Suffolk OKs buy land for Brentwood Manpower Training Center

A planned workforce training center for Brentwood will boost education and career opportunities for Suffolk County residents and establish a pipeline for lucrative jobs, county officials said.

The Suffolk County Legislature in March approved a plan for the county to purchase $1.46 million state-owned property to build a workforce training center on Crooked Hill Road. The Brentwood center, Suffolk County officials said, will be the first of its kind on Long Island and will significantly expand opportunities for residents, especially those ages 14 to 24.

Suffolk Department of Labor Commissioner Rosalie Drago said the project’s vision includes creating a community-centred space that expands access to ‘economically self-sufficient work’ and the advancement of education . Paid practical work, training and apprenticeships in different trades could be offered, she said. The county has already partnered with several organizations for the center, including offshore wind farm company Orsted.

The project, in its early planning stages, could include career labs and expand the county’s current programs for job seekers, Drago said.

County officials said the center, which will be across from the Brentwood Union Free School District’s freshman center, will strengthen the local economy and career pipeline. Superintendent Richard Loeschner said he hopes it will provide “career preparation opportunities for our students.”

The project is made possible by a $15 million state grant, which was pledged in 2018 in an effort to address gang violence in the hamlet. It is unclear when the center, initially envisioned as a community resource center, will open. Suffolk County Deputy Manager Jon Kaiman said he expects to have a clearer timeline later this year. Once the county acquires the six-acre property, the National Offshore Wind Training Center will move to the hub, Drago said. Relocation will be one of the first partners of the project.

“One of the big needs in this area is alternative energy specifically related to wind, offshore wind,” Kaiman said, adding that the redesigned project meets the county’s long-term needs.

Drago’s department is already working with about 1,200 young people, including 200 from Brentwood, for workforce training. She said the hub would be an extension of those efforts. About 1,000 Brentwood students are employed while studying, she said, and at least one adult per household in Brentwood is looking for work.

“We have amazing training facilities and educational institutions, but the key is really making sure there’s awareness and a pipeline in those institutions to find jobs,” Drago said.

Legis. Samuel Gonzalez (D-Brentwood) praised the initiative, calling it “the best idea, the best location, for this project, for the community, for our kids.” Brentwood, which is nearly 72% Hispanic or Latino, is stigmatized because of MS-13’s violence, Gonzalez said. He predicts the hub will change the public perception of Brentwood residents.

“It’s become my passion to make sure our kids are prepared,” he said. “I think it will break the stigma of what people think of Brentwood.”

Brentwood Workforce Center

Former Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo pledged $15 million to Suffolk County for a new community center in Brentwood. Initial plans included means-tested offerings, but county officials said they realized the county needed additional workforce training and an expansion of programs already offered by the count.

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