A local community college is receiving $2 million in ARP funding to support a new program that is expected to ease the strain on Erie’s healthcare system.

Despite the concerns of funding for the program – the president of EC3 said he feels the investment defines the purpose of community colleges.

$2 million of ARP funding is going towards the Erie County Community College to support a partnership between three major medical groups in Erie County.

The partnership will provide funds for scholarships, instruction, equipment and jobs for participants of the program.

“I think the partnership between the county, between the community college and the three healthcare systems is really a kind of cool exercise of what higher education should be,” said Chris Gray, founding president of Erie County Community College.

The program receiving support from Erie County Executive Brenton Davis said the investment will bring a $25 million return within the first five year.

Meanwhile, there is also pushback from county council member Andre Horton saying it is irresponsible to invest in the program. One local leader agreed with this stance.

“For him to vote against it because he said he believed it lacked enough information to give him confidence to vote for it, is something that I would have to support,” said Gary Horton, president of NAACP Erie.

One local community center leader said he’s in favor of the program as education is of top priority.

“I think it’s a good investment from an educational standpoint and not only from an educational standpoint it’s free it’s helping those individuals who may not have the funds to continue their education so I’m all for it,” said Shantel Hilliard, executive director of the Booker T. Washington Center.

Gray said the college stands ready with their partners county government to provide any necessary information.

“We were asked about it we consulted with our solicitor we determined from our perspective that we didn’t need the agreements as requested,” Gray said.

Gray said some of the academic programs will take place now in their current spaces but he is hopeful construction will begin in two years. He said patient care tech and CNA training will begin as soon as January 2024.