Governor Deval Patrick today announced a series of infrastructure, cultural and open space investments that will expand growth and opportunity across the Berkshires. During an event at the Norman Rockwell Museum this morning, the Governor announced a three-fold increase, from $5 million to $15 million, in funding to further the development of cultural facilities throughout the state. The Governor also spoke before the Berkshire Chamber of Commerce this afternoon, where he announced capital funding to finish improvements to the First Street Common in downtown Pittsfield and a MassWorks award for the next phase of the Pittsfield Downtown Streetscape Master Plan that will revitalize the downtown area.
"Growth requires investment, and investing in our education infrastructure and creating more green space will bring opportunity to the residents of the Berkshires," said Governor Patrick. "If we want to expand opportunity in our Commonwealth, this is what government must do and do well."
The Cultural Facilities Fund was established in 2006 to increase investments from both the public and private sector in cultural facilities across Massachusetts. The Fund, which is administered by MassDevelopment and the Massachusetts Cultural Council, provides Capital Grants to promote the acquisition, design, repair, rehabilitation, renovation, expansion or construction of nonprofit cultural facilities in the state, and all grants from the Fund must be matched with cash contributions from the private or public sector. Today's announcement of an additional $10 million in funding for the MCC will help expand the work of the MCC to increase opportunities for communities across the state to enjoy existing cultural sites and unlock potential for new projects. Since 2007, CFF has awarded nearly 400 grants to 269 cultural organizations and communities throughout the Commonwealth. According to a recent survey conducted by the MCC in November 2012, CFF grantees reported that cultural facilities supported by the MCC have seen 20.8 million visitors; supported 9,057 full-time jobs and $551 million in wages and salaries; employed 14,808 architects, engineers, contractors and construction workers working on CFF projects; and created an estimated 1,413 new permanent jobs as a result of CFF projects.
"We remain committed to working with local communities, like Pittsfield, to help identify opportunities to maximize growth and spur regional development," said Housing and Economic Development Secretary Greg Bialecki. "I look forward to our ongoing partnership with city officials and private industry leaders to explore additional ways to promote continued growth throughout the community and region."
Today's announcement of $1.7 million to complete improvements to First Street Common in Pittsfield will improve the park's landscaping, lighting and fencing, and will help construct several new items including a new performance pavilion, a spray ground and a multi-purpose court. The First Street Common is the only large, accessible public open space that serves the Morningside neighborhood of Pittsfield, and the completion of this project will help create a stronger connection between the downtown community and the surrounding neighborhoods.
"We are thrilled to be able to finish improvements to Pittsfield's largest downtown recreational park," said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Rick Sullivan. "These improvements will make the park more accessible and more attractive, and provide a vibrant green space for people to enjoy in the heart of the city."
Governor Patrick also announced a $2 million MassWorks grant for Phase 3 of the Streetscape Improvement Project, which began in 2005 and is serving as a catalyst for the redevelopment of the City's downtown area. This MassWorks grant complements $13 million in additional state, local and federal dollars spent in the area for revitalization purposes. In 2011, Pittsfield also received a $3.6 million MassWorks grant for improvements and repair to the McKay Street Garage in downtown Pittsfield.
"Arts, culture and creativity means jobs in Berkshire County and this investment shows that yet again, Governor Patrick understands that," said Senator Benjamin Downing. "These investments will support cultural facilities and programs that help make the Berkshires such a special place to work, live and visit."
"Massachusetts has one of the largest concentrations of cultural treasures in the country," said Representative Cory Atkins, House Chair of the Joint Committee on Tourism, Arts, and Cultural Development. "Not only do our cultural institutions add to our artistic enjoyment, but they create jobs on main street that benefit people every day. Today's investment is not only timely but critical if we are to be active stewards of our cultural and historic heritage."
"This is another example of how Team Pittsfield can get things done," said Representative Tricia Farley-Bouvier. "When local and state officials work together on infrastructure, open space and the creative economy means, Pittsfield and the Berkshires will continue to move forward in creating a great place for businesses and families to thrive."
"I applaud the Governor for his ongoing commitment to investing in the Berkshires," said Representative Paul Mark. "Today's announcements will mean increased growth for the creative economy and continuing revitalization for downtown Pittsfield"
"Since 2007 the Cultural Facilities Fund has supported vital capital projects in every corner of the Commonwealth that improve access to the state's extraordinary cultural riches and create thousands of jobs," said MCC Executive Director Anita Walker. "This increase will greatly expand the phenomenal work being done across Massachusetts to keep the sector thriving and ensure the longevity of the Commonwealth's cultural heritage."
"The Cultural Facilities Fund is a proven jobs-creator and revenue-generator," said MassDevelopment President and CEO Marty Jones. "We appreciate the vote of confidence that this infusion of resources represents and look forward to working with our partners in the Patrick Administration, the Legislature, and the Cultural Council to insure that this important program continues to produce results."
Tuesday's announcements are part of a series of events the Governor is holding throughout the Fall to demonstrate the types of investments his Administration is making in every region of the Commonwealth to expand growth and opportunity to all of our residents.