Page 9 - BusinessWest December 7, 2020
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(although not at this particular moment in time), high-rent areas.
It has also shown professionals, and especially young people, that they don’t necessarily have to live in one of those urban areas — like Boston, Seattle, or San Francisco — to get the kind of rewarding, high-paying jobs they’re all looking for.
“Because of the pandemic, quality of life has become something that people can really con- sider when they’re determining their work/life balance — you don’t need to be in the expensive big cities to be able to have the kinds of jobs
in this region, there is, by most all accounts, more recognition of possible opportunities and more of a combined enthusiasm for seizing it.
“I think there’s more of a critical mass,” Creed noted in reference to the collective efforts she’s seeing. “Before, it was this organization or this person; now, everyone is seeing it, and I’m hear- ing that more real-estate brokers are actively seeking businesses to come here.
“And I’m hearing it from business owners as well,” she went on. “They’re saying, ‘why do I need to have downtown space in the larger mar- kets?’ So I think there is opportunity.”
platform is currently being tested and should be on the chamber’s website soon.
The chamber is partnering with the city, which will also be able to put Localintel on its website, she went on, adding that the chamber will be adding another tool specifically for start- ups, partnering with Valley Venture Mentors in that initiative.
“It walks you through all the steps you need to go through to start your business,” she explained. “And then, you go to the next suite of tools, which will walk you through the customers, the compe- tition, and more.”
In Good Company
Beyond simple lessons in geography regarding where companies can be located, the pandemic has provided some other lessons as well, said Sullivan, especially those related to supply chain and what can happen when overseas links in that chain are broken.
Indeed, a number of major manufacturers, as well as local anchor businesses such as hospitals, colleges, Big Y, and others, have expressed inter- est in making their supply chains more reliable, he told BusinessWest, adding that these senti- ments would indicate that there are opportuni- ties for this region to build on its already-strong manufacturing sector.
“We’ve seen, partially because of the pan- demic, that supply chain, when it’s overseas and all split up, is much less reliable,” he explained. “That’s an opportunity for us because manufac-
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“I think there’s more of a critical mass. Before, it was this organization or this person; now, everyone is seeing it, and I’m hearing that more real-estate brokers are actively seeking businesses to come here.”
But there have always been oppor- tunities for this region when it comes to effectively selling its quality of life and lower cost of living. The $64,000 question at the moment is whether COVID will become a type of X-factor and drive interest in an area that has tra-
 people are looking for,” he explained. “You can really focus on your work/life balance, and you can really focus on your quality of life, and that’s where Western Massachusetts really shines. You can be working remotely, you can be telecom- muting, and you can have that quality of life, that cost of living, that we have in Western Mass. that’s very attractive.”
As that story about Hawaii makes clear, West- ern Mass. is certainly not alone in this thinking. Indeed, there will be plenty of competition. But
ditionally drawn that kind of head-nodding that Plotkin talked about, but certainly not as much action as most would like.
And the answer to that question is certainly unknown at this point. But it’s clear that there is now growing interest in at least trying to sell the region in a more aggressive way.
Measures like Localintel, a step recommended in the Future Cities study released in 2016, are a part of such efforts, said Creed, noting that the
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