Gov. Ned Lamont toured WorkspaceCT in Bethel, Conn., on Wednesday, Oct. 6, 2021, as part of Manufacturing Month in Connecticut. The state designated the month 11 years ago as a way to give young people an introduction to manufacturing, educate them about the field’s rewarding career paths, and help the state’s manufacturers recruit skilled workers. Approximately 60 people, which included staff and administrators from CES and EdAdvance and local school and town leaders, attended the event.
Gov. Lamont spoke to the group about the upward trend of manufacturing in the state while standing in front of the building, which is in an industrial area along with several manufacturing companies. “We are coming back. And we are coming back on the strength of our workforce,” Lamont said. “We’ve got to have the best-trained, most productive workforce in the world. That’s how you compete. And that’s what we are doing right here and that’s how all these small but mighty manufacturers, who are all key to our supply chain, are making sure they have the talent they need." WorkspaceCT is an educational facility that features a variety of learning and building spaces where young people and adults can stretch their imaginations, formulate ideas, and create. One of the space’s goals is to collaborate with businesses in an effort to build and promote various industries in Connecticut. "WorkspaceCT is designed and operated to support our community of learners as much as it supports the region's students and teachers,” CES Executive Director Dr. Charles Dumais said. “We are proud to be part of this community of manufacturers and look forward to building relationships that promote workforce development, adult education, and voluntary regional collaboration." In addition to Lamont and Dumais, speakers at Wednesday’s event included P.J. Prunty, President/CEO of the Greater Danbury Chamber of Commerce; Tami O’Conner, CEO of Educational Innovations; James Amis, manager of Workspace Programs at the Northwest Regional Workforce Investment Board; and Bethel First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker. The facility at 16 Trowbridge Drive, Bethel, is owned and operated by two of the state’s six Regional Educational Service Centers (RESCs) that were created by the state legislature more than 50 years ago to support and serve public school districts. Cooperative Educational Services (CES), which is based in Trumbull and serves Fairfield County, and EdAdvance, which is based in Litchfield and serves Litchfield County, jointly purchased the building in spring 2021 as a way to expand educational opportunities in western Connecticut. The purchase marked the first time RESCs have worked together on a project of this magnitude and illustrates the collaborative, forward-thinking spirit that the agencies offer students, educators and communities in their respective districts. WorkspaceCT has 32,000 square feet with a variety of rooms, labs, studios and more. There are rooms for math, coding and virtual-reality gaming; studios and theater space for creative movement, music, screening, and recording; a science research lab; full commercial kitchen; woodworking workshop; conference center; and a co-working space with individual learning stations.