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LITTLE VALLEY – Plans to develop an advanced manufacturing facility at the Jamestown Community College Olean Campus have taken a big step forward with the Cattaraugus County Legislature Finance Committee’s recommendation to commit to a quarter of the cost.

The $2 million project would bring skilled-trades training to the area, helping to fill jobs in the local industrial community. The state would foot the bill for $1 million of the cost through the State University of New York system, with $500,000 coming from Cattaraugus County and $500,000 from the college.

Pivotal to the project is the purchase of the Knights of Columbus building at 129 Hamilton St., adjacent to the campus. Negotiations on a final price for the building have yet to be finalized, according to officials.

The building would be converted into an advanced manufacturing institute, teaching such classes as machining and fundamentals of electricity, said Cory Duckworth, president of JCC.

John Garfoot, JCC vice president and dean for administration, pointed to studies showing that, despite the economic downturn, nationally there is a lack of skilled labor for manufacturing.

“We have had conversations with officials from Dresser Rand,” former JCC President Gregory DeCinque added. “We have been told that, of the 600 people that work on the shop floor, 30 percent of them will be retiring in the next few years.”

That is the trend across the manufacturing base. Many of the companies in the Southern Tier are having a difficult time filling these jobs, and they are not minimum-wage positions, Duckworth said. Many start at $20 an hour.

A one-year program would equip graduates with the skills they need to move directly into jobs with area companies, therefore keeping people in the region, JCC Vice President John Sayegh said. The program would be designed to be certificate level, with the possibility of earning an associate degrees in manufacturing.

The Cattaraugus County Legislature will consider signing onto the Finance Committee recommendation when it meets Wednesday. Final approval for the project would be through SUNY.