By LEVI PASCHER
For The Recorder
JOHNSTOWN -- Fulton-Montgomery Community College and the Fulton County Industrial Development Agency are working together to bring a new heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration program to the Tryon Technology Park and Incubator Center in 2015.
College President Dustin Swanger said the college received an $80,000 SUNY grant to develop the program, and contacted the Fulton County IDA about using one of the facilities on the campus to house the new career opportunity.
Swanger said the program is still being developed but would most likely start in the fall of 2015 as a certificate program before being developed into a two-year degree program. He said he expects it would have about 20 students during the first year.
"It's likely to be people who are already working," Swanger said.
He said this skilled trade is not only needed by local businesses, but also those across the state.
"Employers from throughout the area have expressed a real concern with finding HVAC people, and the Department of Labor statistics show it is one of the high-needs areas across the state," Swanger said. "We have to make sure we offer programs that put people to work."
Swanger said he's been working with other colleges about the HVAC and refrigeration curriculum, including the provost and executive vice president of academic affairs at Genesee Community College, Kathleen Schiefen, who operates a similar HVAC program.
IDA Executive Director James Mraz said Swanger contacted him about using the space at Tryon in one of the larger structures that also includes a gymnasium and auditorium. The Fulton County IDA owns the 515-acre property which previously served as a state youth detention center campus on Route 107.
Mraz said the IDA has a bigger vision for the existing structure and plans to use it as a regional business training facility. However, he said the F-MCC program would rent two spaces located there.
"Our vision has been to repurpose that building and use it for a regional business training center," Mraz said. "I brought Dusty over and we think there is an opportunity to help the college and the business community by providing skilled laborers."
He said to make that plan come to fruition the IDA in June applied for a grant through the Northern Borders Regional Commission seeking $120,000. He said that funding would cover building renovations and other associated startup costs.