More money and jobs possibly coming to WMass

BOSTON (WWLP) – Massachusetts cities and towns are still having a hard time bouncing back from the Recession, but five western Massachusetts Gateway Cities could see more money and jobs coming their way.

The Joint Committee on Economic Development heard testimony on Governor Deval Patrick’s bill that would boost business and jobs throughout western Massachusetts.

The Governor is proposing a one-time fund of $15-million for 26 cities where household incomes and college graduation rates fell below state average.

There are five Gateway Cities in western Massachusetts: Chicopee, Holyoke, Pittsfield, Springfield and Westfield.

One committee member questioned how just $15-million split up among 26 cities can do anything substantial.

According to Rep. Aaron Vega, (D) Holyoke, “The big thing we’re going to look at today (Thursday) is how does a one time investment in the Governor’s bill really transform things as opposed to creating a long lasting investment over the next few years.”

The Gateway Cities program aims to foster business expansion, provide workforce training and create more jobs in cities and towns struggling to bounce back from the Great Recession.

Holyoke State Representative Aaron Vega told 22News that it’s not that western Massachusetts businesses don’t want to expand; he said there’s just not the workforce in place to do so, and this bill plans to tackle that.

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