The Fortress Initiative is drawing praise from high places.
The York-based nonprofit was included in a list of innovative science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs highlighted by President Barack Obama at his sixth and final White House Science Fair.
The group on March 9 formally took control of the old Western National Bank building with the goal of creating “The Fortress of York,” a training facility designed to “prepare our region for the future through workshops, educational partnerships, community events, meet ups and showcasing emerging tech,” initiative President John McElligott said.
Obama’s remarks spotlight the plan as one of several inspired by presidential initiatives aimed at increasing STEM opportunities and entrepreneurship, including among young people and disadvantaged groups.
“To be included in this announcement is pretty incredible. I get the chance to talk about exponential technology and the challenges that it will create for third-tier cities all over the United States, but when I received the invite to the White House it was a little surreal,” McElligott said.
The White House described the initiative as planning to open its first “Disruptive Technology” center in York by the end of this year, and in four additional midstate locations by 2021.
“Through these centers, the Fortress Initiative and its partners, including Mantec and SCPa Works, will engage 1,000 employers and provide technical skills training to 300 17-to-29-year-olds of all backgrounds, with a focus on young people of color, veterans, and women,” according to a White House description. “In addition, the Initiative will raise a $20 million, multi-city venture fund to invest in entrepreneurs and students who complete the initiative’s training.”
John Lloyd, president and CEO of Mantec, a York-based nonprofit that assists manufacturers across southcentral Pennsylvania, said the group is pleased to partner with SCPa Works and the Fortress Initiative to support the White House’s “Computer Science for All initiative” and the “Educate to Innovate” campaign.
“At MANTEC we see technology training and education as a growing need. As manufacturers incorporate automation, robotics and IT into their businesses we must remain committed to ensuring manufacturing remains in the forefront of the South Central Pennsylvania economy,” Lloyd said.
More about the science fair can be found on the White House website and on this official blog.
For more on the initiative, see what McElligott recently told midstate manufacturers about his vision for the future of tech jobs, and what CPBJ had to say about that future in this blog post.