Caret says UMass will expand presence in Pioneer Valley

By DailyCollegian.com Staff

Matt Modica/Collegian

University of Massachusetts President Robert Caret announced his plans to increase UMass involvement in the Pioneer Valley at the Holyoke Chamber of Commerce annual economic development breakfast Thursday, Jan. 26.

“In spite of how well we’re doing as a University in working with our regional development partners, my sense is that the people I’ve met want us to do more,” said Caret at the breakfast. “I absolutely believe we should do more where we can. It won’t be easy at a time of diminished resources, but we have to try to deliver as much as we can on our mission of service.’’

His plans include the completion of a $168 million Mass. Green High Performance Computing Center (MGHPCC) by the end of 2012, building a $95 million life sciences research center and a development facility specifically designed for University-industry collaboration and to position Holyoke as a “test-bed” for new clean energy technology, according to a press release from the University.

Caret also spoke of plans to help educate the Pioneer Valley workforce by “bringing together multiple educational institutions and their degree programs to one central location, combined with online offerings, to help meet the needs of the Pioneer Valley region’s workforce,” according to the release.

Caret said he hopes that these plans will help to spur new business in the cities. For example, the release stated that UMass will support “local efforts to use the MGHPCC and a high-speed data center in Springfield to grow and attract other information technology companies seeking inexpensive green power and IT connectivity.”

The life science building will be “specifically designed” to encourage University collaboration with industry,” according to an article on MassLive.com

Caret also recognized that Massachusetts represents a significant portion of the business and workforce in the Pioneer Valley, due to the location of UMass Amherst, the flagship campus.

“We are a $2.8 billion business with 16,000 employees. Almost all the individuals we hire live in communities like Holyoke and Springfield and spend their dollars here. We contribute $5 billion in economic impact across the state,” said Caret, according to MassLive.com.

The speech was part of a bus trip that included stops in Springfield, Holyoke and Amherst. State Sen. Michael Knapik, a Republican of Westfield, and State Rep. Michael F. Kane, a Democrat from Holyoke, also spoke at the breakfast, according to Masslive.com

Katie Landeck can be reached at [email protected].