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IN THE NEWS: Administration Announces Grants to Support Economic Development in the Berkshires
July 16, 2010

Berkshires projects will create new economic development opportunities and leverage over $4.1 million in new private development in 2010

LEE - Friday, July 16, 2010 - As part of the Patrick-Murray Administration's historic $4 billion Massachusetts Works program that will put nearly 20,000 people to work across the Commonwealth, Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Greg Bialecki today joined with local officials to announce a grant to help fund the development of an adult learning center in downtown Lee, and toured the progress being made on the construction of a senior center in Sheffield. Together, these projects will use over $1.5 million in state and federal funding to leverage $4.1 million in new private development and create 46 construction jobs in the process.

The $735,000 Massachusetts Opportunity Relocation Expansion (MORE) Jobs capital grant announced today will fund the construction of a parking lot that will support the redevelopment of an historic building in Lee by the College Internship Program (CIP). The project will leverage $2.9 million in private investment and create 16 construction jobs and 7 new fulltime jobs over the next 24 months. 

"This is what it's all about - putting shovels in the ground and people to work immediately," said Governor Deval Patrick. "These projects are an excellent example of the critical collaboration and investment that leads to both construction and permanent jobs, as well as support for the long term investment in our communities that is critical to the Commonwealth's long-term economic success."

"During the 2010 construction season, it is encouraging to see this kind of immediate job creation that will support the Massachusetts' recovery now," said Lieutenant Governor Timothy Murray. "We are excited about today's groundbreaking, and we look forward to seeing this project through fruition, bringing long-term economic development, sustainability and growth for the region and the Commonwealth."

The College Internship Program project includes a complete rehabilitation of the historic 1895 Baird and Benton Block building, including the restoration of the building's original façade. CIP will locate its national headquarters in the upper stories of the building, which have been vacant for almost 50 years, and will also provide services to approximately 50 students between the ages of 18 and 26 with various learning disabilities at this location. The renovation will also support two new first-floor retail spaces, containing the Good Purpose Gallery, an organization affiliated with CIP which raises funding for college scholarships for students with learning disabilities, and a complementary coffee shop.

"I appreciate the continued and consistent attention the Administration has given to our top priority in Berkshire County - jobs," said Senator Benjamin B. Downing. "Whether it's building a new senior center or helping to preserve and revitalize downtowns, the Patrick Administration has been supportive every step of the way."

"We have been working on this project in Lee for the past couple of years, and these funds couldn't have come at a better time for the town. Lee has been especially hard hit during the recent recession with the closure of paper mills and resulting loss of jobs. This project will create much needed jobs and will provide a spark to the ongoing revitalization efforts of the downtown," said Representative Smitty Pignatelli.

"This project will accomplish much. This building's prominent place in the downtown historic district and its long commercial career reflect its importance to the downtown," said Rich Vinette, Executive Director Lee Community Development Corp. "The building will now be rescued, completely restored and repurposed, helping to create jobs and economic opportunity."

"The College Internship Program is thrilled to be working with the town of Lee, CDC and the Patrick-Murray Administration, and Allegrone Construction to complete this project," said Michael McManmon, President, CIP. "We are thankful for all the cooperation we have gotten from local and state officials working together to accomplish this goal."

Earlier in the day, Secretary Bialecki visited Sheffield to tour the progress being made on the construction of a new senior center, made possible though the award of $799,700 in ARRA Community Development Block Grants (CDBG-R) from the Patrick-Murray Administration. When complete, the building will be a 2,720 square foot wood framed structure with a full walk out basement, and will directly benefit 370 seniors. The project, which began in June, will create 30 construction jobs and is scheduled to be finished by December 2010. The federal recovery funds used to help fund the project come from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and are over seen by the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development for the purposes of supporting proposed infrastructure and public facilities as well as public housing modernization projects.

"Over the past 10+ years, we have had many false starts and dashed hopes in trying to bring a new Senior Center to fruition," said Julie M. Hannum, Chair, Board of Selectmen. "The Town of Sheffield has committed $450,000 of local funds to this project and we are thrilled that ARRA funding came through to support our efforts. We are very pleased to be working with the Commonwealth towards a successful project. It's a win-win for everyone."

These projects are part of an ongoing series of more than 50 housing and economic development projects, both renovation and new construction, expected to break ground this year, totaling more than $1 billion dollars in development investments in the Commonwealth. Each of these projects has been initiated by an investment from the Patrick-Murray Administration. Together, they will create thousands of jobs throughout Massachusetts.

These recent investments represent just part of the Administration's multi-pronged strategy for growth through supporting small businesses; regional economic development; and strategic investments in education, infrastructure and innovation. Key to supporting this strategy is partnership with local communities and the private sector that fosters residential and commercial growth, and the successful leveraging of a number of state resources that spur that growth including:

The Growth Districts Initiative - by working with communities to plan ahead for new growth and development that is consistent with their long-term community vision, regional needs and with the Commonwealth's sustainable development principles, the Administration is creating an entire network of places around the state where new growth is being welcomed and encouraged.

• The Chapter 43D Expedited Permitting - by working with communities to support prompt and predictable permitting for development that is consistent with community plans, dozens of communities have made a commitment to issue permits for commercial development in six months or less in order to helps facilitate targeted economic development that is consistent with their long-term plans.

• The Massachusetts Opportunity Relocation and Expansion (MORE) Jobs Capital program - by targeting public infrastructure investments and improvements needed to support private development activity and business expansion, cities and towns get the tools they need to spur economic development, job retention and expansion.

• The newly reformed Economic Development Incentive Program (EDIP) - by partnering with companies and municipalities focused on job creation, manufacturing job retention and private investment, the Administration is working to stimulate business growth throughout the Commonwealth.

• Through a wide array of state and federal programs administered by the state Department of Housing and Community Development, the Commonwealth can provide direct financial assistance, where appropriate, to residential and commercial development projects through low-cost financing, tax credits and other forms of financial support.

Learn more about the results of our strategic investments in new development here.

Learn more about how the Patrick-Murray Administration's agenda has led Massachusetts out of a global recession faster and stronger than the rest of the nation here.



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