Gov. Baker set to attend Berkshire Innovation Center announcement Friday

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PITTSFIELD If Gov. Charlie Baker and several top aides plan to travel to the Berkshires barely a day after a major winter storm, it must for be something big.

How about an announcement involving the Berkshire Innovation Center?

Baker will be joined by Lt. Gov. Karen Polito, Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Jay Ash, U.S. Rep. Richard E. Neal, D-Springfield, and several other state and local officials for the announcement at 10:30 a.m. Friday in Pittsfield City Hall.

The governor's office has not released details of the announcement, and local officials have declined to comment publicly. But the event comes just over a week after the Pittsfield Economic Development Authority approved an additional $300,000 toward the center's operating costs, which officials say is the final piece in the funding puzzle for the $12 million workforce training center. PEDA is the quasi-public agency charged with development of the 52-acre William Stanley Business Park.

The event was originally scheduled to take place at the corner of Woodlawn Avenue and East Street, near the site of the center, but the location was changed on Wednesday. The governor's office said the visit is still on, despite the storm that was expected to drop a foot or more of snow on the Berkshires by midday Thursday.

The center's board has spent the last two years seeking additional funding to finally begin construction of the 20,000-square-foot structure, which is considered key to the business park's development. Construction was supposed to begin in 2015, but was delayed in 2014 when bids revealed a $3 million funding gap.

The Massachusetts Life Sciences Center, which had pledged the initial $9.7 million for construction of the Berkshire Innovation Center, agreed in December to provide an additional $2.3 million for the project if PEDA would contribute an additional $750,000 toward operating costs, according to board Chairman Stephen Boyd. The center also has received $450,000 from MassDevelopment.

And last fall, the city of Pittsfield approved a $1 million allocation from the city's economic development fund to help jumpstart the project.

Also scheduled to attend Friday's event are Pittsfield Mayor Linda M. Tyer, state Sen. Adam Hinds, D-Pittsfield, state Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier, D-Pittsfield, PEDA board Chairman Maurice Callahan, and Boyd.

Travis McCready, president and CEO of the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center, MassDevelopment President Lauren Liss, and Tim Connelly, the director of the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, also are expected to be on hand.

Business Editor Tony Dobrowolski can be reached at tdobrowolski@berkshireeagle.com or at 413-496-6224.


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