By Rick Sullivan
Over the past decade, the city of Springfield has made many advancements towards the goal of job formation and opportunity. We have continued the trend of job development, now with an added focus on technology. In an effort to bring the Pioneer Valley’s largest city into the forefront of the cyber realm, the Western Massachusetts Economic Development Council (EDC) has been facilitating the development of this industry over the years, which has successfully led to a new, on-the-ground investment project, now spearheaded by Springfield Technical Community College (STCC), with an emphasis on careers in technology.
Located at Union Station directly in downtown, this state-of-the-art technology center will offer education and hands-on job training to individuals looking to seek careers in the tech field. This initiative provides an opportunity to grow and develop a workforce that will ensure long-term job stability and meet the ever-growing cyber needs of community businesses.
Four components will drive this project and allow the community at large to not only benefit, but contribute to its success in meaningful ways:
• Educational offerings: Colleges and universities in the region such as STCC, Bay Path University, UMass Amherst, Western New England University, Elms College, and Springfield College will provide training opportunities to students, leading to jobs in the future.
• Municipality involvement: Technology experts are always in demand and rarely available within governmental sectors. This program will provide access to trained and skilled individuals, ready for hire.
• Military support: Westover and Barnes Air Force bases have already expressed interest in being able to train their workforce in the ever-growing field of technology. Both employers plan to support and hire from within the program.
• Small-business benefits: Manufacturing and other sectors are constantly seeking individuals with cyber certification. This new center will provide the much-needed resources to bring cutting-edge technologies to local businesses.
This project has significant state financial backing, having just received its first $1.5 million in grant funding. The design stage of the project has begun, and the center is slated to be open and accepting participants during the fall of 2023. This center is an essential economic-development strategy to modernize and innovate the business infrastructure. We expect to see substantial growth in the cyber-industry arena, benefiting the financial and economic vitality of the region.
For more information on this project and its progress, visit www.westernmassedc.com.
Rick Sullivan is president and CEO of the Western Massachusetts Economic Development Council.