Ithaca Area Economic Development Receives Grant Funding for Direct to Work Manufacturing Partnership

ITHACA, N.Y., December 21, 2022 – Ithaca Area Economic Development (IAED) announced it was awarded $31,500 in grant funding to advance its Direct to Work (DTW) manufacturing partnership program. IAED received support from the Community Foundation of Tompkins County to provide stipends to participants that successfully complete the program and from the Tompkins County Community Recovery Fund to develop a virtual reality technical skills lab with “hands-on” training and digital coaching.

The DTW program is an inclusive career pathway initiative that helps the un- and underemployed access training programs, resources, and opportunities to prepare them for entry-level positions with Tompkins County manufacturers. It is a collaboration with community partners aimed at mitigating personal and traditional barriers to entry while preparing individuals for success in the workplace and industry.

IAED President Heather McDaniel said, “Direct to Work helps community members gain exposure to industries in Ithaca and Tompkins County that offer living wage jobs and career advancement opportunities. We’re grateful for the support for this important program.”

IAED and its partner, Alliance for Manufacturing Technology, rolled out the DTW program in July 2022. The pilot was a 6-week self-paced training with 25 modules through a certified online curriculum. Participants that completed the coursework and passed the Certified Manufacturing Associate (CMfgA) test received a $500 stipend and were guaranteed interviews with participating manufacturers. Since the conclusion of the pilot, all program graduates have interviewed with local manufacturers; most were placed and are still employed.

Therm Human Resource Manager Joanne Finlay added, “Therm supports IAED’s Direct to Work program and has already hired graduates coming out of the pilot. We’re excited to continue our participation in the future.”

IAED continues to work on program development and expects to launch another DTW cohort in February 2023.

About Ithaca Area Economic Development
Ithaca Area Economic Development is a private non-profit economic development organization serving Ithaca and Tompkins County. It is New York State’s first and only Accredited Economic Development Organization, one of only 71 across North America. Since 1964, Ithaca Area Economic Development has worked to grow, retain, and attract companies that provide high-quality employment opportunities and strives to create a supportive environment for businesses and entrepreneurs. For more information, visit

About Community Foundation of Tompkins County
The Community Foundation of Tompkins County, established in 2000, has a mission to bring people and resources together to build a more equitable Tompkins County by inspiring diverse philanthropy, catalyzing collaborations and championing inclusion and justice. Want to get involved? Learn more at

About Tompkins County Community Recovery Funds
Tompkins County received $6.53 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). The County will grant funds to a variety of eligible organizations, government entities, and small businesses to help them recover from the impacts of COVID-19 and enhance our community’s resilience into the future. The County Legislature will fund projects that address the immediate and continuing impacts of COVID-19; build long term capacity, sustainability, and resilience of our local communities, non-profits, and businesses; and address critical, unmet community needs. Awarded projects can be found on the website.

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