Through utilization of a state Community Compact grant, the six towns of the Gateway Regional School District have formed the Hilltown Collaborative, which will be looking for ways the towns can share financial services and stimulate town economies. Pitching in are state agencies MassDevelopment and the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission (PVPC), and a private firm, Elan, a planning and design company based in Saratoga Springs, New York.
Community Compact grants of up to $20,000 per municipality are available from the governor’s office for a wide range of improvements, which include, among other things, education, energy and environment, housing and economic development, and regionalization and shared services. The six towns could have collected up to $120,000 among them, but the grants are highly competitive, the money is limited, and currently the governor’s office has approved $40,000.
A few weeks ago representatives from MassDevelopment, PVPC and Elan toured the region with representatives of the Hilltown Collaborative to get a feel for the challenges the towns face and the opportunities for improvement to their economic prospects.