MassHire Greater Lowell Workforce Board
December 13, 2018
Middlesex Community College – Nesmith House
229 Andover Street
Lowell, MA 01852
Call to Order: 8:06 a.m.
Presiding Officer: Ray Wrobel, Chair
Attendees: Melida Aizpurua, Kimberly Bodkin, Robert Broughton, Judy Burke, Maureen Fitzpatrick, Maureen Kriff, Michelle LeGrega, Stephanie Lee, Danielle McFadden, Betty McKiernan, John Palmieri, Andrew Shapiro, Cynthia Smith, Ed Starr, Susan Winning, Beverly Woods. Quorum present.
Staff: Peter Farkas, Lauren MacIsaac, Nancy McGovern, Beatriz Sierra, Cathy Byrnes, Bob McIntosh, Shannon Norton, Janet O’Brien
Welcome. Chair Wrobel welcomed everyone and introduced Lauren MacIsaac, the new Youth Services Business Specialist at the MassHire Greater Lowell Workforce Board.
The Chair announced that the Northeast Advanced Manufacturing Consortium (NAMC) was awarded $625K from the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development (EOHED). The Greater Lowell region received $125k for a welding cohort at Shawsheen Regional Technical High School. Training in advanced manufacturing aligns with the Northeast Labor Market Blueprint. Mr. Farkas commented that NAMC covers 4 workforce regions and that 125 unemployed jobseekers will be served by this grant. Mr. Wrobel commented that construction and manufacturing is where we are seeing job openings.
The Chair introduced Judy Burke to welcome the board to Middlesex Community College (MCC) and the Nesmith House. Ms. Burke commented that the home really is a treasure for the region. Ms. Burke discussed the MCC Non-Credit course book and the Workforce Trust Fund info sessions that are coming up. Ms. Burke introduced Maureen Spinney, House Director, to give a brief history of the house. Ms. Spinney explained that house was built in 1843 for John Nesmith’s third wife Harriet Rebecca Nesmith. The home fell into disrepair and was on the verge of being torn down. Former MCC President Carol Cowan pushed to have it restored and everything you see, and all the work was donated. MCC now uses it for meeting and events. The tree is decorated by Spindle City Garden Club.
Review and Approval of June 6, 2018 Minutes. Chair Wrobel requested review of the September 20, 2018 minutes. With no comments or questions and a quorum present, Chair Wrobel requested a motion to accept the September 20, 2018 minutes. Motion made by Stephanie Lee; seconded by Ed Starr. All in favor? Yes. Opposed? No. Vote: Unanimous
Introduction of Guest Speaker: Eileen Donoghue, Lowell City Manger
Chair Wrobel introduced the guest speaker, Lowell City Manager, Eileen Donoghue. The following are highlights from the speaker:
Ms. Donoghue thanked the Board for the invitation and MCC for hosting the meeting. Ms. Donoghue began by stating what privilege it was to serve on the State Workforce Board and as the Chair of Emerging Technologies in the Senate. She commented that she often heard that the Greater Lowell Board was the most well respected at the State level. Ms. Donoghue remarked about the Nesmith House and that when she moved to Lowell it was on the verge of being torn. MCC came to the rescue and ensured the restoration of the property.
Ms. Donoghue presented on how the Board impacts the area: Lowell has a low unemployment rate at 2.2%, which is positive, but makes it difficult for employers who are looking for employees. It is a challenge to fill positions. Employment is at the forefront of the region and there must be good paying jobs to keep people in the community. As elected and appointed officials we need to take advantage of the tools the State has to offer.
Recent Statistics for Lowell:
Economic Development – 2,200 jobs were added in Lowell and provided $342 million in investments. This resulted in $16 million in new revenue for the City. Investments included the expansion of Kronos which added 1,500 jobs. MACOM is keeping their headquarters here and making a $14m investment in a 60K sq. ft addition which will add 50 new jobs for a total of 400. Boston Chowder is doubling their Phoenix Ave location and adding 30 jobs. Markley Group completed a $200m expansion at the Prince Spaghetti space. LCHC is serving 50K patients and embarking on a $25m expansion to create new jobs and services.
On the public side there is a $7.2m MassWorks grant for infrastructure at Hamilton Canal. The signature bridge will be opening shortly. The Lord Overpass will be a $19m project starting in the spring of 2019. It will be one level and realign intersections. Other investments include: $4.3m for Gallagher terminal, $2m Mass Works grant for Thorndike Street, $3 m investment in the garage at Hamilton Canal, $1.1m at South Common, $2m for the Connector reconfiguration and $13.3m in Tiger bridge grants.
Ms. Donoghue stated that they are partnering with MCC on workforce training and recruitment in diversity hiring – with a focus on public safety. MCC is conducting presentations on how to prepare for the civil service exam for the police and fire departments. The $150 fee for the exam can be waived. At the UML IHub there are 40 companies in the incubator space.
There was a conference held recently regarding Opportunity Zones. There are 5 opportunity zones in the city. People are interested in making investments in the city of Lowell.
Manager Donoghue concluded her remarks and Chair Wrobel thanked her for attending.
Career Center Customer Panel
Mr. Farkas introduced the panel members. He stated that they were there to share their experiences with the Career Center. The goal for the panels is for members to get a better picture of how the grants discussed at meetings are implemented and how they are impacted lives.
Jaren Cruz-Partners – Participant in the Achievement at Lowell High School (PALS) Program
Mr. Cruz was enrolled in one of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity (WIOA) in-school youth programs funded by the board. He stated he wasn’t very engaged in high school and didn’t think about college as a possibility. His participation in the program made all the difference and he had support from teachers. His teacher helped with the college application and the financial aid process. The program prepared him to transition to college and he felt he would be there if it wasn’t for the PALS program. He commented that the program has been the difference for a lot of students. He is currently in his first semester at MCC and hopes to pursue a degree in criminal justice.
Kim Dolan – Dislocated Worker Program
Ms. Dolan thanked Bob McIntosh, from the career center, for all his assistance. She stated that she didn’t expect to be laid off from company that she had worked for 20 years. She did receive a severance package when she was laid off. She commented that she thought she would have to go in to Boston to deal with filing an unemployment issuance (UI) claim. Ms. Dolan stated that she felt there was a lot more value and resources in the MassHire Lowell Career Center that helped her prepare for the next steps. Ms. Dolan commented that she received attended the networking group which provided services with LinkedIn, creating business cards, and practicing interviewing.
The networking group that met every 2 weeks provided motivation. She stated that she is currently doing contract work and is looking for full time employment. She stated she feels she’s on the right track and is very grateful for the support services the career center provided.
Matthew Kulas – Dislocated Worker Program
Mr. Kulas commented that he was grateful to the Career Center. He works in artist management representing world class musicians and booked concerts at high profile venues such as Carnegie Hall. Initially, during his job search he was doing the normal things most people do when looking for work – sending out resumes, searching job boards, etc. His mother-in-law suggested he visit the MassHire Lowell Career Center because of he positive experience she had when she was out of work. Mr. Kulas stated that he took every workshop he could. The job club was great for mock interviews and Mr. Kulas commented that it was helpful because it kept you going. He remarked that be being unemployed is tough and you can get easily discouraged.
Amelia Goodridge – Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA) Program
Ms. Goodridge stated that she was living in Pepperell and she was a single parent. Ms. Goodridge was enrolled in nursing in community college. The combination of services she received from DTA, CTI and the Career Center was critical in her success. She will start her LPN classes in the fall. Ms. Goodridge thanked Janet O’Brien and Nancy Gagnon from the Career Center and Meg Gaffney from CTI.
Mr. Farkas thanked the Career Center staff for their work and help with putting together the panel. Mr. Farkas as if there were any questions.
Ms. Fitzpatrick commented to that she participates in the Career Speaker Series. She asked Mr. Cruz when is a good time for high school students to be exposed to potential careers or majors? Mr. Cruz stated that he didn’t have a major in mind because he didn’t think about going to college in general. He became interested in criminal justice through his mentor. Mr. Farkas commented that exposure to career pathways is a mandated element for the in-school and out-of-school youth programs.
Mr. Kulas commented about the importance of the LinkedIn workshops and felt his strong profile assisted him with getting a job.
Mr. Starr thanked the panelists and commented that having them present was a great opportunity for the board to hear what’s taking place at the ground level.
Mr. Farkas stated that with the time being late that he would not go through the Board Report. Members are encouraged to reach out to him with any questions.
Chair Wrobel thanked everyone for attending. The Chair asked if there was any other business. Seeing none, the Chair requested a motion to adjourn. With no other business, motion made by Ed Starr; seconded by Judy Burke. All in favor? Yes. Opposed. No. Unanimous. The meeting adjourned at 8:59 AM.