PEDA Still Hopeful for Rail Project

By Joe DurwinPittsfield Correspondent
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PEDA is hoping that even if the state rail-car contract doesn't land in the Berkshires, there will still be a trickle-down effect.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — With bids due for an $800 million state train car construction contract next month, local economic development officials believe the Berkshires are still in the running as an option for the selected manufacturer's future location.
"We are cautiously optimistic that when it comes time for the RFPs to be submitted, that we still may have one company that's interested in doing this project in the Berkshires," Corydon Thurston, executive director of the Pittsfield Economic Development Authority, told its board of directors on Wednesday.
May 1 is the deadline for rail companies seeking the new contract to assemble cars for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority's Orange Line, an undertaking that under bid terms will be largely sited in Massachusetts, and could mean up to 250 new jobs over the next 10 years. The state Department of Transportation will make the determination and award a contract by December.
Outreach to prospective rail manufacturers about the William Stanley Business Park, including $2 million in incentives created for a company willing to site their facilities there, has been the primary focus of most of PEDA's marketing efforts in recent months.
Most recently, this included themed gift packages, including toy Orange Line train cars and boxes of chocolates sent to potential bidders with a reminder of Pittsfield's incentive schemes.
"We just want to stay in their face, and be a little cute with it," Thurston told the board.
A number of these companies had representatives visit the Berkshires to tour potential sites. While only one is believed to be moving forward with an interest in the Berkshires, Thurston said others had expressed their gratitude at Pittsfield officials' efforts to encourage them to either come here or to do business with relevant manufacturers located here.
Even if the primary assembly site does not land in the county, PEDA believes that trickle-down benefits will still be seen by area companies in the supply chain. There have been extensive efforts to connect the potential bidding companies to local businesses involved in manufacturing products that could be needed in the rail assembly project.
"We are fairly optimistic that there will be some positive results," said Thurston  "And, hopefully, some of these locals will get some business out it."
Mayor Daniel Bianchi said he has cultivated an awareness of Pittsfield's efforts to attract rail companies among both state and federal legislators.
"They're all very impressed," said Bianchi of U.S. Rep. Richard Neal and U.S. Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Edward Markey. "I think we've got a lot of people pulling for us."

Tags: MBTA,   PEDA,   rail,   

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