WARE -- Calling it a great day for Ware and a great day for the region, business leaders, elected officials and representatives from Holyoke Community College Friday celebrated the opening of a new education and workforce training center in downtown Ware.
The center, called E2E, short for Education to Employment: Quaboag Region Workforce Training and Community College Center, is a collaboration between HCC and the Quaboag Valley Community Development Corporation.
"We are so thrilled to welcome Holyoke Community College to our community," said Sheila Cuddy, executive director of the Quaboag CDC. "As a CDC, we are here with a focus on business development and to better our economic community. What better way to make that happen than to focus on giving the folks who live here the skills they need to become good employees for our local businesses."
More than 60 people attended the grand opening, ribbon-cutting and reception.
HCC president Bill Messner told the crowd he was impressed by the persistence with which representatives from Ware courted the college to establish a presence there.
"We're delighted," Messner said. "We're Holyoke Community College, and we take the community very seriously, and you are part of our community, so we're here. We're here because of the efforts of a lot of people in this room."
Also speaking at the opening were John Carroll, chairman of the Ware Board of Selectmen; state Sen. Anne Gobi; state Rep. Todd Smola, of Warren, a 2005 graduate of HCC; Vincent McCaughey, board chairman of the Quaboag Valley CDC; Paul Scully, president of Country Bank, who donated the space for the E2E center; Tracy Opalinksi, of the Ware Business and Civic Association; and Steve Lowell, president of Monson Savings Bank.
The roughly 3,000 square-foot center located at 79 Main St. includes two classrooms, as well as private study areas and office space. Ten computer workstations will be available for community members interested in enrolling in credit classes at HCC as online students.
The center is already offering noncredit classes in hospitality and culinary arts. The expectation is that course offerings will expand to include manufacturing and health careers. For some courses, classroom education will be supplemented by hands-on training at Pathfinder Vocational High School in Palmer. HCC will also offer academic advising and career counseling services.
"This is a great day for Ware and a great day for our region, which has been lacking in sources of education beyond high school for so long," Cuddy said, "so we could not be more pleased that HCC has shown the willingness to be our partner in this endeavor and to move the project forward."
PHOTOS by CHRIS YURKO: (Left) John Carroll, chairman of the Ware Board of Selectmen, addresses guests at the grand opening of E2E, the new education and employment center in downtown Ware, a joint program of HCC and the Quaboag Valley CDC. (Right) HCC president Bill Messner and Vincent Maughey, board chairman of the Quaboag Valley CDC, flanked by other local dignitaries, cut the ribbon officially opening the E2E education and employment center in downtown Ware.