HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP) – Growing the economy by growing pot. Holyoke is described by many as a city at a crossroads. The old paper mills that were the economic engine during Holyoke’s heyday, now sit in squalor. They are the target of taggers.
Mayor Alex Morse wants to put the abandoned mills back on the tax-roll. His plan is to turn them into marijuana cultivation facilities and dispensaries. He’s been talking with interested companies.
Located off of I-91, Holyoke is an appealing city for marijuana cultivators who are looking for three things. Lots of space, cheap water and cheap electricity. Holyoke has all of that.
“I think it’s a great idea. Hopefully it brings jobs to the city,” said Holyoke resident Brenda Figueroa.
However, not everyone is sold on the image of Holyoke as a hub of pot. “The mill has been abandoned for 20 years. 20 years you could have done apartments or a school in them. Why weed?” asked Marie Luna of Holyoke.
Mayor Morse told 22News he doesn’t view pot as the city’s saving grace. “We are growing Holyoke in multiple ways. We are growing Holyoke by supporting manufacturing and focusing on innovation and the creative economy. As I’ve said before, marijuana legalization and cultivation is just one piece of the pie,” remarked Mayor Morse.
The Mayor said Holyoke’s unemployment numbers are at a 16 year low and said this industry would add more good paying jobs to the economy.