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Manufacturing Month: Deputy Secretary Don Graves Stresses Administration’s Commitment to Equitable Workforce Training in Ohio: Announces $3.6 Million Grant for Workforce Development Facility in Cleveland

Emphasizes Importance of Broadband & Racial Equity to Workforce Development  

In honor of Manufacturing Month, U.S. Deputy Secretary of Commerce Don Graves traveled to Cincinnati and Cleveland, Ohio from October 6-8, where he addressed the Administration’s commitment to closing the labor gap and putting Americans back to work in the wake of the pandemic.  

While there, Deputy Secretary Graves announced a $3.6 million Economic Development Administration (EDA) grant to establish an adult technical training and workforce development facility in Cleveland. This grant reflects the Biden Administration’s commitment to building a skilled workforce that supports our nation’s manufacturing sector.  

“President’s Build Back Better agenda is all about investing in our economy and our workforce,” said Deputy Secretary Graves. “This EDA investment to the Workroom Program Alliance and the Cleveland Municipal School District will establish a manufacturing workforce training center that will play a critical role in creating job opportunities and boosting the regional economy.” 

Deputy Secretary Graves announces Economic Development Administration (EDA) grant to establish an adult technical training and workforce development facility in Cleveland.

Deputy Secretary Graves’ first stop was in Cincinnati, where he toured Nehemiah Manufacturing Company, and touted EDA’s Good Jobs Challenge, which supports individuals with past criminal records, including justice-impacted and reentry participants. The Good Jobs Challenge is part of $3 billion in funding to EDA provided by the American Rescue Act to help Americans get back to work by building and strengthening systems and partnerships that bring together employers who have hiring needs with other key entities to train workers with in-demand skills that lead to good-paying jobs. 

“EDA’s number one investment priority is equity, and this program is aimed at supporting those who have been hardest hit by the pandemic – including women and people of color,” said Graves. “As Secretary Raimondo says, if people take the risk of getting trained in a new career, they deserve assurances that it’ll lead to a good job.”  

While in Cincinnati, Deputy Secretary Graves also participated in a roundtable discussion with community and industry leaders at Grit Ohio and emphasized the importance of broadband to workforce development and the need for infrastructure funding to connect every American—particularly in rural areas—to reliable high-speed Internet.  

“The digital divide is a challenge all around the country, and rural Ohio is no exception,” said Graves.” The bipartisan infrastructure bill will help us bring reliable, high-speed broadband to all Americans. The President has made clear that we will use infrastructure funds to connect every American to reliable high-speed Internet, just as the Federal Government made a historic effort to provide electricity to every American nearly 100 years ago.”  

Later that day, Deputy Secretary toured the Workforce Innovation Center and addressed the Good Jobs Challenge and the importance of equality in workforce training and development. The Workforce Innovation Center is a consulting practice that partners with business leaders to advance the adoption of inclusive practices in their workplace that empowers employees, the community, and their businesses to thrive.  

Economic Development Administration (EDA) graphic on the Good Jobs Challenge

Deputy Secretary Graves also visited the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center (NURFC) to hear about their work on racial equity in the labor force. The NURFC is in downtown Cincinnati and is just a few steps from the banks of the Ohio River, the great natural barrier that separated the slave states of the South from the free states of the North. The Freedom Center is developing programs and exhibits aimed at economic empowerment and inclusion for those who have been historically underrepresented in our capitalistic system; especially people of color and women. 
“The work of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center continues to create an inclusive economy for all,” said Graves. “They play a vital role in not only reminding us of our country’s complex history but enabling economic opportunities for underrepresented businesses by disrupting biases and systemic inequities.”  

Deputy Secretary Graves a the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati, Ohio

On Thursday, Deputy Secretary Graves made his way to Cleveland, and in addition to announcing the EDA workforce development grant, he toured the Tri-C facilities at Cuyahoga Community College in Cleveland and participated in a roundtable discussion with local business leaders where he addressed the President’s Build Back Better agenda and the importance of investing in America’s workforce. During his remarks, he reaffirmed the Commerce Department’s commitment to equitable workforce training. 

“President’s Build Back Better agenda is all about—investing in our economy and our workforce,” said Graves.” “From millions of working mothers balancing multiple jobs, to young adults looking for work, to laid-off factory workers wondering what comes next − these funds from the American Rescue Act will help provide job training and good-paying jobs for you and your communities.” 

Cuyahoga supports workforce development, manufacturing education, and infrastructure workforce training through its programs at the Transportation Innovation Center and the Manufacturing Technology Center for Excellence. Tri-C exemplifies the components of the President’s agenda that focus on increased funding for education, better access to higher education, and reinvigorating the economy through education, jobs, and investing in infrastructure. During President Biden’s visit to Tri-C in May, he emphasized the importance of educational access as a means of helping cities like Cleveland — and the nation as a whole — continue recovering from the economic impact of the pandemic. 

“Commerce will play a critical role in helping the President and our country build back better,” he said. Our nation is at an inflection point, which requires bold action. When we do this, we can compete on the global stage and invigorate America’s competitiveness.” 

To conclude the day, Deputy Secretary Graves spoke at the Northeast Ohio Business Development Organization’s NEO Rising event where he addressed the role of the Commerce Department in the President’s Build Back Better agenda and the President’s economic development policies. These policies will help create opportunities and a more vibrant economy in the Northeast Ohio Region and across the nation.  

“Commerce will play a critical role in helping the President and our country build back better,” he said. “Our nation is at an inflection point, which requires bold action. When we do this, we can compete on the global stage and reinvigorate America’s competitiveness.”  

Deputy Secretary Graves speaks at the Northeast Ohio Business Development Organization’s NEO Rising event 

October is designated as manufacturing month. Manufacturing is an important sector of the U.S. economy and exports of manufactured goods strengthen the manufacturing base and create better good-paying jobs.