Navy Yard Workforce Program Receives $525,000 Federal Grant

by Navy Yard
May 3, 2023

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Through the strong support of Congresswoman Mary Gay Scanlon (PA-05), PIDC recently received a $525,000 grant for its innovative workforce program – the Navy Yard Skills Initiative (NYSI). Congresswoman Scanlon secured the Community Projects Funding commitment for NYSI in 2022 and PIDC recently completed the administrative grant process to access the funds.

NYSI is a partnership between PIDC and University City District’s West Philadelphia Skills Initiative (WPSI) to increase stability and economic opportunity for unemployed and underemployed Philadelphians.

 “Congresswoman Mary Gay Scanlon has been an incredible advocate for the Navy Yard Skills Initiative and our Navy Yard companies,” said Kate McNamara, PIDC’s senior vice president at the Navy Yard. “We are thankful for her continued support for such an important program that connects unemployed and under-employed Philadelphians with well-paying career opportunities in Philadelphia. The Navy Yard is home to 15,000 employees from more than 150 companies, ranging from industrial shipbuilding to life sciences and cutting-edge manufacturing.  There are quality job and career opportunities for all Philadelphians, no matter their background.”

This grant will enable the continuation of the Biomedical Technician Training Program: Aseptic Manufacturing for a second cohort of 20 new participants at Navy Yard business and employer partner, Iovance Biotherapeutics. The first Biomedical Technician Training Program cohort graduated in March 2023 where ten participants started in positions at Iovance starting at $23.50/hour. The program was also recognized as the Workforce Champion of the Year in the 3rd Annual 2022 BioBuzz Awards.

“We’ve been thrilled to continue expanding the partnership with PIDC to identify and train for quality positions within the Navy Yard,” said Cait Garozzo, executive director of the West Philadelphia Skills Initiative. “In just a few short years, the program has expanded into exciting new industries, and we can’t wait to help deliver top local talent for another partnership with Iovance Biotherapeutics thanks in large part to the efforts of Congresswoman Scanlon.”

The BioMed Tech Training, the first of its kind in the region, is an innovative, high-touch workforce training model that was collaboratively designed with Iovance Biotherapeutics. The program connects Philadelphians to robust biomedical training at The Wistar Institute and offers program graduates a direct path to full-time, career-ladder employment as Associate Aseptic Manufacturing Technicians at Iovance. Calibrated specifically to meet the needs of a burgeoning sector, the BioMed Tech Training is designed for replication across industry employers.

“We are fortunate to participate in the inaugural Biotech Technician Training Program and to welcome graduates of the program to the Iovance team,” said Tracy Winton, senior vice president, human resources, Iovance Biotherapeutics. “NYSI has built an exceptional program to support Philadelphians with new employment opportunities. We look forward to hosting a second training cohort later this year and hope to see continued expansion of this program in the future.”

NYSI Statistics

Since its inception in 2020:

  • Total cohorts: 9
  • Participants served: 128
  • Graduates connected with full-time quality jobs: 99
  • Job placement rate for program graduates:  93.52%
  • Participating Navy Yard companies:
    • Four Seasons Total Landscaping – 1 cohort (Ground Maintenance Laborer Program)
    • Iovance Biotherapeutics – 1 cohort (Biomedical Technician Training Program: Aseptic Manufacturing) (another one scheduled for fall 2023)
    • Jefferson Health – 1 cohort (Patient Registrar)
    • Philly Shipyard, Inc. – 4 cohorts (Shipyard Union Apprentice)
    • Tasty Baking Company – 2 cohort (Production Associate)

About West Philadelphia Skills Initiative
The West Philadelphia Skills Initiative (WPSI) is one of the nation’s most successful workforce development organizations. For over 10 years, WPSI has solidified its role as one of the highest performing workforce intermediaries in the country by building customized talent solutions that bridge the divide between unemployed Philadelphians seeking opportunity and employers seeking talent. WPSI focuses on professional development and career coaching for

About PIDC and the Philadelphia Navy Yard
PIDC is Philadelphia’s public-private economic development corporation. Since acquiring the 1,200-acre site from the federal government in 2000, PIDC has been the master developer and site operator of the Navy Yard. PIDC’s mission—to spur investment, support business growth, and facilitate developments that create jobs, revitalize neighborhoods, and drive growth to every corner of Philadelphia—strongly informs its strategy for the Navy Yard, where the focus is on building a cohesive community that fosters employment, innovation, and production. PIDC manages all aspects of the property’s management and development, including master planning, leasing, property management, infrastructure development, utility operation, and structuring development transactions. |

About The Wistar Institute
The Wistar Institute is the nation’s first independent, non-profit biomedical research institute and a world leader in early-stage discovery science in the areas of cancer, immunology, and infectious disease. Wistar recently announced the creation of the Hubert J. P. Schoemaker Education and Training Center to bring together its education programs for high school, undergraduate and graduate students as well as postdoctoral fellows, with its expanding pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeship training, including the newly named Fox Biomedical Research Technician (BRT) Apprenticeship.

About Iovance Biotherapeutics
Iovance Biotherapeutics aims to be the global leader in innovating, developing and delivering tumor infiltrating lymphocyte (TIL) therapies for patients with cancer. We are pioneering a transformational approach to cure cancer by harnessing the human immune system’s ability to recognize and destroy diverse cancer cells in each patient. Our lead late-stage TIL product candidate, lifileucel for metastatic melanoma, has the potential to become the first approved one-time cell therapy for a solid tumor cancer. The Iovance TIL platform has demonstrated promising clinical data across multiple solid tumors. We are committed to continuous innovation in cell therapy, including gene-edited cell therapy, that may extend and improve life for patients with cancer. For more information, please visit

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