Thursday, June 11, 2009

Techy Future for Gateway Cities?

From Governor Patrick:
HOLYOKE – Thursday, June 11, 2009 – Governor Deval Patrick, MIT President Dr. Susan Hockfield, UMASS President Dr. Jack M. Wilson, Boston University President Dr. Robert Brown, Joseph M. Tucci, Chairman, President & CEO of EMC, and John T. Chambers, Chairman & CEO of Cisco Systems today announced a collaboration that will lead to the development of a world-class, high-performance computing center in Holyoke, and a statewide collaborative research program. The center will be powered by a combination of green and cost-competitive energy, making it a cost-effective and environmentally sound facility....

The Patrick Administration, MIT, the University of Massachusetts, Boston University, EMC, and Cisco have signed an agreement committing to work collaboratively over the next 120 days to create an action plan with the ultimate goal of building and opening the new facility and forming the statewide research agenda. The plan will be assisted in part by the John Adams Innovation Institute and local collaboration of Holyoke Mayor Michael Sullivan and the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission, and will seek to identify the operational, capital, environmental, workforce, and academic elements of the project, along with a project timetable, which will be completed in several phases. Other major institutions and private companies are expected to join the collaborative effort.

“This is a cutting edge concept, and its impact on the city will be significant,” said Congressman John Olver. “The Computing Center will dovetail nicely with other big projects underway in Holyoke like the Multimodal Center and the Canalwalk. This is a very exciting time for the city.”

"This is an incredible opportunity for this Gateway City to re-invent itself and Holyoke cannot thank Governor Patrick and his economic development team enough for being our advocates,” said Mayor Sullivan. “I have long spoken to the issue of the ‘Holyoke advantage’, the difference is that Governor Patrick listened and understood how the City and the state could leverage their assets to create something powerful. It is a beautiful day in Holyoke.”

We, as a Commonwealth, need to figure out some way to bring our Gateway Cities the same prosperity that Greater Boston's enjoyed. Lynn tried to do something similar to Holyoke in the late 90s/early 2000s, capturing on the internet explosion. Several startups moved into Lynn and for a while it looked like it would fuel a reemergence of Lynn as being a great place to live and work.

Alas, the internet bubble burst. However, what Holyoke is building, because it's fueled by much more than startups - leveraging state, city, academic and private sector resources - has a much greater chance of finding success. What's more, these things tend to cluster. If this center, when built, is successful, it will fuel startups and expansions nearby. It could just mean hundreds of very good jobs for the area. Now we just need to figure out what to do with half a dozen other Gateway Cities in Massachusetts.

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