Empire State Development Announces Grand Opening of the Nicholas Center and Spectrum Designs in Westchester County

$2.2 Million Expansion Will Employ Individuals on the Autism Spectrum and Provide Pre- and On-The-Job Training for Success in the Workforce

Empire State Development today announced the grand opening and expansion of the Nicholas Center and Spectrum Designs, partner organizations specializing in supporting individuals on the Autism Spectrum, including vocational training to make screen printed and promotional products in Pleasantville, Westchester County. The Long Island-based Nicholas Center and its partner organization, Spectrum Designs Foundation, have expanded to Westchester County and will employ individuals on the Autism Spectrum who receive personalized, extensive pre- and on-the-job training to be successful and gain valuable skills in the workforce.

"As we focus on our economic recovery, we want to make sure that critical job training opportunities are available to all New Yorkers," Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul said. "New York State is proud to support the grand opening and expansion of the Nicholas Center and Spectrum Designs, which will employ and provide personalized, extensive pre- and on-the-job training to individuals on the Autism Spectrum. This is how we make success accessible for the post-pandemic future."​ 

Empire State Development Acting Commissioner and President & CEO-designate Eric Gertler said, “Investing in our workforce is vitally important across the state, especially as we recover and rebuild our economy in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis. We are very fortunate to have partners such as The Nicholas Center and Spectrum Designs Foundation who are providing training and support for those with disabilities, so they have an opportunity for meaningful employment and more importantly, a sense of accomplishment and well-being that truly benefits the entire community.”

New York State Department of Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon said, “This partnership is the perfect example of how we can work together to support all members of our workforce, including those with disabilities, by providing them with training and connecting them with jobs they love. I applaud The Nicholas Center and Spectrum Designs for their dedication to supporting their communities, and more importantly for helping all employees thrive.”  

Co-Founder & CEO of Spectrum Designs Foundation, Patrick Bardsley said, “Our end goal is always to provide more paying jobs to this very talented, yet under-served, population. We are so fortunate to have found a home in Pleasantville and look forward to hiring and retaining even more accomplished individuals who will excel in the various production and administrative roles that we have to offer.”

Co-Founder and Executive Director of The Nicholas Center, Nicole Sugrue said, “We are proud to have expanded our services to Westchester County and to partner with many organizations, businesses and neighbors in the region to further our mission. Thank you to the Mid-Hudson REDC and the Governor's Workforce Development Initiative for their unwavering support. For 10 years, working with our partner Spectrum Designs Foundation, we have addressed some of the most pressing issues facing the Autism community and developed innovative solutions to drive transformational change, even during the greatest health crisis of our time. We have worked to advance inclusion, bridge gaps in service disparities, and support the needs of people with Autism across Long Island, and now in Westchester.”

Spectrum Designs Foundation has invested over $2.2 million to purchase and equip an 8,400 square foot commercial property in Pleasantville to expand their custom apparel and promotional products business, allowing them to produce twice as many goods while enriching the Westchester community. To assist with this project, the Mid-Hudson Regional Economic Development Council awarded Spectrum Designs Foundation a Round IX Capital Grant of $240,000 through Empire State Development for this project which will create 18 new jobs in the next three years.

Additionally, both Spectrum Designs Foundation and the Nicholas Center have been awarded $300,000 through the Governor’s $175 million Workforce Development Initiative. Since 2019, when Governor Cuomo announced $175 million State investment for job training projects, nearly $32 million dollars in awards have been announced to 278 projects benefitting more than 18,000 New York workers to support strategic regional efforts that meet businesses’ short-term workforce needs, long-term industry needs, improve regional talent pipelines, enhance the flexibility and adaptability of local workforce entities, and expand workplace learning opportunities.  

Mid-Hudson REDC Chair Donald P. Christian, President of SUNY New Paltz said, “As we emerge from the COVID-19 crisis, continuing the focus on workforce development is integral to the recovery of the regional economy. We are proud to support The Nicholas Center and Spectrum Designs Foundation, which will offer access to job coaches and training for individuals on the Autism Spectrum as well as community programs at Spectrum Designs, further promoting opportunities and inclusivity in the workforce.”

State Senator Peter B. Harckham said, “The presence of the Nicholas Center and its partner Spectrum Designs here in Pleasantville represents a strong and broad commitment to meeting the needs of unique individuals in the Autism arena, while also confirming the idea that diversity and inclusion enrich all of us. In creating commercial operations that offers Autistic people opportunities to learn, grow and interact meaningfully with other residents, the Nicholas Center is helping to reboot New York’s post-pandemic economy as well. This wholehearted effort, combined with investments from Empire State Development’s Mid-Hudson Regional Economic Development Council and Governor Cuomo’s Workforce Development Initiative, is another step toward a more equitable future for our society.”

Assemblyman Thomas J. Abinanti said, “I applaud the Spectrum Design and Nicholas Center’s innovative model, which gives people with disabilities real employment while meeting the community’s needs for various products. Their model proves again that we should look not at people’s disabilities, but their abilities. And that everyone, if given the chance, can make a contribution to our community.”

Westchester County Executive George Latimer said, “I would like to thank Empire State Development for their leadership on this very important project, which at the end of the day fills an important need for people with Autism and other disabilities. The Nicholas Center creates an opportunity for individuals on the Autism Spectrum to access the training they need to become fully integrated into the workforce and provides an opportunity for them to lead productive lives through their careers.”

Pleasantville Mayor Peter Scherer said, “We are delighted to welcome the Nicholas Center and Spectrum Designs to Pleasantville. The opportunities they offer people with autism — and the products and services that their team will produce — make Pleasantville stronger, better, and more inclusive.”

About The Nicholas Center  

A 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, supporting individuals with Autism and related disabilities in leading full and productive lives in the community and through the world of work. TNC promotes inclusion and offers opportunity via community engagement, vocational training and peer connection.  

About Spectrum Designs 

Spectrum Designs is a full-service custom apparel and promotional items business with a social mission: to help individuals on the Autism Spectrum lead full and productive lives through the world of work. The Spectrum Enterprises family includes sister organizations Spectrum Bakes, which specializes in homemade granola and other snacks, and Spectrum Suds, a boutique Laundromat. As a nonprofit, 100% of proceeds go to furthering the mission.

Both are located in Port Washington, NY.   

About Empire State Development

Empire State Development (ESD) is New York’s chief economic development agency (www.esd.ny.gov). The mission of ESD is to promote a vigorous and growing economy, encourage the creation of new job and economic opportunities, increase revenues to the State and its municipalities, and achieve stable and diversified local economies. Through the use of loans, grants, tax credits and other forms of financial assistance, ESD strives to enhance private business investment and growth to spur job creation and support prosperous communities across New York State. ESD is also the primary administrative agency overseeing Governor Cuomo’s Regional Economic Development Councils and the marketing of “I LOVE NY,” the State’s iconic tourism brand.  For more information on Regional Councils and Empire State Development, please visit www.regionalcouncils.ny.gov and www.esd.ny.gov.


Kristin Devoe | [email protected] | (518) 414-1087 

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