There are a number of intriguing economic-development projects underway across the Pioneer Valley, but perhaps none more compelling — and for a number of reasons — than the initiative taking shape in a building in downtown Holyoke known as the Cubit.
There, a public-private partnership on several levels has materialized, bringing to reality an endeavor that will create momentum in realms ranging from job creation to the revitalization of Holyoke’s central business district.
The facility being created on the structure’s first and second floors is called the MGM Resorts HCC Center for Hospitality and Culinary Arts at Holyoke. That’s a long name (hopefully a suitable acronym or nickname will emerge), but it is necessary, because it really tells the story — or most of it, anyway.
Indeed, this is a partnership between Holyoke Community College (and therefore the state), the city of Holyoke, MGM Resorts, which is building a $950 million casino in downtown Springfield, and the new owners of the Cubit building, who will create market-rate housing on the upper floors. And it takes a partnership to develop a property like this, which is one of the many former mill buildings in the Paper City now looking for new life.
The college needed a new home for its culinary arts program, the owners of the Cubit building were looking for a tenant that would anchor the property for years to come, the city of Holyoke was looking for individuals to invest in their community (and help them in their endeavors), and MGM was looking for help in training individuals for the many kinds of jobs at its casino.
To make a long story short, all the parties seem to have found what they were looking for. Holyoke is contributing $400,000 for this project from the funds it will receive from MGM through neighboring community-impact payments, MGM is donating an additional $100,000 toward the center, the state is contributing $1.75 million, the U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration is kicking in $1.55 million, and the HCC Foundation is contributing $500,000.
Together, that adds up to $4.25 million, but more importantly, it adds up to opportunity — for the college, for the city, for MGM, and for the thousands of people who will be trained at the facility over the years.
This is a true public-private partnership, the kind this region will need to revitalize its communities, train a workforce, and bring economic-development opportunities to the area. It should serve as a model of what can be done when diverse groups with different, but intertwined, goals come together for the common good.