Congressman Neal, local lawmakers look to help rural towns

Nearly half of all rural towns are located in western Massachusetts

GREENFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Congressman Richard Neal met with Franklin Regional Council of Governments leaders on Tuesday to come up with strategies to better support rural towns.

Their meeting at the Transit Center in Greenfield was focused on addressing a study of the state’s rural towns. There are 170 rural towns in the state, 84 of which are in western Massachusetts.

Issues that came out of the study include a declining and aging population, deteriorating infrastructure, as well as a lack of internet access and transportation services in rural areas.

“It’s a very beautiful part of the state,” Congressman Neal told 22News. “But at the same time if it loses population, and if you end up with a seasonal economy, then the question becomes can you still sustain the same number of services.”

Neal told 22News that there is broad agreement to expand internet service and improve transportation across the western part of the state.