PITTSFIELD -- A former Dalton industrial facility so far has generated the most interest among three Berkshire County sites being pitched as potential homes for a railway car assembly facility.
Local business leaders met with companies this week to gauge their interest in setting up shop in the Berkshires, and the former Beloit-Jones facility at Ashuelot Park in Dalton seemed to have an edge over a vacant Pittsfield site because it already has a structure, Pittsfield Economic Development Authority Executive Director Cory Thurston said on Wednesday.
"It’s only because there’s a very tight time frame on this and everybody wants to see what facilities are available as opposed to new construction," said Thurston, a member of the group of business leaders that are pitching the county sites. "New construction is costly."
The other county sites are the former Schweitzer-Maudit Greylock Mill in Lee, and the William Stanley Business Park of the Berkshires in Pittsfield, which is managed by PEDA. A company would be required to build a new facility to locate at the Stanley Business Park, and PEDA has offered a $1 million incentive to help defray those costs.
Local business leaders are interested in a $1.3 billion proposal to build 152 new railway cars for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority’s Red and Orange lines. The contract stipulates that the final assembly of those cars must take place somewhere in Massachusetts. The MBTA is expected to award the contract this winter, but the work isn’t expected to begin until 2015.
The proposal, endorsed by Berkshire County’s state legislative contingent, could bring between 200 and 250 jobs to the county depending on the amount of final assembly work that would need to be done.
Thurston said he and 1Berkshire Economic Development specialist David Curtis met with representatives of the Siemens railway car manufacturing company, and two site selectors representing one of the two Chinese railway car manufacturers that is expected to bid on the project.
"They were very interested in the Dalton facility," Thurston said, referring to Siemens, "and they think it’s possible that new construction on the PEDA site with the incentive we’re offering is a very real possibility."
The site selectors for the Chinese company also visited Ashuelot Park, Thurston said. They visited the Greylock Mill but didn’t go inside.
Last week, Curtis said the Berkshire business leaders expected to speak with at least seven railway car companies that plan to bid on the proposal.
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