The Cornell Cooperative Extension building on Grant Avenue in Auburn has nearly 20,000 square feet of space, and the fact that the agency doesn't need nearly that much room anymore has opened up a unique opportunity for a wide-ranging community collaboration we believe has great potential.
A plan is in the works in which the cooperative extension would give the building to Cayuga Community College in exchange for being allowed to continue using 3,000-square-feet of office space. The college would then oversee $5 million to $6 million in renovations and create a workforce development center accommodating several different groups.
The long-term vision is to have CCC's Continuing Education and Workforce Development, Cayuga County Employment and Training, state Department of Labor, Cayuga-Seneca Community Action Agency, Regional Adult Education Network, and other education and vocational-focused agencies under one roof, allowing for potential savings with staffing, resources and marketing.
The big question is whether or not CCC can secure all of the funding for the project. A big part of the pie would come from the state, but that will require the State University of New York to approve of CCC's plan and also be successful in getting enough infrastructure funding included in the next state budget.
The cooperative extension building is a community asset, and it's readily suited for offices and conference rooms a venture such as this one requires. And getting the area's workforce development agencies under one roof makes good sense because it has the potential to benefit them all — and the people of the community.
We urge the Cayuga County Legislature to give its full support to the project and for SUNY to give careful consideration to the benefits this project could have for Auburn and Cayuga County.
The Citizen editorial board includes publisher Rob Forcey, executive editor Jeremy Boyer and managing editor Mike Dowd.