Pittsfield Officials Optimistic After Manufacturer Visits

By Joe DurwinPittsfield Correspondent
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PEDA members say several potential rail-car manufacturers have toured sites in Pittsfield.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — About half the prospective bidders for a lucrative MBTA rail-car construction contract have toured local sites in seeking a base for potential operations, and growing confidence was expressed at a meeting of the Pittsfield Economic Development Authority.
In addition to the possibility of locating the site of a new subway car assembly plant, which under terms of the bid will necessitate a new facility built somewhere in Massachusetts, economic development officials say the MBTA contract is likely to yield a trickle down of benefits to existing local industry even if the final assembly jobs don't land here.
PEDA board member Douglas Crane on Wednesday reported favorable feedback thus far from potential companies, including one in town this week he described as one of the largest rail car manufacturers in the world. 
"What I heard from them is that our group here is hands down out in front of the rest of the communities in Massachusetts in being proactive and helpful to them," said Crane. "In fact they said they've never seen anything like it, and they were very impressed."
Four of the eight or nine companies expected to bid for the state job have toured sites including the William Stanley Business Park that PEDA oversees, and all but two have engaged in discussions with PEDA at some level.
"One of the things they really appreciated was our outreach to manufacturers in the community here," said Crane, referring to recent networking efforts by PEDA and 1Berkshire to engage with area businesses that could potentially provide supplies or services to a rail car manufacturer for this project. "No other community is doing that."
Additionally sweetening the pot is $2 million in incentive funding to build at William Stanley, half from PEDA, and another million approved Tuesday night by the City Council from remaining Pittsfield Economic Development Fund left by General Electric following its Consent Decree with the city. 
PEDA Executive Director Corydon Thurston said a side aspect of current marketing efforts is outreach to other companies that manufacture related parts and products that may be looking for sites in Massachusetts in order to be closer to wherever the eventual final production takes place.  
"So we're not only reaching out to those that might bid on the big job, we're now marketing to everybody that we've identified as part of the supply chain that has taken an interest in this contract," Thurston told the board.
The city's economic disadvantages may also improve its chances of being a site for a successful bid, according to Mayor Daniel Bianchi.
"They will recognize or weigh what the impact will be on the local economy," said Bianchi of the state transportation officials evaluating bids. "Since our unemployment numbers are a little bit higher here in Berkshire County, that's going to weigh to our advantage."
"We also have recognition from state officials that we're working diligently and in unison on this," added Bianchi, who said that he is committed to working with Berkshire delegates to the Legislature to keep Boston decision makers aware of these efforts.


Tags: manufacturing,   PEDA,   rail,   

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