Dean Gary KecskesHelping Greater Bridgeport Train for Economic Recovery

Trumbull resident Gary Kecskes, installed as dean of Workplace Development for Housatonic Community College three months ago, is preparing Greater Bridgeport for economic recovery.

By Aaron Leo

Like many of the unemployed in this recession, Gary Kecskes (prounounced kes-kes) had to reinvent himself after being laid off.

Now Kecskes, who recently moved to Trumbull, is tasked with helping others train for new careers and helping businesses as dean of Workplace Development for Housatonic Community College in Bridgeport.

In addition to designing certificate courses, many of which are in the medical field, Kesckes creates corporate training programs. An educated workforce will attract businesses and helping existing businesses could keep them in the state, he said.

The goal is to "position Housatonic Community College as the provider of choice for corporations, for businesses, for mom-and-pops," he said in a recent interview. He designs the courses, holding a certification in the Management of Lifelong Education from Harvard University as well as several architecture degrees.

Trumbull could benefit from the department's services. It is a mix of small businesses and chain stores, from the stores at the Westfield Trumbull Mall, which is undergoing renovations, to all the small businesses in mini malls on Main Street. The corporate campuses are all on the edge of town.

"I looked at a variety of communities. [Trumbull] has a very bucolic atmosphere which I was immediately drawn to," Kecskes said.

Trumbull is in the territory of 11 communities Housatonic's outreach program serves. The other communities are Bridgeport, Fairfield, Easton, Monroe, Shelton, Seymour, Ansonia, Derby, Milford and Stratford.

In terms of business, Trumbull is growing, with a new medical office building proposed on Quarry Road, and an idea from two doctors to raze and rebuild the former Bank of America building at the top of Church Hill Road. The two doctors have not filed any building plans yet.

Also, instrument manufacturer Scan Tool & Mold Inc., at 2 Trefoil Drive, wants to expand its offices by 12,385 square feet and create a 61-car paved parking area. The request would make Scan Tool & Mold's building 57,400 square feet. It recently won approval from the Inland Wetland and Watercourse Commission.

Services such as Housatonic's are one part of the equation to bring business back to Connecticut.

"Our goal is to become the premier business solutions provider for Housatonic's 11-town service region. When the looming economic recovery takes hold, businesses will want to know whom to call to meet their education and training needs. We want to the first call they make," Kecskes said in a press release. "It is our goal that Housatonic Community College becomes the training provider of choice for Eastern Fairfield County."

Paul S.Timpanelli, president and chief executive officer of the Bridgeport Regional Business Council, said programs such as those coming from Kecskes' department should be in place.

"I think it's beneficial. It's one of the roles of the community college," he said.

Kecskes' department's message speaks to everyone, because everyone has been touched by the recession. The dean said college graduates have an edge in the job market and have increased earnings over their lifetimes. Also, continuing education will more than pay for itself in the long run, he said