EDA & CED
The Center for Economic Development is pleased to express its work program
and mission within the framework of the new investment criteria presented by
EDA. We highlight our work as follows:
Collaborative Regional Innovation
Most of the Center for Economic Development’s activities supports the development of regional innovation clusters through participatory processes that engage stakeholders and facilitate broad collaboration across agencies and institutions. For example:
- Finding and Fostering Regional Economic Development is a collaborative endeavor with the Western Massachusetts Economic Development Council to develop a decision support system that can help practitioners identify the synergies that underlie the regional innovation clusters concept.
- The Innovation in Precision Manufacturing – New Technology to New Business project and the proposal for the Center for the Advancement of Building Systems, and technical assistance to the Holyoke Green High-Speed Computer Center, all work to establish linkages between UMass Amherst, area businesses, and other institutional partners in order to accelerate regional innovation in existing and emerging clusters.
- Several of our applied studies, such as the Economic Analysis of the 495-Metrowest Partnership, the Evolving Role of Knowledge and Skill in Regional Development, andmuch of the analytical work conducted through MASSBenchmarks examine the regional economy through the explicitly holistic lens of regional clusters.
All of our past year’s technical assistance projects either directly or indirectly involved some form of public-private partnership and/or leveraged complimentary investments by other governmental entities and non-profits. In nearly all of our technical assistance projects we insist on a commitment of matching funds in order to leverage complimentary investments, although often at a heavily discounted rate depending upon the resources of the client. Other projects involve direct collaboration between the public and private sector. Examples include:
- Innovation in Precision Manufacturing – New Technology to New Business which is in partnership with the National Tooling and Machining Association and the Hampden County Workforce Investment Board.
- The Pioneer Valley Economic Development Summit which included representatives from UMASS, area Chambers of Commerce, and numerous local development offices.
- The Holyoke Green High-Speed Computer Center where Cisco Systems, Inc. is a leading partner along with multiple Universities and state officials.
- A number of our Mill revitalization projects and studies focus on mills that are privately owned or leveraging private and public redevelopment funds.
National Strategic Priorities
Several projects meet national strategic priorities in emerging technologies and entrepreneurial capital. For example:
- Innovation in Precision Manufacturing – New Technology to New Business explicitly targets collaborative R&D with SMEs while addresses their needs for seed funding for applied R&D.
- The STCC Incubator Economic Impact analysis focuses both on the financial and physical capital needs of area tech-based SMEs.
- The proposal to establish a Center for the Advancement of Building Systems and the Holyoke Green High Speed Computing Center directly address national strategic priorities in clean energy, green technologies and sustainable manufacturing.
- The Feasibility study for the reuse of the UMass Gloucester Marine Station examines potential investments to use the facility as center for applied and experimental Marine Research.
- Our study of Place Attachment and Entrepreneurship also address capital deficiencies in its broad survey of the entrepreneurial climate of the Commonwealth.
- The study of the Evolving Role of Knowledge and Skill in Regional Development focuses on the skills gap(s) needed for workers to succeed in emerging technologies.
Many of our projects also aim to increase the global competitiveness of the private sector through investments that support high-growth businesses and innovation-based entrepreneurs. Examples targeting entrepreneurs and emerging markets include the STCC Incubator Economic Impact Analysis, Innovation in Precision Manufacturing – New Technology to New Business, Place Attachment and Entrepreneurship, Evolving Role of Knowledge and Skill in Regional Development, and proposal development for the Center for the Advancement of Building Systems.
The UMASS Center for Economic Development has a particular expertise in environmentally sustainable modes of development. Recognizing that the greenest building is that which often already exists, our sustainability agenda is particularly evident in the area of adaptive reuse of existing structures -- as featured in our Feasibility study for the reuse of the UMass Gloucester Marine Station, Ludlow Mill Revitalization Project, Hardwick Mill Redevelopment Options, Holyoke Green High-Speed Computer Center initiatives as well as our studies of the Mills of the Assabet River Corridor.
We also have strong expertise in the area of sustainable architecture and landscape design, as featured in our technical assistance for the Center for the Advancement of Building Systems and our support for studies of The Impact of Trees and Urban Green Space on Economic Vitality and Place Attachment and Entrepreneurship in the Massachusetts Economy both of which focus on the role that environmental amenities can play as an economic driver in the modern economy.
Economically Distressed and Underserved Communities
Although our area includes the entire Commonwealth of Massachusetts, much of our activity focuses on the Central and Western portions of the state—areas that historically lag the east in terms of income, employment, and poverty. Furthermore, Western and Central Massachusetts continues to struggle to find its niche in the innovation-based economy. These projects provide indirect benefits to distressed areas through regional capacity building and planning:
- Our multiple initiatives in Springfield and Holyoke (e.g. STCC-Incubator Economic Impact Assessment, Innovation in Precision Manufacturing – New Technology to New Business, Holyoke Green High-Speed Computer Center) directly target development in two of the most ethnically diverse and economically distressed communities in New England.
- Hardwick, Gloucester and Ludlow also struggle with continued poverty, blight and deficient employment opportunities.
- Several other initiatives, such as Innovation in Precision Manufacturing – New Technology to New Business, Center for the Advancement of Building Systems proposal development, Economic Analysis of the 495-Metrowest Partnership, the Pioneer Valley Economic Development Summit, State of the Economy Study for Southern Vermont, and the Mills of the Assabet River Corridor include distressed communities but have a broader, regional focus.