At a press conference today, William V. Cuddy, Jr., chairman of The Blueprint for Westchester, announced that Westchester County’s fourteen colleges and universities have signed a historic Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to participate in the Blueprint initiative to revitalize Westchester’s economy. Key components of the MOU include:
- The colleges and universities will serve as a feeder network for entrepreneurs as well as research for new businesses through the Blueprint Accelerator Network, and work-based learning and mentoring opportunities for students in established and emerging businesses.
- The colleges and universities will create Study Westchester, an online searchable database of all academic programs offered in the county;
- For the first time in their history, the colleges and universities will collectively produce a WCA Higher Education Committee career fair next fall, a highly unusual step in what traditionally has been a competitive undertaking. The fair is designed to make it easier and more cost-effective for businesses to find employees and students to find jobs, as it will be held in one place and at one time. The career fair will be held on October 26, 2012, at the Westchester Marriott Hotel.
“Economic revitalization will be enhanced and stimulated by the benefits the higher education community can bring to the table,” said Dr. Kimberly R. Cline, president of Mercy College and chair of the WCA’s Higher Education Committee. “To remain competitive, we will work together to increase productivity and develop innovative instructional programs needed to meet the rapidly changing environment.”
Higher Education Is an Economic Engine
Dr. Cline also announced new figures indicating that higher education is now a $1.2 billion economic engine in Westchester (goods and services, spending), employing 10,700 people and educating 68,600 students. “The colleges and universities are anchor tenants in Westchester’s villages, towns, and cities,” she pointed out.
The role of higher education is expected to increase as technology and globalization continue to impact the region and country, and as the American workforce needs to adapt to changes in the workplace. Westchester’s higher education institutions have a trove of resources to fast track the growth of promising businesses. A pipeline of talented interns and potential employees, as well as research and technology transfer opportunities, are valuable assets for business.
Besides being an economic engine, generating $1.2 billion in the Westchester economy, the higher education community will provide the human resources and entrepreneurial systems within their institutions to advance economic development.
“They grow, train, and attract the finest talent,” said Cuddy, who pointed out that the collaboration not only benefits economic development in Westchester, it benefits the higher education community as well. “We believe that education itself blossoms when it is immersed in an environment of innovation, growth, and productivity.”
The colleges and universities that signed the MOU are: Berkeley College, College of New Rochelle, College of Westchester, Fordham University (Westchester), Iona College, Manhattanville College, Mercy College, Monroe College, Pace University, Purchase College-State University of New York, Sarah Lawrence College, St. Thomas Aquinas College, SUNY Empire State College, and Westchester Community College. Attending the press conference were representatives of each institution.