Microsoft puts Syracuse tech hub on hold but awards $500,000 grant to city residents

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Syracuse, NY – Microsoft has put the brakes on plans to build a tech hub in Syracuse, but is providing a $500,000 grant to help give city residents the skills to build careers in the new economy digitally driven.

Microsoft Philanthropies’ Skills for Jobs and Livelihoods grant will be used to teach residents digital skills such as better navigation of online services and access to careers in software-related fields. Grant-funded programs will focus on residents of low-income neighborhoods and communities of color.

“By expanding access to digital skills, supporting small businesses, and accelerating the startup ecosystem, we’re expanding opportunities,” Naria Santa Lucia, Microsoft’s general manager for digital inclusion and engagement, said Friday. of the American community, in a press release. “We are excited to work with the Syracuse community to pilot the digital literacy and workforce training programs needed for in-demand jobs.”

The software giant announced a “digital alliance” with the city in 2019, saying it would establish a “Smart Cities Technology” hub as part of Mayor Ben Walsh’s Syracuse Surge plan to bolster the regional economy with jobs. high technology.

Microsoft said it hadn’t ruled out building a physical hub in Syracuse at some point, but decided in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic that it could have the best impact by funding programs that give residents the digital skills they need for career success.

“Microsoft is proud to partner with the city and the community,” the company said in a statement released by a spokesperson on Wednesday.

“The pandemic has changed the nature of work for all of us, and we realize we can better help the community by supporting and training the workforce of the future and investing in Syracuse’s talent pool. In addition to supporting Syracuse-based staff, this grant will expand access to digital skills, support small businesses, and accelerate the local startup ecosystem.

The $500,000 grant is just the first of such efforts at Syracuse, according to the company.

In addition to teaching residents such things as writing software, the grant will support Syracuse Surge Accelerator from CenterState CEO to The technical garden downtown,” said Dominic Robinson, vice president of economic inclusion at the economic development and business leadership organization.

The accelerator will provide workspace and support services to help entrepreneurs of color start and grow technology businesses. It is to be launched in the fall. Black and Latino entrepreneurs, in particular, have been underrepresented in the tech industry and often lack the financial resources to start their own businesses, Robinson said.

The grant will also support an apprenticeship program. This summer, people with people with low to moderate incomes and from groups such as members of minority communities and women will be placed on internships at local tech companies, he said.

Jennifer Tifft, director of strategic initiatives for the city, said the grant will also fund a scholarship program to support Syracuse’s “smart city” technology infrastructure initiatives.

Rick Moriarty covers economic news and consumer issues. Have a tip, comment or story idea? Contact him at any time: E-mail | Twitter | Facebook | 315-470-3148

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