WILBERFORCE — Central State University received a $3,582,160 grant from the United States Department of Commerce to establish a Workforce Training and Business Development Center that will benefit underserved communities in the Miami Valley Region.

The project, led by Central State University Director of the 1890 Land-Grant Programs Associate Provost for Research Dr. Morakinyo Kuti, provides employment-related training, entrepreneurship skills development, and education to the underserved communities in the Miami Valley Region. The center is in Dayton, the heart of the highest concentration of minority population, population in poverty, and population with the least access to opportunity in the entire region, according to the university.

The project targets historically underserved and underemployed populations to create career pathways for participants by providing training in high-demand skills in growing industries. The project focuses on two emerging industries in the Miami Valley — advanced materials and advanced manufacturing — and information technology and advanced data management.

The collaborative effort allows CSU to use its land-grant resources and funding from the economic development administration to improve the economy and business capability of under resourced citizens of the Miami Valley Region, particularly the city of Dayton.

“As an 1890 land-grant institution, Central State University has an obligation to better the lives of the communities around us by sharing knowledge and skills that improve citizens’ daily lives,” Kuti said. “The Workforce Training and Business Development Center is a bold initiative demonstrating CSU’s commitment to this work. The university is grateful to the Economic Development Administration of the United States Department of Commerce for investing in CSU so we can embark on this important endeavor. The university also appreciates the support of our partners including the Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission and the Dayton Development Coalition.”

The center promotes small business sustainability, employment opportunities, and educational attainment. Increasing individuals’ skills in the targeted, growing industries will make them resilient to future economic downturns. Training includes short-term workshops for certification and long-term instruction resulting in undergraduate degrees.

“I strongly believe the CSU Workforce Training and Business Development Center will create an opportunity to re-energize the community by providing the training needed to help up-skill individuals impacted by COVID and other economic factors to prepare them for sustainable job opportunities in emerging industries such as advanced manufacturing, technology, and small business entrepreneurship,” said CSU Workforce Training and Business Development Center Project Director Dr. Terry Muff. “The center will offer 14 short-term workshops that will use both classroom and hands-on practices to create an active learning environment for career pathway development.”

According to Central State University President Dr. Jack Thomas, research has shown that educational attainment is the single most reliable predictor of an individual’s socio-economic status. The more education a person receives, the better off they are in all aspects of life including income, health, and wealth. Education is essential to closing the disparities in income between the underrepresented minorities and the majority population.

“We commend the United States Department of Commerce for recognizing this longstanding issue and for declaring equity as a core guiding principle in all the department’s initiatives,” Thomas said. “Central State University Workforce Training and Business Development Center provides employment-related training and educational programs to increase the ability of underrepresented individuals to gain meaningful employment.”