photo by JD Hancock

 “I want every American looking for work to have the same opportunity…have one program, one website, and one place to go for all the information and help that they need. It is time to turn our unemployment system into a reemployment system that puts people to work.” — Barack Obama

 America’s made considerable progress toward improving its complex workforce development program. Last year the new federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) passed both houses of Congress by substantial margins in a bipartisan vote after two years of negotiations. The president promptly signed the bill into law. It will go into effect this July 1. The specific rules which will govern it are yet to be published.

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photo by Sonny Abesamis

At its February meeting Ulster County’s Economic Development Alliance (UCEDA), the successor agency to the Ulster County Development Corporation, accepted a proposal from New Paltz-based consultant Peter Fairweather to devise a strategic approach to what Fairweather’s preliminary draft called “a much finer-grained understanding of the county’s true sources of economic competitiveness.” Central to his approach, Fairweather said, was “stakeholder outreach,” i.e. talking with business people.

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makerbot-anni144

Mark Palmer is a 2001 Kingston High School graduate who for the past nine months has been director of industrial design for MakerBot, the trendy and wildly successful six-year-old startup 3D-printer-maker bought a year and a half ago by Stratasys, another maker. Brooklyn-based MakerBot, which employs 600 people, is widely touted to be the poster child for the rapidly growing field of mainstream 3D printing. Mark Palmer well qualifies as one of the firm’s rising stars.

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acropolis

As a snowy late winter continues to settle over the Hudson Valley, distant destinations seem more than a world away. For a region experiencing a deep freeze at the slowest time of year for commercial activity, the tribulations of the European economy seem more distant than the almost 5000 miles separating the Hudson Valley (population three million) and Greece (population eleven million). The only Athens most of us think about is the Greene County town (population four thousand) of that name.

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skyline-144

As the migration of New York City people to the Hudson Valley has continued — some would say intensified — a lot of traffic is going the other way, too, and not just young people exploring big-city life. The mid-Hudson area has been turning into a region of more and longer commutes. More residents than ever before have been commuting longer distances, many into New York City itself.

Two or three decades ago the dominant pattern was different. Back then, an increasing number of workers in Hudson Valley communities, unable to find good jobs in their home towns, commuted for work to nearby smaller cities. An increased proportion is now commuting more outside their home counties altogether, in many cases going further than the nearest adjacent counties.

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KingstonHS3d_SM

A “robohand” functional prosthetic for a boy with a missing hand. A plastic model of a recording studio designed by an architect. Models of clamps used to lock down helicopter blades for a Shokan manufacturer.

These were among the items printed out on 3D printers at SUNY New Paltz, where the digital fabrication lab at the Hudson Valley Advanced Manufacturing Center is bringing together businesses and engineering students to localize the rapidly growing field of 3D printing.

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fragile-hi

Given the robust number of New York City voices one hears on the streets of Ulster County even on winter weekends and the growing number of Hudson Valley residents who travel to make their living in the big city and its inner suburbs during the week, it was timely that Gotham’s leading civic planning organization held a meeting on the SUNY New Paltz campus last Wednesday morning in the throes of the preparation of a broad new 31-county regional plan. More than 50 people found themselves seated around a large U-shaped table in the Student Union Building asked to share their views of how the Hudson Valley was going to change in the next generation or so.

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