WESTFIELD NEWS: Input sought for hilltown economic development

17 Nov 2016

By Amy Porter

HUNTINGTON – The Hilltown Collaborative, the group that was awarded a Community Compact grant to help the six Gateway hilltowns work together on economic development and resource sharing, is sponsoring an Open House on Tuesday, November 29 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. in Stanton Hall.

Hilltown residents, businesses and other stakeholders are invited to come for a few minutes or a few hours and share their ideas on interactive boards prepared by Elan Planning and Design, the firm that is working with the Hilltown Collaborative on economic strategy. Members of the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission (PVPC), which is working on the resource sharing piece, will also be present.

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Pat Beaudry and Josh Garcia of the PVPC also spoke at the meeting about looking into grants to hire an economic development person for the region, and potentially partnering in that effort with the Hilltown Community Development Corporation. Garcia said there is an opportunity in the form of a municipal economic efficiencies grant coming up in the next few months.

Andy Myers of Chester, who chairs the Hilltown Collaborative, said he thought they should move full steam ahead on that plan.
“If the towns are successful in doing that, there is a next step,” Myers said. “The fact that we would have an implementation plan is huge. How many studies do we have on the shelves gathering dust?”

“You need somebody to do it,” Garcia said.

The public will be asked to post their ideas on how to strengthen and showcase the natural resources and recreational opportunities in the towns, which include Russell, Blandford, Montgomery, Huntington, Chester and Middlefield. They will also be asked to post what they believe are the greatest historical and cultural assets in the area, and also their ideas for businesses they believe would be successful or are needed in their communities.

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