Finger Lakes Features: IEC Electronics

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo earlier last month, announced the groundbreaking of IEC Electronics Corporation’s new, state-of-the-art facility in Newark, Wayne County. The electronic manufacturing solutions provider plans to create up to 362 new jobs and retain 463 positions at the new 150,000-square-foot facility located at the Silver Hill Technology Park. IEC has already added 175 jobs at its current facility in Newark over the last 18 months. The company had considered moving out of New York State, but chose to remain in the region with support from the Governor and Empire State Development. IEC plans to move to and begin operations at the new facility in early 2020.

“New York is committed to working with established and innovative businesses as they expand and grow to ensure secure, good-paying jobs remain in our Upstate communities,” Governor Cuomo said. “By investing in IEC Electronics, we are helping this long-standing, successful community business evolve, resulting in the creation of hundreds of top-quality jobs that will continue to move the Finger Lakes region forward.”

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IEC Electronics President & CEO Jeffrey Schlarbaum CREDIT IEC ELECTRONICS

Michael Mandina and Richard Plympton receive Herbert W. Vanden Brul Entrepreneurial Award

Michael Mandina, left, and Rick Plympton, President and CEO of Optimax Systems

The Herbert W. Vanden Brul Entrepreneurial Award is “presented annually to an individual or business that has improved the economic life of Greater Rochester or whose innovation management skills have changed the course of an existing business” (, 2019) by Saunders College of Business at RIT. Mr. Mandina, President of Optimax Systems, and Mr. Plympton, CEO of Optimax and Vice Chair of the Finger Lakes Workforce Investment Board, Inc., were presented with the 2019 award, having been credited with being an inspiration to local aspiring entrepreneurs.

Optimax was founded in 1991, Mr. Mandina was the first full time employee and Mr. Plympton joined in 1995. Since then the two have strived to grow the economic health of the Finger Lakes region and even have a program within Optimax to fund new companies that are started by employees with entrepreneurial spirit.

The Finger Lakes Workforce Investment Board and staff are proud to work closely with both Mr. Plympton and Mr. Mandina in strengthening our region. Congratulations!

Finger Lakes Features: Joseph Dean, on Advanced Manufacturing Career Pathways

FLWIB Executive Director Karen Springmeier and Joseph Dean at FAME’s annual event, hosted by MCC on April 30th

Advanced manufacturing is the practical application of science and technology. Companies have outgrown their pools of skilled workers, and are eagerly recruiting to train and fill these positions. There are a variety of post-secondary education programs available, which provide candidates the opportunity to acquire a real salary, gain on-the-job experience and earn a college degree. This is a risk-free stepping stone, which is applicable to many different career paths – even those beyond manufacturing.

I first learned about manufacturing at Monroe Community College. Through MCC and the NY Inspire Grant, I was able to complete the Precision Machining Certificate Program and receive entry level tools of the trade, all free of charge. The learning environment was truly immersive and laid a strong foundation with which I could enter the job market. While I was attending school, I began working part-time at Micro Instrument Corp, and was offered a full-time position upon graduation. In just six months, I was able to go from having no manufacturing experience to starting a new career.

I am a second-year tool maker’s apprentice at Micro Instrument Corp. My department specializes in low volume precision machining. I am given blueprints and models to use in order to manufacture parts to customer’s specifications. The planning and execution are left up to me, allowing me to incorporate my own creative process into each part. It is easy to compare this work to a game of chess, every move must be strategized, every move plays into a win or loss. I feel a strong emotional connection to the success or failure of each part I make.

I had initially pictured vocational training to provide a stable, but modest career path. On the contrary, Micro and the NYS Apprenticeship Program are strong advocates for higher education and are consistently pushing me to pursue my interests. I truly feel like I am at the beginning of my career. I am happy to have made this decision and encourage more to do the same.

Joseph Dean,
Second-year tool maker’s apprentice at Micro Instrument Corp.

Finger Lakes Features: John Mueller Recipient of Midlakes Graduates of Distinction

Mr. John Mueller, co-owner of Willow Bend Farms and past Chair of FLWIB

Beginning in March 2016, the Midlakes Graduates of Distinction Committee have chosen alumni of Midlakes High school who have “achieved distinction through outstanding accomplishments or lifetime achievements and sharing these with the collective community” (Graduates of Distinction,, 2019) to receive this accolade.  Mr. John Mueller, co-owner of Willow Bend Farms and past Chair of the Finger Lakes Workforce Investment Board, Inc., has been named as a 2019 recipient.

Along with his leadership role in the FLWIB, Mr. Mueller has served on Dairy Promotion boards, as the past president of Ontario County Farm Bureau and currently serves as Chair of Trustees for the United Methodist Church of Clifton Springs.  Mr. Mueller is also a member of the Farm Credit Customer Service Council and Cornell University Agriculture Advisory Board, all while growing Willow Bend Farms, which has been owned and operated by the Mueller family since 1960.

The Finger Lakes Workforce Investment Board would like to thank Mr. Mueller for his guidance as past chair, past vice chair and member of the Executive and Performance and Evaluation committees – along with his invaluable donations of time and milk to the advanced manufacturing and skilled trades career exploration event, “Finger Lakes Works…with their hands!”.  Congratulations, Mr. Mueller!

Finger Lakes Features: “Serving Community Healthcare in the Finger Lakes”


The eighth annual career exploration program coordinated by the Healthcare Alliance of the Finger Lakes and the Finger Lakes Workforce Investment Board was held March 19th at Finger Lakes Community College’s Canandaigua Campus and saw 200 high school students from 16 local school districts.

“This event enables students to learn firsthand about well paying, middle–skilled jobs that are right in our back-yard” says Recruiter/Generalist for Thompson Health Sue Kirkwood. “We are trying to educate students, teachers and parents now so that there is a ‘pipe-line’ of talented workers in the future” says Kirkwood. According to the New York State Department of Labor the fastest growing jobs in the region include jobs from healthcare and social services. These jobs often require certificates, licensing or two year degrees and offer good salaries and benefits.

Students attending were able to participate in activities and presentations from area employers and training providers while learning about educational qualifications, salaries and specific job duties. Employer representatives from Finger Lakes Health, Thompson Health, Littlejohn Orthodontics, and the YMCA presented information on everything from what it is like to be a Physical Therapist to requirements for working in the field of orthodontics. Instructors from Finger Lakes Community College, Rochester Educational Opportunity Center and Rochester Institute of Technology, provided hands on activities related to careers in Massage Therapy, Nursing, Exercise Science, “Participation from members of the industry really highlights the need for a skilled workforce in the future,” says Kirkwood. “We are hopeful that some of the students attending this year may become the healthcare professionals participating in following years.”

Finger Lakes Features: New Vision Medical Career Program

The New Vision Medical Career Program provides an exciting “new vision” of blended academic, experiential learning, and career education, targeting high school seniors with an interest in medical careers.

Members of the Finger Lakes Workforce Investment Board received a presentation on the program from Finger Lakes Technical & Career Center Instructor Laura Van Niel, M.S. at March’s board meeting earlier this week. Accompanying Ms. Van Niel were three current students who spoke of their experiences in the program.  

Offered cooperatively by Finger Lakes Health and the Finger Lakes Technical & Career Center (part of Wayne-Finger Lakes BOCES) for component school districts, this program allows students to explore medical careers.  Qualified high school students must apply in the winter of their junior year for the competitive selection process.

Utilizing an interdisciplinary approach, students master Nursing Assistant competencies useful in a wide-range of careers that enable them to interact with patients and medical staff while on 24 clinical rotation sites.  Rotation sites are arranged in 4, 6-week blocks of analogous units; Diagnostic, Acute Care,  Unique Populations, and Surgical to enhance students’ understanding of patient/resident care, increase retention of clinical knowledge, and master system-based practices.  Computer Based learning modules introduce students to specific principles and medical-surgical disorders of human organ systems they are likely to observe while on rotation.  Directed Experiences outline each rotation, providing a guide for students to be proactive about their learning opportunities.  The hospital based interdisciplinary classroom approach allows students to study health sciences, English, government, and economics simultaneously and apply this practice-based learning throughout the132-bed general acute care hospital.

Graduates from the program have been accepted at over 170 post-secondary institutions in 29 states; 3 Ivy League Universities, the U.S. Naval and Army Academies, and various direct entry (accelerated) professional programs.

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From left to right: Sarah Bernard, Joe Brinza and Adam Novak.

Finger Lakes Features: Terphane, LLC.

From left to right: Ellen Smith, Marcos Vieira, Arash Thompson, Bob Stekl, Kathleen Wise, Mike Nickens, of Terphane, LLC.

Terphane LLC. located in Bloomfield New York.

Congratulations to Terphane LLC. for being recognized by The New York State Society for Human Resource Management (NYS-SHRM) as one of the Best Companies to Work for in New York for their outstanding achievements in employee engagement.

The Best Companies to Work for in New York State award recognizes the best employers in the state. It is a distinctive program that evaluates and ranks the best places of employment based on employee satisfaction and engagement, as well as workplace practices and policies.

The 12th annual Best Companies to Work for in New York list is comprised of companies with operations in New York State, split into three groups: 26 small employers with 15 to 99 U.S. employees, 23 medium employers with 100-249 employees and 26 large employers with 250 or more employees.  Terphane Inc. was recognized in the “Small Employers (15-99 U.S. Employees)” category.

Terphane has over 40 years of experience in film design, coating, metallizing, specialty coextrusions, and more. Terphane’s broad offering of unique, value-add PET film products begins by compounding their own resins. Terphane transitions that into their wide range of products that provide solutions for small customers and global brand owners. They offer a variety of options for lidding, high barrier, retort and hot fill applications.  As the only US owned PET film manufacturer in the world, Terphane continues to re-invest millions of dollars in new technology, state of the art equipment, and most importantly, relationships with their customers.  These choices make Terphane a leader in all aspects of the packaging marketplace.

In 2018, Terphane created their velvety matte film and a LIDBAR film that extends shelf life, improving overall product sustainability. Beyond film technology, they’ve also created software improving service to their customers and their access to their products. The next phase launches in 2019.

Terphane encourages employees to keep learning and acquiring new knowledge.  Employees are able to participate in the “Day in the Life” program where they can shadow any position in the company.  Operators take initiative for their own development through Terphane’s skills matrix program, which rewards operators as they develop new skills.  Additionally, employees are invited to participate in “Terphane Talks” during lunch to learn about innovative practices and how they can impact the business.  Communication through Terphane’s new mobile app helps contribute to employee engagement, as employees are invited to post on the timeline and create group chats. 

 “I enjoy working at Terphane because of the individuals I work with and the team-work environment that promotes a positive work atmosphere, continuous development, and individual growth,” says Kathleen Wise, Accountant.

“It’s like a big family,” says HR Manager, Karen VanDerEems.  “Employees look after each other.  For example, if an employee spends an overnight in the hospital, co-workers will cook meals in the company kitchen to be delivered to the employee’s home.  Employees also formally recognize their co-workers through our Cheers for Peers program and our safety program on a regular basis.”

Terphane strives to be known as a premier employer in the community and a driving force behind plastic film innovation focused on sustainability and creative solution ideation.

Finger Lakes Features: Michelle Coomber – Disabled Veterans’ Outreach Program Specialist

Michelle Coomber (center) receiving award from New York State Department of Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon (right) with Nathaalie Carey, Deputy Commissioner for Administration and Chief Financial Officer at the Department of Labor. (on left).

Michelle received the Individual Award of Excellence from the State Commissioner of Labor last month in Albany.

Individual Award of Excellence recognizes someone who demonstrates consistent, excellent performance in everyday tasks and/or outstanding effort in a specific project or assignment, including results above and beyond expectations, excellent customer service, consistent quality work, high production levels and a continuous positive attitude. The person displays commitment, quality, integrity and professionalism in his or her work.

The Finger Lakes Workforce Investment Board congratulates Michelle for receiving this award for the service provided to veterans looking for employment.  

Finger Lakes Features: Finger Lakes Equipment Rental

Located on Routes 5&20 between Geneva and Waterloo, Finger Lakes Equipment Rental has been providing equipment to the area since owner Ray Turri left his machinist job in 2007, a recent Finger Lakes Times article stated.  Finger Lakes Works is proud of the relationship with Finger Lakes Equipment Rental that has developed over the years.  Finger Lakes Equipment Rental has used Finger Lakes Works On-the-Job-Training (OJT) program to find and train new workers.  They have also been a Summer Youth Work Site for Seneca County Summer Youth Program.    Additionally, they have supported Finger Lakes Works…with their hands!, a skilled-trades career exploration event for high school students, by donating heavy equipment for demonstrations.

Click here for the full Finger Lakes Times article.