Governor’s business plan to help Westover and UMass

$5 million is being allocate to UMass Amherst

CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – Governor Deval Patrick released a business plan on Friday that will benefit Westover Airport/Westover Air Reserve Base in Chicopee and UMass Amherst.

According to news release sent to 22News from the Chicopee Mayor’s office, the governor announced four initiatives to benefit the Westover region and the proposed creation of a UMass Amherst Research, Development, and Training Center in Chicopee.

First, Governor Patrick has allocated up to $5 million to UMass Amherst to support the creation of a Research and Development partnership program at Westover ARB.

Second, the Massachusetts Military Asset and Security Strategy Task Force is working to partner with stakeholders to map out a plan to expand runway hours.

Third, a $100,000 study will explore the potential for investment to attract an airline or private operator to provide MRO services at Westover Air Reserve Base/Metropolitan Airport.

Fourth, Westover Airport has re-launched www.westoverairport.com and produced new marketing materials to attract new businesses.

“Westover Airport and Westover Air Reserve Base are two stellar assets with so much potential for smart growth,” said Governor Patrick. “To support the region’s economy and potential for more private and commercial air service I commissioned this report to look at a wide variety of options. I’m pleased with the team’s effort and with UMass Amherst’s plan to open a Research, Development and Training Center in Chicopee to tap into the innovative minds in the city and region.”

To read the Business Plan visit Click Here.

Below is the entire statement from the Chicopee Mayor’s office, with more details:

Governor Deval Patrick today released a business plan on growth opportunities at Westover Airport outlining numerous steps the Commonwealth and Greater Chicopee region can undertake to grow the economy in Western Massachusetts and to support the mission of Westover Air Reserve Base (ARB), the joint user of the military and civilian airfield.  As a result of the plan’s findings, Governor Patrick announced four initiatives to benefit the Westover region including the proposed creation of a UMass Amherst Research, Development, and Training Center in Chicopee.

“Westover Airport and Westover Air Reserve Base are two stellar assets with so much potential for smart growth,” said Governor Patrick.  “To support the region’s economy and potential for more private and commercial air service I commissioned this report to look at a wide variety of options.  I’m pleased with the team’s effort and with UMass Amherst’s plan to open a Research, Development and Training Center in Chicopee to tap into the innovative minds in the city and region.”

First, Governor Patrick has allocated up to $5 million to UMass Amherst to support the creation of a Research and Development partnership program at Westover ARB.  This funding would be used to lease and renovate a vacant Westover ARB building to establish a National Aeronautics, Research, Development, and Training Center with UMass Amherst as the lead institution.

UMass Amherst is in the process of partnering with NASA on several innovative research projects leveraging promising new technologies to promote efficiencies, safety and economic growth in aviation.  This research would be performed at the proposed Center by UMass Amherst and its industry partner M2C Aerospace, a Massachusetts based woman-owned small business.  The Commonwealth’s funding leverages $15 million in private investment and sponsored research to be conducted by UMass-Amherst and benefiting Federal agencies.  This site would also host a school to train Air Traffic Controllers and pilots; and provide aviation related courses for the next generation of researchers and engineers to develop future technologies.

The proposed Aeronautics Center will also serve as a nexus for government and industry to collaborate on future aviation initiatives.  The Westover site will house state-of-art laboratories, including a high fidelity 3D simulation-based training capability that meets the FAA’s requirements for certifying air traffic controllers at U.S. aviation facilities.  A significant number of air controllers in the New England region are expected to retire in the next 10 years which will increase the demand for a modern educational facility.

This approach could be adapted for new civilian controllers, which—in combination with the transitioning military controllers—would help alleviate the FAA’s shortage of certifiable controllers and allow for joint military training with Westover’s staff.    It is estimated that this partnership could generate millions of dollars annually in research, education, and training from a combination of government agencies such as the Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security, NASA, the U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Aviation Administration and the aviation industry.  This fall, Governor Patrick celebrated the grand opening of the UMass Center in Springfield.  This Chicopee site will add to the already strong educational assets in Western Massachusetts.

“This partnership involving UMass Amherst, NASA and industry will address vital national needs in the aviation sector and help revitalize the Western Massachusetts economy,” said UMass Amherst Chancellor Kumble R. Subbaswamy, who also serves as a member of the Military Task Force.  “This is a perfect match for our role as one on the country’s top research universities, applying our expertise to enhance the safety of air travel and foster economic opportunity.”

Second, as many of the ideas outlined in the plan require 24 hour runway access for success and economic growth, the Massachusetts Military Asset and Security Strategy Task Force is formalizing their past effort as part of a working group to partner with stakeholders to map out the implications of expanding runway hours.  Much of this effort has begun through the Air Force’s Community Partnership program and will continue with this plan as a guide.  These stakeholders include Westover Air Reserve Base, MassDOT, Westover Metropolitan Airport, the Westover Metropolitan Development Corporation, the City of Chicopee, other municipalities near the airfield, the Greater Chicopee Chamber of Commerce, and the Galaxy Council.

Third, to support the pursuit of a Maintenance, Repair, and Overhaul (MRO) Facility, a $100,000 study will explore the business case, design for hangar renovation, and potential for investment to attract an airline or private operator to provide MRO services at Westover Air Reserve Base/Metropolitan Airport.  This project is approved and was announced earlier in 2014 as part of Governor Patrick’s FY15 Capital Plan.

Fourth, Westover Airport has re-launched www.westoverairport.com and produced new marketing materials to attract new businesses.

“I have always considered Westover to be one of our nation’s most valuable and strategic military assets,” said Congressman Richard E. Neal.  “It is the largest Air Force Reserve base in the country with a unique worldwide mission.  The installation is also an important regional economic engine employing thousands of people and pumping millions of dollars into the local economy.  That is why I welcome today’s Business Plan from Governor Patrick outlining the state’s renewed commitment to the base and airport.  It is my belief that local, state and federal stakeholders must work with together with the private sector in order to maximize the use of this very important aeronautical resource.”

Led by the Military Asset and Security Strategy Task Force, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT), which funded the plan, and MassDevelopment, the Westover Airport Business Plan reflects more than six months of data collection, research, and analysis in cooperation with the Westover Airport Business Plan Project Stakeholder Committee.  This Committee included representatives from economic development agencies, airport advisory board members, local businesses, military personnel, and academia.

“Focusing on targeted efforts to increase operations at Westover Airport for the benefit of the regional economy and Air Force Reserve is a win for all involved,” said Acting Transportation Secretary and CEO, Frank DePaola. “This Business Plan, an effort led by the MassDOT Aeronautics Division, has the potential to revolutionize how Westover Airport does business and serves residents, industry and the military in the Pioneer Valley.”

“The Air Force values solid working relationships with the state, and appreciates its recognition of Westover’s facilities and as a valuable joint-use airport,” said Colonel Michael Miller, Acting 439th Airlift Wing Commander at Westover ARB.  “Westover men and women look forward to the opportunities the base has with working with the Commonwealth.”

The Plan sought to reduce Air Force operating costs, enhance Air Force mission, and enhance economic development opportunities for Massachusetts and the region.  The Plan focused on the development of objectives to improve the financial and mission sustainability of Westover ARB and Westover Airport, along with the identification of actions to achieve those goals.

“This Business Plan is an important tool that establishes steps to be utilized as we increase Westover Metropolitan Airport and Westover Air Reserve Base’s role in Chicopee and the surrounding area,” said Mayor Richard Kos of Chicopee.

To read the Plan visit http://www.massdot.state.ma.us/Portals/7/docs/WestoverAirportBusinessPlan.pdf

The Plan found that Westover Metropolitan Airport, ARB, and their partners should pursue locating the following assets at the civilian side of Westover:

  • Maintenance, Repair, and Overhaul Facility
  • Air Charter Service
  • General Aviation/Corporate Service
  • Commercial Air Service
  • Aviation/Aerospace Education Initiative
  • Consolidated Public Safety Facility

On the military side, Westover ARB should identify creative strategic solutions that set the stage and pattern to align with Air Force Policy directions while maintaining the quality of the installation and the mission.  Identifying potential opportunities for community assistance/sharing could benefit local and regional communities economically and simultaneously benefit the Air Force in its goals to decrease costs while improving facilities and services.  The Plan found that Westover ARB and its partners should pursue locating the following assets on the military side of Westover:

  • Joint Westover Plan with Westover Airport
  • Preservation of Capacity for Future New Missions
  • Expansion of Aerial Port Capabilities
  • New Fixed or Rotary Wing Mission Potential
  • Supply Chain Space Offer
  • New Controlled Airfield Technology to expand runway operating hours

“As an active member of the Westover Community Partnership, the President of the Greater Chicopee Chamber of Commerce and a resident of Chicopee, I am confident that the increased role of Westover Air Reserve Base in the Chicopee community and the investment into making Westover Metropolitan Airport a local hub for low cost carriers and airplane maintenance will have a positive economic impact for business, the military and the community at large,” said Eileen Drumm, President of the Greater Chicopee Chamber of Commerce.

“The Westover Metropolitan Development Corporation Board of Directors thanks Governor Patrick, MassDevelopment and the Military Task Force for their concerted attention to the future of both Westover ARB and the Westover Metropolitan Airport,” said Allan W. Blair, President/CEO of the Western Mass Economic Development Council.  “The completion of the Business Plan provides a fresh blueprint for Westover Airport’s growth.  We look forward to developing specific strategies to implement the plan, thus adding to the significant economic impact created by the airport.”

Westover Metropolitan Airport and Westover Air Reserve Base

Westover Airport (CEF), a 91-acre public use airport, is co-located with Westover Air

Reserve Base in Chicopee in the heart of the Pioneer Valley of Massachusetts.  The immediate market area, known as the Springfield Metropolitan Area, encompasses forty-three communities throughout Hampden and Hampshire Counties and covers approximately 1,200 square miles, a region roughly the size of Rhode Island.  Owned by the Department of Defense, the Westover Airport is managed under a joint-use agreement by Westover Metropolitan Development Corporation (WMDC), a non-profit industrial development corporation created in 1974 to oversee the Airport and undertake development of surplus land from the former Westover Air Force Base.

Westover Airport is conveniently centered within the local and regional transportation networks servicing the New England area. These multi-modal networks serve as an asset to Westover Airport, facilitating the efficient movement of both people and goods across the Northeast and enabling the airfield to capitalize on supply chain logistic capabilities that surrounding businesses deem advantageous.

Westover ARB is the nation’s largest Air Force Reserve base and is home to the Air Force’s largest cargo aircraft, the C-5 Galaxy.  More than 2,700 military and civilian workers are assigned to Westover’s 439th Airlift Wing, which operates and maintains the C-5 Galaxy cargo planes.  The day-to-day mission also includes recruiting, training, and supervision of personnel to assure mission readiness.  The Wing is responsible for the management of aircraft maintenance and all assigned Air Force combat support real property, equipment, and supplies.

Military Asset and Security Strategy Task Force and Westover ARB

In 2012, Governor Patrick approved the creation of the Military Asset and Security Strategy Task Force, spearheading one of the nation’s most comprehensive efforts to support a state’s military installations and their host communities, advancing initiatives in workforce training, transportation, veterans’ services, energy, and housing in partnership with municipalities, industry, and academia.  The six military installations in Massachusetts include Barnes Air National Guard Base in Westfield; Fort Devens; Hanscom Air Force Base; Joint Base Cape Cod; Natick Soldier Systems Center; and Westover Air Reserve Base in Chicopee.  According to a 2012 UMass Donahue Institute report, these installations account for an economic impact of $14.2 billion and more than 46,500 Massachusetts jobs.  At Westover, this same report found 5323 direct and indirect jobs and an annual economic impact of $393.67 million.  This report is currently being updated for release in 2015.

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The Commonwealth, through the Military Task Force, has already taken the initial steps to foster greater economic opportunities at Westover ARB.  Partnerships to date include supporting the Base’s master planning efforts and exploring the opportunities for shared services through the Air Force’s Public-Private-Partnership Tabletop Exercise program; domestic emergency management operations with FEMA and MEMA; and Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) education initiatives.  Earlier this week, Governor Patrick and the Military Task Force released a Clean Energy Assessment & Strategic Plan for Massachusetts Military Installations and allocated $930,000 to Westover to make critical upgrades and replacements to energy infrastructure across the installation; offered an electric vehicle charging station at or around Westover in support of the Commonwealth’s efforts to reduce vehicle-related fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions; and allocated $1,000,000 to the City of Chicopee, bringing in up to another $1,000,000 in City funding for the clearing and preparation of land for a solar field to be constructed outside of Westover Air Reserve Base that will reduce electricity costs at Westover and for Chicopee Electric Light’s other customers.

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In 2009, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation brought together the state’s various transportation agencies.  MassDOT, a key member of the Military Task Force, now includes the Highway Division, the MBTA and Rail Transit Division, the Aeronautics Division (which led the effort on this plan), and the Registry of Motor Vehicles.

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