In Western Massachusetts and the Pioneer Valley, businesses are at the center of the Northeast's major markets while operating at lower costs, accessing one of the nation's leading skilled workforces and enjoying an affordable, high standard of living within urban, suburban, rural or college town settings. Nationally famous tourist destinations, vast natural resources and world-class healthcare also add to the region's attractiveness, particularly for families.
Cities and Towns in Pioneer Valley Region
Agawam, Amherst, Ashfield, Belchertown, Bernardston, Blandford, Brimfield, Buckland, Charlemont, Chester, Chesterfield, Chicopee, Colrain, Conway, Cummington, Deerfield, East, Longmeadow, Easthampton, Erving, Gill, Goshen, Granby, Granville, Greenfield, Hadley, Hamden, Hatfield, Hawley, Heath, Holland, Holyoke, Huntington, Leverett, Leyden, Longmeadow, Ludlow, Middlefield, Monroe, Monson, Montague, Montgomery, New Salem, Northhampton, Northfield, Orange, Palmer, Pelham, Plainfield, Rowe, Russell, Shelburne, Shutesbury, South Hadley, Southhampton, Southwick, Springfield, Sunderland, Tolland, Wales, Ware, Warwick, Wendell, West Springfield, Westfield, Westhampton, Whately, Wilbraham, Williamsburg, Worthington
Doing business in the Pioneer Valley has clear advantages:
- lower operating costs (including wages 10-20% below Boston and other Northeastern cities),
- real estate priced at one-third less than the state-wide average,
- competitive utility rates.
Healthcare and social services lead the region's industries with 15 percent of the total workforce. Baystate Health, the second largest hospital system in the Commonwealth, is the biggest employer among the area's major medical and life science facilities.
Manufacturing is the second major cluster and has a rich history of being the region's economic driving force. Although it continues to thrive, the industry's focus, particularly within precision machining for aerospace, is shifting to include other specialties such as medical devices.
Educational and retail services, along with tourism and financial services, round out the most prevalent industry clusters.
Education and Training
The Hartford-Springfield region known as the "Knowledge Corridor" is a national hub for higher education with more than 110,000 annual students within 26 colleges and universities, including some of the nation's most prestigious private schools. Among these is the five-college consortium which includes the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, as well as Amherst, Hampshire, Mount Holyoke and Smith Colleges.
Many specialized training programs and area trade schools exist to support and enhance the region's major industry clusters by offering advanced programs in the fields of manufacturing, precision machining, health care, information technology, life sciences, medical devices, financial services, biotechnology and renewable energy.
The University of Massachusetts-Amherst is one of the nation's leading research institutions with more than $100 million in externally sponsored research annually. Baystate Health collaborated with UMass in 2003 to jointly found the Pioneer Valley Life Sciences Institute in Springfield. This facility houses research focused in the areas of breast cancer, diabetes, metabolic disorders and apostasies research. Space is also leased to biomedical research companies.
Infrastructure and Permitting
Western Massachusetts is situated at the crossroads of two of the nation's major north-south and east-west routes, the Massachusetts Turnpike (I-90) and Interstate 91. This region is within 30 minutes of Hartford, Connecticut, 90 minutes of Boston, 60 minutes of Albany and three hours of Manhattan.
Bradley International Airport offers daily non-stop service to destinations around the nation and the globe including the newly launched daily flight to Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport, a major European hub. Westover Metropolitan airport has long been known for the second largest runway on the East Coast and extensive private use but now additionally offers daily commercial service through SkyBus Airlines. Amtrak service and exceptional freight capabilities are also features of the region.
Business and industrial parks across the region have both high speed data and basic utilities installed to the property lines, all with appropriate zoning and expedited permitting.
The following communities that promote expedited permitting and/or have Chapter 43D designated Priority Development Sites include:
- East Longmeadow
Quality of Life
The 2010 census bureau population for the Hampden, Hampshire and Franklin counties was revised. According to Franklin County Census 2010 results, the population of the area was approximately 71,372 people. From 2000 to 2010, the Franklin County population growth percentage was -0.2% (or from 71,535 people to 71,372 people). 19.7% of the Franklin County residents were under 18 years of age. According to Hampden County Census 2010 results, the population of the area was approximately 463,490 people. From 2000 to 2010, the Hampden County population growth percentage was 1.6% (or from 456,228 people to 463,490 people). 23.7% of the Hampden County residents were under 18 years of age. According to Hampshire County Census 2010 results, the population of the area was approximately 158,080 people. From 2000 to 2010, the Hampshire County population growth percentage was 3.8% (or from 152,251 people to 158,080 people). 16.9% of the Hampshire County residents were under 18 years of age
The local housing market's affordable prices and diverse communities are very appealing to a variety of populations, particularly families who are also drawn to the area's rich culture and surplus of attractions. While still offering the convenience of major metropolitan areas, Western Massachusetts also contains an abundance of natural resources and popular outdoor recreation destinations that harness these assets.
Area tourism includes nationally-known attractions such as the Eastern States Exposition, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, Six Flags of New England, the Yankee Candle Company, the National Volleyball Hall of Fame, Bright Nights at Forest Park, Downtown Northampton, the Holyoke Mall, the Holyoke St. Patrick's Day Parade, the Dr. Suess Memorial Sculpture Garden, Springfield Museums, the Connecticut River, City Stage, Springfield Symphony Hall, Historic Deerfield, the Magic Wings Butterfly Consortium and the Springfield Armory National Historic site.
Research and Data
- Associated Chambers of Commerce of Greater Springfield
- Economic Development Council of Western Massachusetts
- Franklin Hampshire Regional Employment Board
- Franklin County Chamber of Commerce
- Franklin County Community Development Corporation
- Greater Springfield Convention and Visitors Bureau
- Regional Employment Board of Hampden County Inc.
- Regional Technology Corporation
- Springfield Business Improvement District
- Westfield Business Improvement District
- Westover Metropolitan Development Corporation
- Westmass Area Development Corporation
Mike Vedovelli, Senior Regional Director
Massachusetts Office of Business Development
1350 Main Street, Suite 1110
Springfield, MA 01103