Sunday, April 17, 2016

Sunday Globe Special: Skateboarding Through Holyoke

"Skateboard park brightens hard-pressed Holyoke" by Brian MacQuarrie Globe Staff  April 09, 2016

HOLYOKE — It’s an incremental step toward better times for Holyoke, whose once-bustling mills made it a global colossus in the paper industry. In recent decades, poverty and crime have hammered this city of 40,000, and the opioid crisis has been particularly severe.

“You need to make investments in neighborhoods like this in particular,” said third-term Mayor Alex Morse. “It’s just a matter of priorities.”

The Holyoke Skate Park “saved a bunch of [kids] because, finally, the stars aligned, and we were able to get things done.” 


That's what woke me up.

"5 cities receive grant to fund all-day preschool" by Sarah Roberts Globe Correspondent  September 15, 2015

A new federally funded early education program will allow five large cities in Massachusetts to open all-day preschool classrooms.

The money will fund the Massachusetts Preschool Expansion Grant program, which will bring together local public schools with community-based early educations programs. The cities will receive a combined total of more than $14 million this year to set up 45 new classrooms, according to a statement from the state Department of Early Education and Care.

“I am pleased to help welcome students to the new school year and highlight the expansion of the diverse early education and care system through this new pilot,” Governor Charlie Baker said in the statement. “The goal is to ensure that more children have access to the educational resources they need to put them on an early path to success, and achieve proficiency in reading by the end of the third grade.”

The federal award will provide a yearlong, full-day preschool education to 78 children in Holyoke, where Baker visited one of the new classrooms on Tuesday.

See6 schools receive $4 million in grants

New classrooms will also be established in Boston, Lawrence, Lowell, and Springfield, providing programming to 780 more children, the education department said.

In Holyoke, the Preschool Expansion Grant has allowed Holyoke Public Schools to partner with the Valley Opportunity Council and Holyoke-Chicopee-Springfield Head Start to open new preschool classrooms that will run from eight to 10 hours a day in four of their schools, the statement said.

The 45 new classrooms will operate on a full-day schedule throughout the school year. Classes will be small with about 10 children for every teacher. Attendance will be free to families whose income is no more than twice the federal poverty line, according to the education department.

Beginning this year, Massachusetts could receive up to $60 million over a four-year period from the federal Preschool Expansion Grant program to fund the preschool classrooms.


Oh, I forgot. No school today.

"Holyoke aims for long-term revival" by Sean Teehan Globe Correspondent  April 01, 2016

HOLYOKE — The efforts to revive Holyoke have a long way to go. Abandoned buildings still litter the fledgling Innovation District around the supercomputer center. And the facility just doesn’t provide the same level of economic boost expected from the $950 million MGM casino-hotel project being built in Springfield, eight miles down Interstate 91.

Holyoke is among the Commonwealth’s poorest communities, with almost a third of its 39,000 residents living below the poverty line in 2014, nearly three times the state rate, according to the US Census Bureau, but progress is being made, and supercomputers were the spark....

What more do you need to know?


It's sister city:

"After decades of stagnation, signs of life in Springfield" by Theresa Sullivan Barger Globe Correspondent  April 01, 2016

SPRINGFIELD — Still, Springfield remains one of New England’s poorest cities, with a median household income of $35,000 and more than 30 percent of its residents living in poverty, according to the US Census Bureau. Only about 67 percent of its students graduate from high school, and only 37 percent of its third graders read at grade level, according to the state Department of Education.

Springfield’s unemployment rate in January was 6 percent, compared with 4.7 percent statewide, according to the US Department of Labor. Although that figure doesn’t capture the underemployed and those who stopped looking for work, it’s an improvement from more than 10 percent in 2010.

“Some investments are coming in that give reason for hope for the economy,” said Prabal Chakrabarti, senior vice president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston. However, there’s a low labor-force participation rate among Springfield’s 154,000 residents. “You see a low rate in good times and in bad. You see barriers because of lack of education, language, and other workplace skills,” Chakrabarti said. “This is going to take a multigenerational solution.” 

For a multigenerational problem brought on by the likes of people like him.

Workforce groups, public schools, community colleges and businesses are working to try to provide the technical and soft skills that unemployed people need to get and keep jobs. Employers uniformly say their biggest challenge is the skills gap between the unemployed and the available jobs, said Rick Sullivan, chief executive officer of the Economic Development Council of Western Massachusetts. The groups addressing this problem recognize that this population faces several challenges, including insufficient public transportation and lack of affordable child care.

And the flood of immigrants working two or three jobs, etc, but whatever.

“Most of the people that live in Springfield have been so negative for so many years. You have to be an outsider like myself to have the long view of it. If I sold today, they would be worth two or three times what I bought them for,” said Glenn H. Edwards, founder of a commercial real estate investment firm based in Lynbrook, N.Y., who bought eight buildings at market rate on Main Street in Springfield’s central business district and invested more than $1 million to upgrade his buildings in the past year....

I'm glad someone is making out well.


Yup, craft breweries are the answer to any economic woes!