COVID-19

In response to COVID-19, FRCOG offices are closed from March 24 – April 7.

Staff are working remotely.

Building, plumbing and wiring inspectors are responding to emergencies only.

All meetings, workshops and forums are cancelled or have been changed to a call-in or video format.  Please look for emails from FRCOG staff about specific meetings or on our calendar https://frcog.org/events/category/meetings-and-events/.

Email is likely the most efficient way to reach staff.  You can find our email addresses and other contact information here: https://frcog.org/about/staff/

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Resources for businesses impacted by COVID-19

For information about resources and guidance to support businesses and non-profit organizations impacted by COVID-19, click here for more information.

Also, a survey of Pioneer Valley businesses and organizations is underway. The data collected will be used to demonstrate the local economic impact of the COVID-19 crisis when advocating for state and federal resources now and in the coming weeks and months. If you have a business or non-profit organization, please complete this brief survey by March 31, 2020. Individual responses will be kept confidential.  Link to survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/PVBIZCOVID

 

2020 Census Preparations and QACs

The 2020 U.S. Census. It’s safe, easy, and important. And we need your help!

Please help spread the message that the 2020 Census is safe, easy, and important.  Talk to your friends and families. Post a message or video clip on social media. Hang a poster at your office or where people gather in your community. Check out our list of resources (including links to video clips, posters, FAQs, and more) at: https://frcog.org/publication/view/census-2020-preparation/.

From March 12 to March 20, every household will receive an invitation to complete the 2020 US Census. Responses can be submitted online, by telephone, by mail, or in-person by an official Census-taker. It is important that everyone is counted. This data is used to determine our political representation and how much federal and state funding comes to our region. It is estimated that if 3 out of every 100 people in Franklin County are not counted, we could lose up to $50 million in funding over a ten-year period. For more information, check out MIRA Coalition’s 2020 Census: Frequently Asked Questions or visit 2020census.gov.

HELP RESPONDING TO THE 2020 CENSUS

Given the current situation with COVID-19, most Questionnaire Assistance Centers (QACs) are not available currently or in the near term. Please contact the QAC directly to confirm their status and hours of operation.  Click here for the list of QACs in Franklin County as of March 12, 2020 at 3:30 pm (PDF, 497 kb)

However, there are other resources to helpfully guide people when responding to the 2020 Census questionnaire:

Video guide on how to respond online, available in 63 language options – https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLewV-zKXDZkiAT8Tp96NysEoq3dDEMi7L

Online guide on how to respond by phone, available in 17 language options – https://2020census.gov/en/ways-to-respond/responding-by-phone.html

 

 

 

Opportunity Zone Presentation on October 15

Great things are happening in Downtown Greenfield and Turners Falls. However, vacant storefronts and buildings in need of redevelopment remain. What can be done to create more dynamic and sustainable downtown economies? One tool that can be used is the new federal Opportunity Zone program, which seeks to drive private investment into downtowns in need of revitalization.

Earlier this year LOCUS and Smart Growth America selected the City of Greenfield and the Town of Montague to participate in their Massachusetts Opportunity Zone Academy. The Academy provides one-on-one expert technical assistance to Greenfield and Montague on advancing smart growth best practices and policies to revitalize the designated Opportunity Zones in their communities (i.e. areas of Downtown Greenfield and the Village of Turners Falls). Smart growth best practices and policies encourage sustainable, equitable and walkable development that create healthy communities and expand economic opportunity.

As part of this award, experts from LOCUS and Smart Growth America will host a public presentation about the Opportunity Zones program and how these communities can leverage their designation to attract private investment. The presentation will be held on Tuesday, October 15 at 6:00 pm -7:30 pm, John Zon Community Center, 35 Pleasant Street, Greenfield. Anyone interested in learning more is welcome to attend.

 

MA Rural Policy Plan Released

The MA Rural Policy Advisory Commission (RPAC) released its Rural Policy Plan for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts (PDF file, 30mb). The Plan identifies, highlights and offers policy recommendations related to the unique issues and challenges faced by rural Massachusetts.  The Plan provides a socioeconomic summary of rural Massachusetts and addresses 15 Focus Areas that were identified through listening sessions held across the state in late 2018. The goal of the Plan is to provide a thorough but succinct outline of each Focus Area that identifies the issues and highlights sub-regional differences, describes current related state policies and a best practices from Massachusetts or other parts of the country or the world, and provides prioritized recommendations.  Members of the RPAC and rural Regional Planning Agencies have shared in the effort to engage and solicit input from a large swath of stakeholders throughout Massachusetts through meetings and other efforts, and in sharing in the writing of the Plan.

Help prepare for the 2020 Census

Join us on June 5th for the Franklin County Complete Count Committee Kick-off!

Next year, the U.S. Census Bureau will seek to count all residents of Franklin County as part of the 2020 Census. This decennial census is different from past years. For example, households will be asked for the first time to respond online, as opposed to filling out a paper form and mailing it. This Census data will be used to determine legislative districts and how federal resources are distributed for years to come. We need to ensure that the 2020 Census counts everyone!

The Franklin Regional Council of Governments (FRCOG) is forming the Franklin County Complete Count Committee to develop strategies and form partnerships to best prepare Franklin County households. If you would like to be part of this effort, please join us on Wednesday, June 5 at 3:00 pm in the 1st floor meeting room of the JWO Transit Center at 12 Olive Street, Greenfield, MA or contact Jessica Atwood at jatwood@frcog.org. For additional information about the upcoming census, please check out the “Census 2020, Make Yourself Count” factsheet from the NALEO Educational Fund (www.naleo.org/census2020).

New CEDS Committee Forming

In the coming year, FRCOG will lead the creation of the 2020 Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) Plan for Franklin County. To correspond with the creation and implementation of this new five-year plan, a new CEDS Committee is forming.  The new Committee will have up to 19 members, with seats representing geographic areas, regional economic development entities and at-large participants. If you or someone you know may be a good candidate to be on the CEDS Committee, please contact Jessica Atwood at jatwood@frcog.org or call 413-774-3167 x123. Click here for a CEDS Committee member role description.

Draft 2019 CEDS Annual Report Available for Review

The DRAFT 2019 Greater Franklin County Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) Annual Report  (PDF, 3.9 mb) is available for public review and comment. Please submit comments by no later than Monday, June 10, 2019 via email to jatwood@frcog.org or by phone at 413-774-3167 x123.  This is the fourth and final update to the five-year Greater Franklin County 2015 CEDS Plan (PDF file, 1.8 mb).  The planning process will begin in summer 2019 to develop a new five-year plan to be published in June 2020.

New Labor Market Blueprint

As a member of the Pioneer Valley Regional Planning Core Team, FRCOG is partnering with the MassHire Franklin Hampshire Workforce Board and others to implement strategies of the Pioneer Valley Labor Market Blueprint. The Blueprint was developed to better align the work of economic development, workforce and education partners for the purpose of creating strong talent pipelines for our three-county region.

2018 CEDS Annual Report Available

The latest update to the 2015 Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) Plan, the 2018 CEDS Annual Report, has been approved and is available to view or download here.  Please contact Jessica Atwood, FRCOG Economic Development Program Manager at jatwood@frcog.org with any questions, comments, or a request for a hardcopy of the report.