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Governor McKee, Elected Officials Cut Ribbon on Woonsocket Education Center, Adding Workforce Training and Education Options for Northern Rhode Island

RHODE ISLAND, October 4 - WOONSOCKET, RI – Governor Dan McKee today praised private businesses, state agencies, donors and the General Assembly for their collaboration and contributions that led to the creation of the new Woonsocket Education Center before snipping the giant ribbon signaling the official opening.

"Our state has a responsibility to make sure that Rhode Islanders have the ability to qualify for the good jobs that our businesses are creating," said Governor Dan McKee. "As a former small business owner, I appreciate the economic impact of and essential need for a talented workforce enriched by excellent training and education. Investing in Rhode Islanders earns dividends for small businesses, large businesses and spurs economic development. Congratulations to everyone involved in making today a reality."

"Our office is responsible for the creation of new pathways to credentials, degrees and certifications for citizens who need to reach their career goals," said R.I. Postsecondary Commissioner Shannon Gilkey. "Education leads to quality jobs, high job satisfaction, and lower unemployment. The collective impact of the collaboration between higher education institutions and the state is the tremendous improvement in access to workforce training and education, which in turn lead to a highly skilled workforce and a more robust economy."

"At CVS Health, we're committed to enhancing workforce development opportunities in every community we have a presence. Every Workforce Innovation Talent Center we open is unique, but each one reflects the needs of its community," said CVS Health Workforce Initiatives Executive Director, Ernest Dupont. "Our center provides a holistic approach to workforce development that will activate our dynamic partners here in Woonsocket and throughout our business enterprise to break down barriers to employment. We are proud to deliver this community resource to our hometown and provide participants the tools they need to be successful in the workplace – and more importantly, in life."

Woonsocket Education Center at 115 Main Street delivers high-quality educational classes to meet projected workforce growth in the region. Many of the trainings are available for free and most will provide employment placement assistance. Education navigators from the Office of the Postsecondary Commissioner's RI Reconnect program will hold office hours at the center and provide career guidance. The R.I. Department of Labor and Training, R.I. Office of Veterans Services, and R.I. National Guard are leasing space and extending their employment services deep into the greater Woonsocket area. Community College of Rhode Island, Rhode Island College, and New England Institute of Technology are already providing workforce training, associate's-level, and master's-level courses at the Woonsocket center. The facility features instructional classrooms, computer lab space, and a CVS Health Workforce Innovation Talent Center which features a CVS Pharmacy simulated retail environment for hands-on career skills training in high-demand fields.

The center is available for businesses who wish to rent it for their own training sessions, and they may opt to engage with the higher education institutions to develop a customized course.

The Papitto Foundation is the largest private donor of the Woonsocket Education Center, with funds dedicated to advancing job training and education among Black, Indigenous, Persons of Color in northern Rhode Island. Other donors include AAA Northeast, Amica Companies Foundation, City of Woonsocket, CVS Health, Donna Dubinsky, In Memory of Max and Rose Goldfine, Fidelity Investments, FM Global Foundation, The Murray Charitable Foundation, and The Warren Alpert Foundation.

Founded in 2022, Woonsocket Education Center is a public-private collaboration designed to bring together higher education, business, industry, and community partners to provide high-quality educational programs to meet projected workforce growth in the region. It is managed by the Rhode Island Office of the Postsecondary Commissioner. More information can be found at woonsocketedcenter.org.

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