A Victory on Many Levels

The recent announcement that Thing5 LLC will be creating a new call center in One Financial Plaza, thus bringing 500 new jobs to Springfield, is a positive story for the city and the region — on a number of levels.
Let’s start with the jobs. That’s priority No. 1 in the Greater Springfield area, and it has been for many years now. Some might look at this and say, ‘it’s only call-center jobs,’ or words to that effect, but these opportunities come on many levels, from entry positions to management slots, and, in many cases, they can be handled by those who do not possess a college education. The region needs those high-quality jobs (call them white-collar, if you like), but it also needs employment opportunities like these, especially in such large volume.
Beyond the employment factor, there are many other aspects to this story, all of them positive. First, this company started here, in the Technology Park at Springfield Technical Community College — which was created to spur this kind of tech-related enterprise — and thus provides solid evidence that we can incubate ventures and grow them into major employers.
Also, this company stayed here. Indeed, when it reached that proverbial next level, there were, quite obviously, opportunities to take Thing5 almost anywhere — because there isn’t a city or town in the Commonwealth or well beyond it that wouldn’t fight, and fight hard, for 500 jobs. But management chose to stay in the City of Homes, largely because of the lower cost of living, available workforce, access, quality of life, and affordable commercial real estate.
This shows that our various assets are tangible — and sellable.
But perhaps the biggest benefit will come in the form of greater momentum downtown. First, this move gives a substantial boost to the office tower known as One Financial Plaza, which has had several dark floors for many years, but has been staging something of a comeback recently.
Beyond that, though, the 500 new employees working downtown will provide a larger critical mass of people needed to spur additional investments, be they in support businesses, hospitality-related ventures such as restaurants and clubs, or badly needed retail.
And there is another component — the possibility that some of these employees may soon be working and living downtown, thanks to a program that will offer reduced lease rates to Thing5 employees at the nearby Morgan Square apartments, managed by the same company (Samuel D. Plotkin) that also manages One Financial Plaza. This additional residential piece could further stimulate investment in the central business district and be a key contributor to the kind of vibrancy that other Northeast cities have enjoyed.
As we said, there are many angles to this positive story for Springfield and its downtown. The headlines were all about the jobs coming to the city — and that’s an important aspect of this — but there are many other elements that bode well for the City of Homes.