UMass Amherst and its host communities of Amherst and Hadley have shared a long rich history over the past 150-plus years. Besides its positive impact on the local economy, UMass Amherst adds to the cultural richness, intellectual depth, and ethnic diversity of the Amherst Area and the region.
Numerous town-gown collaborations benefit our host communities and campus. These partnerships provide unique educational opportunities, support community and civic organizations, and enhance the region's quality of life. They are built on a shared desire to make UMass Amherst and its surrounding town great places to live, work, play, and learn.
The proud birthplace of poet Emily Dickinson, Amherst, Massachusetts is a college town with three institutions of higher learning: Amherst College, Hampshire College, and the University of Massachusetts. With approximately 38,000 residents, it is the largest community in Hampshire County. The epitome of the town and country experience, Amherst has a pleasant downtown supplemented by four village centers and dozens of cultural attractions, including eight museums, an independent art house cinema, and venues for performing arts and music. The town has permanently conserved nearly a third of its land and is home to fifty working farms. It is an ethnically diverse community with strong schools, an excellent bus system, and near major cities.
In Amherst, spotting a resident rock star, famous writers, or a Nobel laureate lounging in a downtown cafe is a fairly regular occurrence, due in part to the influence of the University and the colleges which combine to create a vibrant and dynamic intellectual atmosphere and attract world class faculty. It is often cited as a top American college town and a great place to retire.
For over 350 years, Hadley has been known for the richness of its soils and the quality of its crops. Hadley, crowned the "The Asparagus Capital of the World" was also known for its fine tobacco, which was, for many years, the preferred wrapper for high-quality Caribbean cigars, and was hung in scores of slatted barns throughout its many farms. Bordering the Connecticut River, and home to UMass Rowing, Hadley has a burgeoning tourism market, attracted to the area's farms and its scenic byways.
Home to around 5,000 residents, Hadley has become a regional hub for commerce, attracting many nationally-known retailers to compliment an ethnically diverse and locally-owned, small business mix that has expanded over the years to meet the growth of UMass Amherst. With its busy commercial stretch, but rooted agricultural core, Hadley is home to hundreds of UMass employees.
About the Pioneer Valley
The Pioneer Valley, which involves the three counties of Hampden, Hampshire, and Franklin counties, is a diverse patchwork of urban centers, unspoiled forest, farmland, and great natural beauty. With its college towns of Amherst, Northampton, and South Hadley; emerging arts communities of Greenfield and Easthampton; and resurgent cities of Holyoke and Springfield, the Valley is region of great potential in which UMass Amherst plays a vital role as a leader in what is also known as the Knowledge Corridor.
The University's influence, economic impact, and imprint go well beyond its host communities. Our staff, faculty, and students live all throughout the Pioneer Valley, and many serve their cities and towns with distinction or give their time to community groups and non-profit boards. The University is active in the economic development in the cities of Holyoke and Springfield, and also have deep relationships with the school districts of our region's Gateway cities.
Hampden County, anchored by the state's third largest city, is home to major corporations and is a hub for health-care and innovation. The UMass system has invested in a Springfield Center, home to courses from all five system branches. In Holyoke, UMass is a partner in the Green High-Speed Computing Center. Hampshire County economic base is driven by tourism, arts, agriculture, and education. Franklin County, with just over 70,000 residents, is the most rural county in Massachusetts, and yet over 15% of its economic activity is based on manufacturing.