NYATEP Member Spotlight: CenterState CEO - An Interview with Aimee Durfee

Posted on July 11, 2022

Image
1ei3pd8ktkssmosa5zug 6cff6a2e C29a 4bd1 9265 8cc78d9d0139
Increasing the number of BIPOC and Women in the Construction Trades through Pathways to Apprenticeship

CenterState CEO is embarking on some ambitious workforce development goals by incubating Syracuse Build, a mayoral initiative to increase the number of women and Black, Indigenous, and people of color working in Construction.  Pathways to Apprenticeship is a core program of Syracuse Build; individuals who complete this pre-apprenticeship program are prepared to enter a union apprenticeship and begin their career in Construction. Aimee Durfee, Director of Workforce Innovation, is working with partners to develop this project and other innovations coming out of Central NY and Syracuse.

Aimee moved to New York from The Bay Area in California looking for more affordable housing and less congestion with her spouse in early 2020. Her years of anti-poverty work after graduating from law school, let her combine her experience in funding and policy with the skills she gained in employment law. .. Aimee describes the work she does with her team as “really functioning as a Workforce intermediary inside of a business organization, an economic development organization that also has the focus on economic inclusion.”

Syracuse Build is transforming lives by providing access to permanent, well-paying construction jobs for individuals in Syracuse. As Aimee describes it, “ The I-81 project is the largest construction project the NY Dept of Transportation has undertaken in Central New York, and it will run through the City of Syracuse.” She continues, “One of the foundational principles of our work is that we know there is untapped talent in the community. So we ask ourselves what are we doing around that principle? We’re looking for people. We ask employers, we ask unions, what are the real core skills you’re looking for? When we ask about Coders, employers say Problem-solving, alright, that's a basic technical skill. We can screen for that. Then the construction unions told us we need people who know something about construction and want to do this work… we’ll teach them the technical skills.”

Aimee continues to point out that although workforce development seems straightforward, it has other nuances, like a participant completing training, but not having stable transportation to make it to job sites. Having stable transportation to a job that will become a career, helps people take steps toward economic mobility. Aimee says it was essential to include wraparound services in this undertaking and make a clear path for those with transportation constraints to obtain a driver's license as a mechanism to success in the long run.

Aimee noted that Syracuse Build and Pathways to Apprenticeship owes much of its success to its leaders, Ebony Farrow (Pathways Program Manager) and Chris Montgomery (Syracuse Build Director) as well as the employers, unions,  and participants who make what could be a complicated process run smoothly. She noted it was her experience within broken systems and seeing people suffer for preventable reasons like not having enough to eat, that is what helps her to work collaboratively in finding solutions and innovations in her work now. In addition to Syracuse Build, CenterState CEO works in collaboration with the Mayor’s Syracuse Surge initiative to help more women and BIPOC secure and retain jobs in Tech, Advanced Manufacturing, and Digital Customer Service in Central New York.

Find out more from nyatep.org, here.

Other
Media Coverage

Image
City of Syracuse
Media Coverage | 09/08/2023

Two Central New York Consortiums Are Finalists For Defense Manufacturing Program

The Upstate Defense Consortium, in partnership with Empire State Development, CenterState CEO, the Griffiss Institute, Syracuse Universit

Image
Rob Emergent 2023
Media Coverage | 08/28/2023

Emergent's Driving Leadership Podcast with Rob Simpson

CenterState CEO President Rob Simpson chats with Emergent Partner Bill Berthel about exciting new opportunities for our region.

Image
NY Smart I-Corridor Graphic
Media Coverage | 08/17/2023

Syracuse Joins Rochester and Buffalo in Federal Tech Hub Application

The three metro areas of Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse submitted a joint application to become a federally-recognized Tech Hub this wee

Image
Alan Rottenberg, Dave Mankiewicz, and Donna Gillespie gather to celebrate Central New York's Career Apprenticeship Initiative.
Media Coverage | 08/10/2023

Career Apprenticeship Initiative Aims To Retain CNY's College-Educated Talent

CenterState CEO; Alan Rottenberg, founder of the Canadian Career Apprenticeship Initiative; the Kingston Economic Development Corporation

Image
CenterState CEO President Rob Simpson being interviewed at The Tech Garden Expansion Kickoff.
Media Coverage | 08/10/2023

The Tech Garden Expansion Project Officially Gets Underway

CenterState CEO, local leaders and supporters gathered to announced the onset of construction for the transformational expansion of its b

Image
Syracuse Surge Accelerator finalists announced
Media Coverage | 08/08/2023

Syracuse Surge Accelerator Announces Five Finalists

CenterState CEO announced the five companies selected to participate in the first year of the new and innovative Syracuse Surge A

Image
Media Coverage | 07/27/2023

Syracuse Alumni Turn College Town into Hometown

Graduates of Syracuse University speak to the success they’ve found in Central New York.

Image
Kara Interview GENIUS NY 2023
Media Coverage | 07/13/2023

Kara Jones Talks GENIUS NY with NewsChannel 9's Jeff Kulikowsky

Learn all about the program and what to expect with this year's Cohort.

Image
Surge Accelerator 2023 Semifinalists
Media Coverage | 07/13/2023

Syracuse Surge Accelerator Announces 10 Semi-finalists for First Cohort

The Syracuse Surge Accelerator is a one-year in-person accelerator to provide direct resources and support for Black-Indigenous-Persons of Color (BIPOC) entrepreneurs.