CTPOST, Ken Dixon, July 10, 2020
FAIRFIELD — A $2 million federal workforce development grant will mean manufacturing apprenticeships for young people aged 16 to 24, officials including Gov. Ned Lamont, Lt. Gov Susan Bysiewicz and U.S. Rep. Jim Himes announced on Friday.
During a crowded-but-masked news conference on the fragrant manufacturing floor of the 75-year-old Bigelow Tea company, Joe Carbone, president and CEO of the Bridgeport-based WorkPlace, a training and job-placement organization, said that the money should help prepare the next generation of state workers, particular from urban centers such as neighboring Bridgeport.
“This is a lot more than just $2 million,” said Himes, who helped secure the grant from the federal Department of Labor. “If you live in Southwestern Connecticut or represent, as I do in the House of Representatives, you wake up as I do every single morning, aware of the fact that there are communities of great prosperity and great opportunity side-by-side with communities that don’t have that prosperity and that opportunity. And this is the answer. It’s not the only answer, but it’s one of the answers.”
Lamont recalled that when he taught part-time at Bridgeport’s Harding High School more than 20 years ago, Cindi Bigelow, now the president and CEO of the family-owned company, was a guest speaker who was able to motivate students.
Lamont praised the WorkPlace for its ability to train and place responsible employees. “That’s what we’ve got to do as we work our way into a – I hope – post-COVID economy,” Lamont said.