Contact: Kelly Vence


Public Information Office


ELIZABETH, NJ—July 12, 2012 — In a ceremony held early Tuesday morning, fifteen students received certificates for completing the English as a Second Language II Program. In April, these same students graduated part one of the program. Mayor J. Christian Bollwage joined Gordon Haas CEO and President of The Greater Elizabeth Chamber of Commerce, Mary Arias, President of the Morris Avenue Merchant Association and Aydalid Valencia, the Instructor of the ESL courses, to congratulate graduates in their achievement and successes.

“When I walked into the graduation yesterday the smiles found on each graduate’s face spoke of both excitement and accomplishment” said Mayor J. Christian Bollwage.  “These classes give individuals the opportunity to learn a new language, as well as perfect important reading and writing skills that will ultimately benefit them in the future.”

The ESL program was being offered in coordination with the grant-funded New Jersey Business and Industry Association (NJBIA) project. This state-wide initiative trains business employees at an on-site facility such as Union County College. In addition to ESL courses, training is also available in Computer Applications, Communications as well as Mathematics Measurement. 

“As CEO and President of The Greater Elizabeth Chamber of Commerce, I am overjoyed by the success of this ESL program,” said Gordon Haas. “Educating employees is vital to the success of Elizabeth’s merchant community.” 

In an effort to improve growth potential and communication proficiency for Hispanic workers, more than twelve businesses in the Morris Avenue District participated.

Across the City, in Elizabethport, another company also took part in an English as a Second Language course. Garylin Togs, one of the few “Made in America” apparel manufacturers left in the United States, joined forces with Body Wrappers a small dancewear manufacturer and became one of the country’s top dancewear suppliers.

Teaming up with Urban Workforce Advantage to offer this ESL course, Body Wrappers enrolled in the program to help better their employee’s futures. Through the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development, Division of Workforce Grant and Program Management, thirty students participated and graduated from the program in a ceremony on June 28th. Their participation demonstrates an exceptional example of their commitment to developing the skills of their staff and improving their business efficiency.

Urban Workforce Advantage, a company in Elizabeth whose goal is to help successfully employed participants retain employment and continue to improve their skills, received these funds from the Customized Training/Literacy Grants program under the New Jersey Supplemental Workforce Fund for Basic Skills.

The City of Elizabeth is the fourth largest municipality in the State of New Jersey with a population of nearly 125,000. In addition to this initiative, training programs are also available through the Retail Skills Center, which is managed by Union County College and located at the Jersey Gardens Mall.

For more information, please call Phyllis Reich at 908-820-4037.