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Author: The BCW

Westchester Innovation Network Launches New City Labs Initiative in White Plains

The Business Council of Westchester’s Westchester Innovation Network (WIN) has launched a new CityLabs project with the City of White Plains and Iona University to understand workforce development opportunities in Westchester and leverage the White Plains Education and Training Center to support workforce growth.

Students from Iona University’s Hynes Institute for Entrepreneurship & Innovation will spend the next four weeks working on ways to revitalize a job training program located in White Plains’ Brookfield Commons (formerly the site of Winbrook houses), a housing community with affordable housing units in downtown White Plains. Winbrook Houses previously held job training classes on site, including cooking, cybersecurity, phlebotomy, and more.

White Plains Mayor Thomas Roach said a vibrant workforce training program will be a welcome part of the robust business community in the city, which includes healthcare, retail, dining and construction.

“I feel very strongly that this building should have a job training site,” said Mayor Roach, adding that he thinks the WIN program is an excellent fit for coming up with new ideas about how to revitalize the program and finding ways to implement them.

Rob Kissner, Iona’s GaelVentures program manager at the Hynes Institute for Entrepreneurship & Innovation, led the other CityLabs projects and is excited for the new project in White Plains.

“This is a unique opportunity to take what you’re learning in the classroom – which is effectively a vacuum without the variables that shape the real world – and engage with real stakeholders, and solve real problems,” Kissner told the students.

Dr. Aakash Sapru, Assistant Professor at the Hynes Institute, said, “We need a human-centered approach to innovation. We have to empathize with individuals and see things from their perspective” in order to accurately define problems and come up with innovative solutions.

“I have seen Iona students come up with fabulous ideas and provide fresh views to so many other cities in Westchester County. I’m looking forward to hearing their great recommendations about workforce development in White Plains,” said Dr. Marsha Gordon, the Business Council of Westchester’s president and CEO. 

“There’s a tremendous opportunity here,” said Dr. Christoph Winkler, Founding Program Director of the Hynes Institute for Entrepreneurship & Innovation at Iona University. “We’re adding to a student’s education and also moving towards finding solutions for a real problem.”

WIN’s CityLabs initiative was first launched in 2022. To date, Iona students have completed projects in Peekskill, Mount Vernon, New Rochelle and Yonkers.

Photo caption, Pictured with students at City Hall, from left Mayor Tom Roach, Christoph Winkler of Iona University; Rob Kissner of Iona University and BCW President & CEO Marsha Gordon. 

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