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Pittsfield to Welcome MassDevelopment TDI Fellow

PITTSFIELD — MassDevelopment has selected Pittsfield, Brockton, and New Bedford for its second round of Transformative Development Initiative (TDI) fellows to advance local redevelopment visions in those cities’ TDI districts. The fellows, who will have experience in city planning, community partnership building, real estate, and economic development, will work in their host districts for three years in collaboration with local partnerships. These fellows follow the successful initial placements earlier this year in Springfield, Haverhill, and Lynn. “This grant is another recognition that Pittsfield is moving forward,” said state Sen. Ben Downing (D-Pittsfield). “Support through the TDI program will help revitalize the Tyler Street corridor and build on the great work of local business and community organizations.” MassDevelopment is accepting qualifications for these new fellows positions, which will begin in spring 2016, on its website. Staff members from Peabody and Worcester will participate in this round as adjunct fellows, joining cohort activities such as monthly meetings, skills building, site visits, and regional leadership development. Brockton, New Bedford, and Pittsfield are three of the 10 Gateway Cities selected in December 2014 as the pilot TDI districts in development, along with Haverhill, Holyoke, Lynn, Peabody, Revere, Springfield, and Worcester. As a part of the program, each will receive a range of real-estate-development services to support local visions for redevelopment, and to catalyze and leverage investments and economic activities. Everett and Malden are receiving directed regional planning and implementation assistance to advance their districts’ TDI visions. “The first three fellows have quickly become indispensable parts of the economic-development communities in Haverhill, Lynn, and Springfield by partnering with local organizations to create redevelopment opportunities,” said MassDevelopment President and CEO Marty Jones. “We look forward to the new faces that will arrive in Brockton, New Bedford, and Pittsfield to support those cities’ visions.”

State Adds 19 to Green Communities List

BOSTON — The Baker-Polito administration announced that 19 more cities and towns have been designated Green Communities by the Department of Energy Resources (DOER) and will receive more than $3.1 million for local clean-energy and energy-efficiency projects. The Western Mass. communities added to the list, and their funding, include Adams ($166,865), Bernardston ($131,290), Egremont ($138,570), Stockbridge ($139,625), West Springfield ($222,765), and Windsor ($137,880). “The Green Communities program demonstrates state and local governments can work together to save energy and taxpayers’ money, while making the Commonwealth a healthier place to live,” said Gov. Charlie Baker. “These 19 communities will be able to invest in energy efficiency and renewable energy, reducing energy costs and reducing their carbon footprints.” Added Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, “helping cities and towns reduce their energy consumption allows them to channel their financial savings into other municipal needs, like public safety, education, and municipal buildings. These grants further reiterate the Commonwealth’s ability to work with municipalities to ensure Massachusetts continues to be a leader in clean energy and energy efficiency.” The 155 Green Communities are cities and towns of all sizes that range from the Berkshires to Cape Cod and are home to 54% of Massachusetts’ population. All Green Communities commit to reducing municipal energy consumption by 20% over five years. “Through the Green Communities program, DOER is able to work with municipalities to find clean-energy solutions that reduce long-term energy costs and strengthen local economies,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton. “The commitment and hard work of these 19 communities to reduce their energy use and undertake clean-energy projects will help Massachusetts continue its leadership in energy efficiency, renewable energy, and emissions reductions.”

Holiday Sales Up 7.9% This Year

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The holiday shopping season isn’t quite over yet — many of those who received gift cards have yet to hit the stores — but a study has shown that it is already a solid one for retailers. Indeed, retail sales were up 7.9% between Black Friday and Christmas Eve compared to the same period a year ago, according to MasterCard SpendingPulse, which studies transaction and survey data on purchases made with credit cards, cash, and checks. The report found that e-commerce provided crucial holiday momentum this holiday season, with sales up 20% in that realm.

Defense-contract Work Contributed $20B to State Economy in FY 2013

AMHERST — The Commonwealth’s defense-contract work supported more than 88,000 workers and contributed more than $20 billion to the Massachusetts economy, while Massachusetts military installations directly or indirectly supported more than 57,000 jobs with a total economic contribution of more than $13 billion, in fiscal year 2013, according to two new UMass Donahue Institute reports. Massachusetts companies exemplifying the connections between the defense sector and small businesses include Holyoke’s Meridian Industrial Group, which does machining for portable MRI equipment; Southampton’s J&E Precision Tool, which produces components for Black Hawk helicopters, periscopes, and F-22s and F-35s; and CPI Radant Technologies Division in Stow, which develops components for military aircraft. “The Commonwealth’s six bases and defense-related firms continue to have a major impact on the Massachusetts economy, both in terms of jobs and dollars,” said Gov. Charlie Baker. “Academia, business, and technology — three of the Commonwealth’s top sectors — play a role in our installations and defense contracts, helping this industry serve as an economic driver. We look forward to their continued growth and contribution to Massachusetts.” The Massachusetts Military Asset and Security Strategy Task Force and MassDevelopment commissioned the reports. The first studied the impact of the Commonwealth’s six military installations — Barnes Air National Guard Base, Fort Devens Reserve Forces Training Area, Hanscom Air Force Base, Joint Base Cape Cod, U.S. Army Natick Soldier Systems Center, and Westover Air Reserve Base — and the Massachusetts Army National Guard and the U.S. Army Reserve. The second report studied the defense industry’s contribution to the New England economy, finding that, in fiscal year 2013, New England defense contracting generated nearly $49 billion and more than 218,000 jobs.

College Farm Market Project Launched with $25,000 Grant

GREENFIELD — The Rural Community College Alliance has awarded a $25,000 grant to Greenfield Community College (GCC), Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture (CISA), and the Franklin Community Co-op (FCC) to fund a new collaborative College Farm Market Project (CFMP). GCC farm and food systems and business majors will work as interns with CISA and FCC to enhance and expand on existing opportunities with farmers’ markets in the Pioneer Valley. The project’s goal is to develop a replicable model for coordinating food- and farm-focused education, marketing, and sales that support the growing sustainable farm movement in Western Mass. The RCCA grant will fund six three-credit paid internships for GCC students while the costs of the credits earned are covered by other grants the college has won. Three interns will work at FCC, and three will work at CISA. The grant also provides funds to defray some of the partner-agency staff time needed for this project and for staff to attend national and regional conferences to share information about the project with other colleges and organizations. This grant brings together three organizations that have significant impact on regional farm and food systems and will enhance coordination around food justice and development of farmers’ markets. The internships housed at FCC will continue the work of fall 2015 GCC interns to create a mid-week farmers’ market in Greenfield, seeing its development from its opening this spring through the remainder of the summer and fall. At CISA, the GCC interns will focus on broader regional issues that affect farmers’ markets in general, further food justice and SNAP matching efforts, provide replicable templates for building market business structures, and expand the customer base for locally grown foods that promote sustainable models for farm viability. Staff and administrators from the three organizations will meet regularly to develop long-term structures for interorganization collaboration for strengthening agricultural cooperative supports in the region. “This project enhances the learning of our students in farm and food systems and in business through work experience in which they can apply their academic work,” said Christine Copeland, SAGE assistant and internship coordinator at GCC. “It’s great for their career prospects, and they also make professional contacts and network with people in their field.”

State Issues Grants to Three Area Farms

BOSTON — The Baker-Polito administration recently announced that five Massachusetts farms with land permanently protected from development through the state’s Agricultural Preservation Restriction (APR) Program — including three in Western Mass. — have been awarded $400,000 in grant funding for infrastructure improvements. “These agricultural investments help create jobs and make Massachusetts’ farms more competitive in the national and global marketplace,” said Gov. Charlie Baker. “Our administration is committed to supporting Massachusetts’ vibrant agriculture industry, which provides fresh, healthy food for the Commonwealth’s residents.” The local grantees include Burnett Farm in Adams, $50,000 for barn expansion; Luther Belden Farm in Hatfield; $100,000 for dairy infrastructure improvements; and the Kitchen Garden in Sunderland, $75,000 for produce packing and storage building. The APR Improvement Program, established in 2009, is funded by the federal Farm and Lands Protection Program and is administered by the Department of Agricultural Resources. The program also provides recipients with technical and business-planning assistance to identify the best use of funds to improve farm infrastructure and productivity. Since 2009, AIP has provided more than $3.5 million in total grants (average $66,509 per farm) and $330,150 in technical assistance (average $6,229 per farm) to Massachusetts APR farms that own a combined total of more than 7,000 acres of protected farmland.

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