Gov. Patrick in Holyoke: “We’re Inventing Our Own Future”

HOLYOKE — Governor Deval Patrick said Tuesday that Massachusetts shouldn’t sit back and wait for conditions to improve, but make bold moves now to create the 21st-century economy.

Mass. Governor Deval Patrick said that Massachusetts can lead the nation by investing in infrastructure and thinking big. (Mary Serreze photo)

“We have to be about building our own future — inventing our own destiny — not sitting around waiting and whining about how tough it is!” proclaimed the governor.

Patrick’s remarks were made at the site of the Massachusetts Green High Performance Computing Center (MGHPCC) in Holyoke’s canal district, where completion of the building’s steel frame was being celebrated by construction workers, government officials, business leaders, and academics.

The crowd of about 200 regional movers and shakers watched as union iron workers placed the final 800-pound beam in place at the top of the building in a traditional “topping off” ceremony. A massive crane lifted the beam, topped by an evergreen tree, through the air, as patriotic music played through the public address system.

Speakers included Lt. Governor Tim Murray, U.S. Congressman Richard Neal, State Sen. Michael Knapik, State Rep. Michael Kane, Boston University President Dr. Robert Brown, and outgoing Holyoke Mayor Elaine Pluta.

Mayor-elect Alex Morse, 22, was among the crowd, mixing it up with visiting dignitaries.

Construction workers in fluorescent vests contrasted with top state officials in crisp suits at Tuesday's event.

The $168 million, 90,000 square-foot computing center is a collaboration between five universities, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and computer giants EMC Corp. and Cisco Systems. The electricity-intensive project, slated to open in about a year’s time, will make use of Holyoke’s cheap and abundant hydropower.

The center itself will only employ about 25 people, and as a non-profit, will be exempt from paying property taxes.

But the presence of the center in Holyoke, a post-industrial city with a 28% poverty rate, is expected to attract new high-tech investment in the region.

Patrick said that the city and the commonwealth’s investment in infrastructure — “the unglamorous work of government” — will pay off in the long run.

And the core needs of the computing center — electricity and bandwidth — are already in place.

A high-bandwidth fiber optic connection will provide Boston University, Harvard, Northeastern, MIT, and the University of Massachusetts with remote access to the center for intensive computing applications and research.

And the center will use up to 10 megawatts of electricity generated by turbines in the city’s canals. Last summer Holyoke Gas and Electric received a $2.1 million federal grant to improve the city’s hydro-electric infrastructure, a step deemed necessary to attract and support high-tech enterprises.

The governor seemed excited and upbeat as he addressed the crowd.

“Your commonwealth is growing jobs faster than 44 other states. Our unemployment rate is well below the national average and going down. We’ve moved from the bottom third of best states to do business with to sixth in the nation, and are on the way to first,” said Patrick. “We’re inventing our own future.”

© Northampton Media

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