"We're pumped up about this," said PEDA Executive Director Corydon Thurston at a meeting of its board on Tuesday.
As part of a long-awaited transportation project, the state will spend upward of $800 million on more than 200 new cars
for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority's Orange and Red lines, with the stipulation that their manufacture take place within the state.
The contract promises around 250 jobs over 10 years and could lead to more permanent rail car manufacturing beyond that.
With the help of a $1 million incentive, PEDA hopes to attract companies eyeing this bid to build in Pittsfield, potentially on a lot at its William Stanley Business Park.
"We're going to make an all-out push to attract one of these companies to Berkshire County," Thurston told the board, indicating he has already presented marketing materials to five major international prospects for the contract.
Thurston noted that of four sites already identified in Berkshire County as potentially fertile for this use, the one in Pittsfield consists of a pre-existing three-acre slab that might entice the company receiving the contract to set up shop there for this time-sensitive job, production for which is expected to start by early 2015.
To further sweeten the pot, the board's Executive Committee advanced a proposal, which the board voted unanimously to approve Monday, to authorize the million-dollar incentive out of PEDA's remaining resources to help secure this manufacturing.
"It's a no-brainer, because we don't give up the money unless they build here," said Thurston. "But it could make the difference between winning or not."
"This is exactly what we're here for," agreed Board Chairman Maurice Callahan, who praised the speed at which PEDA has worked to focus on this endeavor in just over a month since Gov. Deval Patrick announced the project going forward.
The MBTA is planning to buy 74 Red Line cars, with an option to increase the number to 132, and 152 cars for the Orange Line.
While PEDA and city government are specifically angling to site the production in Pittsfield, potentially on a lot of the business park that offers rail access that would potentially serve the manufacturer's needs, it is also working with the 1Berkshire economic collaborative to re-tool existing "Build in the Berkshires" marketing to help ensure that the jobs will land somewhere within the county.
The economic development agencies hope add to the list of potential sites that include two in Lee and one in Dalton.
"If we can't do it in Pittsfield," said Mayor Daniel Bianchi, who served on the PEDA board. "This could still have tremendous benefits for the city of Pittsfield from being able to locate something like this in the Berkshires."
"We've said for years now that we're much stronger as a community of 130,000 in Berkshire County than we are as just the 45,000 people in Pittsfield," he added. "If we don't have the exact perfect fit here in Pittsfield, we need to look at what's the next best thing."
"We're all pretty convinced that this is the best site for rail car assembly to happen in Massachusetts, the challenge is getting various companies to understand that," said board member Douglas Crane of the combined marketing effort along with the monetary incentive, "It's pulling together these pieces ... and then backing that up with 'Here's some support if you want to build at this particular site.' "