Mission

To represent the economic development interests of the city of Holyoke and the Pioneer Valley through active dialogue and participation during the development of a vision, design, and development plan for the innovation district to be anchored by a world-class, state-of-the-art High Performance Computing Center.

Goals

  • To articulate the innovation-based economic development opportunities associated with the emergence of an innovation district anchored by the proposed location of a high-performance computing center in Holyoke’s Canal District.

  • To help the City of Holyoke analyze and develop the spatial, organizational and business strategy that will help maximize the economic growth potential created by the presence of the HPCC in Holyoke, create the conditions for the emergence of digital technology industry and innovation district, and help the emergence of an innovation economy in the Pioneer Valley.

  • To engage with key stakeholders and expert organizations in the development of a strategy that will help attract advanced computing talent, entrepreneurs, investment and firms to Holyoke and the Pioneer Valley.

  • To assist in the design of incentives and initiatives that will help build relationships and partnerships engaging higher education and research institutions in the broader Pioneer Valley in the development of the innovation district.

  • To serve as interlocutors and liaisons of the region with state government officials with an interest in maximizing the economic development impact of the state’s major investment in the HPCC in Holyoke.

Project History

On June 11, 2009, Governor Deval Patrick, joined by MIT President Susan Hockfield, University of Massachusetts President Jack Wilson, Boston University President Robert Brown, Housing and Economic Development Secretary Greg Bialecki, and representatives of EMC and Cisco, signed a Memorandum of Understanding announcing the desire to locate a state-of-the-art Green High Performance Computing Center (MGHPCC) in Holyoke, Massachusetts.

Almost six years later, The MGHPCCanchors a new Innovation District that is catalyzing the innovation economy in Holyoke and the Pioneer Valley.

A regional/local Innovation District Task Force was established by MassTech in 2009 to guide the development of this District. The Task Force was responsible for the completion of a strategic plan which was completed in October of 2011. The 2014 Innovation District Annual Report summarizes the most recent strategies and implementation milestones established collectively by the Task Force.

Concurrent with the design and construction of the MHGPCC, the City of Holyoke was engaged in a series of planning efforts that culminated in a comprehensive, 20-year renewal plan to revitalize and redevelop its center city, where the MGHPCC is located. Construction of the MGHPCC also coincided with the formation of the Massachusetts Gateway Cities Initiative, which brought new attention to the need for economic development in mid-sized urban centers such as Holyoke that anchor regional economies around the state. This led to the creation of the Holyoke Innovation District Task Force, which has worked with City government, business leaders, and community organizations to encourage local and regional economic development.

Prior to the renewal plan, private investors had made numerous and diverse investments in the center city, including Open Square, PorterHouse Media, Paper City Brewery, Paper City Studios, and Fln-Mar Manufacturing. These were complemented by public investments such as Holyoke Heritage Park and the Holyoke Canalwalk.

As the first new project to locate in the Holyoke Arts and Innovation District after its formation, the MGHPCC brought attention to the city and its revitalization efforts. The MGHPCC is a member of the Innovation District Task Force, and has worked with the City's Office of Planning and Economic Development to promote its renewal plan and other initiatives to increase economic activity in downtown Holyoke.

Subsequently, private investors, state agencies, and the City have brought visible change to the Holyoke Arts and Innovation district. New businesses moving to the district include Gateway City Arts, Simple Diaper and Linen, The Brick Coworkshop, and VertitechIT. Projects designed to attract new activity include proactive acquisition, renovation and environmental remediation of several neglected properties, and sponsorship of architectural studies to help building owners estimate renovation costs. Extension of the Canalwalk, tree plantings, street light improvements, a matching grant program to help downtown businesses improve their storefronts, and other programs are all contributing to visible change.

Looking ahead, restoration of daily train service to Hartford and New York City and completion of a new rail platform in 2015 will stimulate investment in another part of the Arts and Innovation district. Development and renovation of new housing will further improve the look and feel of the district.