The Mohawk Valley Resource Center for Refugees in Utica is getting a new home to improve and expand its services.
The organization, which resettles hundreds of refugees each year and provides additional services like adult education and job placement, won $1.75 million in the latest round of New York state's economic development awards. The grants, along with donations from community partners, will be used to renovate the former home of the Utica School of Commerce. The center has been leasing the building in downtown Utica since last fall, and they plan to eventually purchase it.
Grants director Jennifer VanWagoner says they have seen a drop in the number of resettlements in the past year because of a slowdown by the Trump administration. But she says the new space was sorely needed because the number of people they serve is still growing.
"We also have a lot of programs and services that serve immigrants as well, so this provides an opportunity for us to expand the number of people that we serve," VanWagoner said.
VanWagoner said the building is more accessible than their prior location because most of the center is located on one floor. And it will provide enough space to offer all of their programs under one roof.
"There just is a lot of support, a lot of services, that we are able to provide and this just kind of helps complete that circle of comprehensive services for the community," VanWagoner said.