The passage of $2 million in funding for Erie County Community College’s (EC3) allied nursing and health care labs is being hailed as a win for all of the area.
It’s a partnership between the three major medical groups in Erie County. That aims to strengthen a workforce that’s in dire need of staff.
“When I learned each of these health systems was looking at developing their own workforce pipeline, I brought three competitors and three CEOs together right here in this office and said, ‘What if the county can partner?'” said Erie County Executive Brenton Davis.
UPMC, Allegheny Health Network and LECOM will be working with EC3 to provide instruction, funds for scholarships, equipment and eventually jobs for students who complete the program.
Davis claimed this will be a $25 million return on investment within the first five years of this program. However, some council members see issues with accountability for funding.
Councilmember Andre Horton said it’s irresponsible for the county to invest in this program. Without written reassurance, the county can’t be on the hook for any excess spending.
“It’s been outlined in the white paper, it’s been outlined through the emails about the hospital’s involvement. We have all of that, but what we don’t have is a formal agreement for our $2 million,” said Horton.
Other council members argue politics is getting in the way of moving the county forward.
“I don’t agree with everything the county executive brings down here. I probably don’t agree with 75% of it. But I’m looking at this. If we can’t join the three hospitals and the community college to do this, maybe we don’t want business to come to Erie County,” said Terry Scutella, Erie County councilman.
“That gives the opportunity for a housekeeper, for example, that works over in one of these hospital systems to become an LPN or become a radiological technician to fill these high demand critical jobs that these hospitals desperately need and to help these folks make a better wage and build a better life for them and their families,” Davis added.
A representative from the community college explained that once the program is up and running, 155 graduates of this program are projected to enter the local workforce.