April 21, 2009
CONTACT: Gordon Ovenshine:
RLA celebrates 1,000,000 people hours of training
SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - The Regional Learning Alliance learning and conference facility, conceived and developed by Slippery Rock University, promotes economic development in western Pennsylvania by providing corporate training opportunities for more than 500 companies as well as classes for thousands of college students.
The RLA will host a reception from 1 to 3 p.m. Tuesday at the facility to mark a milestone - 1 million people hours of professional development training provided. Robert Smith, SRU president, will offer remarks.
"One of the keys to the success of western Pennsylvania is providing corporate workforce training. The RLA provides the kind of activities that are going to keep local companies competitive regionally, nationally and internationally," said Bruce Russell, dean of the SRU College of Business, Information and Social Sciences.
"In the current economy, providing corporate training is critical to the viability and growth of the local economy," Russell said. "We feel we are fulfilling the mission of providing a premier workforce development and conference facility while at the same time being the largest collaborative education facility in the U.S."
"The fact that we've approached 1 million hours of people training shows that companies in the area have found us to be a valuable resource," he added.
The RLA, which opened in August 2004, offers meeting and training space to area organizations specifically for the training of employees, as well as undergraduate and graduate-degree program academic classes. The RLA staff plans and executes business meetings and conferences, allowing corporate clients to focus on their organization's objectives.
Companies that have taken advantages of the RLA training opportunities are some of the largest employers in the region. They include: Westinghouse Electric Corp.; H.J. Heinz Co.; MSA; McKesson Automation Corp.; Verizon Wireless; PPG Industries; MEDRAD Inc. and Siemens Water Technologies.
Westinghouse is building a new corporate headquarters that will employ at least 3,000 people within a mile of the RLA in Cranberry Township.
T"They [Westinghouse] had identified our facility as one of the eight reasons that helped them make their decision," Russell said. "To have a quality, professional development training location nearby has to be helpful."
The RLA provides an investment in the entire region by enhancing employees' job skills and academic credentials, said Justin Griffith, general manager.
"We have grown tremendously year after year. We are thankful to the 500-plus organizations that have developed their employees at our facility and look forward to celebrating this milestone with them," he said.
Only training hours provided to employees of regional businesses, not academic degree program classes, were counted toward the 1 million milestone, Griffith said. If a company with 100 employees delivers two hours of training, that equals 200 people training hours.
"Companies come here to the RLA for professional development, to build career skills," Griffith said. "Examples of our training include Heinz using our facility to develop new marketing strategies, MSA holding a global conference to talk to different segments of its company to grow them, or a company that has had a weeklong sales-team session tacking new ideas due to the economy."
"Westinghouse has been utilizing the RLA since January of 2008. In the training arena, we have held several sessions of our "Management Foundations I" course for new managers at the RLA," said Mike Naughton, Westinghouse manager of nuclear services, training and learning. "We also have done skill-building courses for incumbent managers and employees serving in lead roles. The RLA staff has consistently been well prepared and extremely helpful. The employees at the RLA are very customer focused and work with their customers to resolve concerns or issues quickly, if something does come up. The classrooms are well equipped, comfortable and conducive to the type of interactive training sessions typically held in Westinghouse."
T The RLA offers package pricing, 28 wireless meeting rooms and can accommodate up to 350 people for conferences, said Kari Zavolta, RLA director of sales and marketing. Each room includes a screen, LCD projector, computer, speakers and microphones. The RLA is a LEED Silver green building and is the only facility in western Pennsylvania to exceed all certifications of the International Association of Conference Centers.
Food service options include a continental breakfast and lunch and an afternoon snack. "We say that 'if you leave hungry, it's your own fault,'" Zavolta said.
The RLA, in the Cranberry Woods Office Park straddling Cranberry Township in Butler County and Marshall Township in Allegheny County, has 14 higher education partners. They are Butler County Community College, Carlow University, DeVry University, Gannon University, Geneva College, La Roche College, NOVA Southeastern University, Pennsylvania State University (Beaver and New Kensington), Pittsburgh Technical Institute, Robert Morris, University, Strayer University, West Virginia University and Slippery Rock University.
Slippery Rock University is Pennsylvania's premier public residential university. Slippery Rock University provides students with a comprehensive learning experience that intentionally combines academic instruction with enhanced educational and learning opportunities that make a positive difference in their lives.