Knowledge Corridor Event
Hats off to the folks at the Hartford-Springfield Economic Partnership for a great event this past week. I attended the Knowledge Corridor event held at the Holiday Inn in Enfield CT. The Knowledge Corridor is essentially the area that goes up and down Interstate 91, through Western MA and northern CT. The marketing of this area as one region (versus two regions/states) is a great concept and an effort that will certainly pay off in the long run (if it hasn’t already). The event was a nice mix of local and state figures.
That said; while it was refreshing to listen to DECD Commissioner Catherine Smith speak (relatively) specifically about the region and its accomplishments AND challenges, it was equally disheartening to listen to MA Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Gregory Bialecki speak in such broad terms about the same. While Mr. Bialecki talked about the region and projected 2-2.5% growth rates I couldn’t help but think to myself, does he understand that Western Massachusetts has one of the highest unemployment rates in the region. The rate in Springfield? 10.1%!! Holyoke? 9.35! The vast majority of towns in Western MA are at or above the State of MA rate of 6.4%. Does he understand that Western Massachusetts has one of the highest industrial vacancy rates in the region? There are presently more than two dozen buildings over 100,000 sf available in Western MA!
I get increasingly bothered by “political speak”. You know, those political responses to questions that either don’t answer the question or answers them in such broad terms that, again, it really doesn’t answer the question. Western MA has always been the poor step child to its eastern brethren. It’s time that the state stops talking a good game about the region and instead offers solutions. Canned responses can not be accepted. Only solutions. Solutions that can be proven by the numbers. At this point the numbers show there haven’t been many solutions…only a lot of “political speak”.
See attached MassLive article