Governor Deval L. Patrick
Northampton Workforce Training Fund Grant Remarks
April 29, 2008
On Tuesday, April 29, 2008, Governor Patrick travelled to Northampton City Hall to announce the award of a Workforce Training Fund (WTF) grant to Amherst Woodworking and Supply, Inc. The grant totals $44,000 and will train 44 employees. These grants are part of a total of $18 million in funds that will go to 200 companies to train over 16,000 workers throughout the state, which were announced during the governor's major economic policy address at MIT's Sloan School of Business Management on April 9.
I want to say a couple of words about the economy, nationally and locally across the Commonwealth, and then some responses that we are trying to develop in the - together with the legislature.
I think everyone knows that the national economy is softening. We see that in unemployment rates going up nationally. We see that in the turmoil or tumult in the financial markets; we see it at a whole host of levels.
People are anxious. I will say that Massachusetts on the whole is holding its own. Our unemployment rate is actually lower than the national unemployment rate and has been for ten straight months. In fact it's lower right now than it was this time last year. In the last four months while the national economy was losing employment we were actually gaining jobs in here the Commonwealth, which is good news.
Our revenues at the state level still run ahead of bench mark. All of that is good news, but frankly if you are the one who's house has been foreclosed upon or whose job has just been cut out from under you or if your business is the one who's sales are falling through the floor our relative strength compared to national trends is of little comfort. So we have, together with the legislature, developed some strategies that we think can help get us through this current anxiety about the economy but also position us for long term growth and it has four components.
The first is to restrain discretionary spending at the second level. The second has to do with investing aggressively in our infrastructure and in our people. The third has to do with some strategies to position us for long term growth, and the fourth has to do with assuring that the safety net is intact for vulnerable people and also for vulnerable small businesses.
There are a number of steps that we have taken in this regard, and I just want to focus on a couple of them. First of all particularly in terms of investing in our infrastructure.
We have with the help of the legislature a number of bond bills pending in the legislature all of which will pass out before the end of the current legislative session. They are build on a five-year capital spending plan -- the first transparent plan of the its kind in Massachusetts, something we built a year ago, did an affordability analysis of, and then took to Wall Street to the bond rating agencies to get their buy in and support and we have their buy in and support.
Those bond bills in the aggregate will enable us to makes an approximately $16 billion investment in our Massachusetts infrastructure: in roads, in bridges, in public colleges and community colleges and state colleges, in housing -- both affordable and public housing -- in our ability to acquire open space and maintain parks and other recreational facilities that we have.
Growth districts is another strategy that we've been looking at. How we create regional economic hubs, where we can drive some planning, we can drive some initial infrastructure investment and we can encourage and really use as sales opportunities for the development of regional economies.
Because we know that the solutions in Provincetown are not necessarily going to be the same as the solutions that make sense for Pittsfield and lots of pieces in between. I'm very proud a part of this is assuring that we are building human capacity for the jobs that are available and the ones that will become available.
There's some $18 million in workforce development grants that the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development will award over the next 60 days. And I'm proud to join with our partners at Amherst Wood Working and Supply who are here today… David is here - where are you David? … in announcing a $44 thousand Workforce Training Fund Grant to train 44 workers in what's called the "lean manufacturing practice."
We're glad to be working with them and strengthening our workforce and opening opportunities in Northampton and in the Commonwealth. And David I know you will make wise use of these funds and we are looking forward to working with you. [David: Thank you, Governor.] You're welcome, you're very welcome.
I also want to just mention some other ways in which we are partnering specifically with Northampton. One of the things we have been glad and happy and proud to be working partnership on in Northampton is an energy audit program. Energy cost is a serious concern for individuals and for businesses all over the Commonwealth. We have some of the highest energy costs in the country.
We have some strategies and some rebate and discount programs that we've developed and here in Northampton the city has submitted some 16 buildings to be reviewed for potential cuts in energy costs and emissions reductions. We have recommended or will soon recommend a range of energy conservation measures like lighting upgrades, programmable thermostats, air sealing and installation as well as several no capital energy conservation strategies.
We've initiated similar interactions with businesses as well. Secretary Bowles has mobilized what we're calling an "Energy SWAT team" called the "Commonwealth Energy Resource Teams" to assist companies who are struggling with high energy costs and to give them recommendations as well as strategies on how to pay for some of those upgrades.
We're working on extensions and improvements to bike and pedestrian trails including the Manhan Rail Trail and the Norwottuck Trail, some of which are in progress, did I say it right? Some of which are in progress and others are slated to begin very, very shortly. We've invested $75 thousand in a small business technical assistance grant for the Valley Community Development Corporation, and I'm very pleased to be working with the three county fair grounds we're taking part in the Mass. Agricultural Fair Improvement Program.
They've received technical assistance already and are in line to receive direct funding to help develop a year round facility over time. And I know that's a project and interest the fair ground has been working with the chamber on for a very long time now and we look forward to helping you bring that over the finish line.
And finally, I am glad to announce the Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism has ads featuring downtown Northampton and encouraging visitors to come here because we know that is a part of strengthening the local economy; those adds begin to air on May 11. So, tune in. I can say that, cant I? I don't mean to leave out the print media here, but tune in, the ads are on the air.
We are pleased, all of us, my team is pleased to partner in a whole host of ways with the enlightened leadership of Northampton and the businesses in this area and in this region.
We know as I said a minute ago that the solutions are not the same all across the Commonwealth, but solutions we will find and we will find them together. And I'm delighted to be here with all of you here today and particularly we our partners gathered around the podium.
Thank you very much.