Economic Development Planning

An important focus of FRCOG is to support key strategies, programs and projects that strengthen our regional economy and encourage economic opportunity for all. This work includes CEDS, Brownfields, and broadband efforts. To that end, FRCOG works with federal, state, regional and local partners to assess economic development needs and issues, and support those initiatives that offer employment opportunities and investment in our communities.

Current Projects

Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) Program

Funded in part by a grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA), the Greater Franklin County CEDS Program allows FRCOG staff to support local projects and regional initiatives.

  • The DRAFT 2019 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.
  • 2018 CEDS Annual Report  (PDF, 2.3 mb) and 2018 CEDS Annual Report Summary (PDF, 1.4 mb).
  • FRCOG is a member of the Pioneer Valley Regional Planning Core Team, which is working with MassHire Franklin Hampshire Workforce Board and additional partners to implement workforce development strategies identified in the 2018 Pioneer Valley Labor Market Blueprint.
  • The 2018 Franklin County Business Development Profile provides data and resources to help entrepreneurs and existing businesses grow their ventures. 
  • Studies to support economic development at the municipal or downtown/village center have been completed in recent years for Conway, Deerfield, Orange and Whately.
  • FRCOG sponsored a study by the UMass Donahue Institute of the Economic Impacts of Vermont Yankee Closure and continues to work in partnership with tri-state area regional planning and economic development organizations to develop a strategy that will address the economic impacts of the discontinuation of energy generation activities at Vermont Yankee. 
  • Created a marketing brochure to promote a data center development opportunity at the Greenfield Innovation Park (formerly the Bendix site) that includes findings from a feasibility study for a small interconnection facility and data center.
  • Co-sponsored the Pioneer Valley Growth Business Study
  • Supporting economic development related to the return of passenger rail service in Greenfield.
  • Partnering in the Economic Resiliency in the Northern Tier initiative with the Franklin County Community Development Corporation and the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission to support access to technical assistance for small businesses and entrepreneurs.  The Northern Tier Cluster Study (2014) analyzed important clusters in the region and includes information from past Northern Tier studies.
  • Working with the Town of Greenfield and the Town of Montague to support the development of new planned industrial park land.

For more information about this program, please contact Jessica Atwood, Economic Development Program Manager (jatwood@frcog.org or 413-774-3167 x123).

Brownfields Assessment & Clean-up

A “brownfield” is defined by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as a property that the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant or contaminant. These vacant or underutilized sites can impact our natural environment, community health and economic opportunities. Since 1999, FRCOG has administered a Brownfields Program on behalf of the region that has conducted assessment or clean-up on over 50 sites in 17 Franklin County towns.

In 2014, FRCOG received its latest EPA award, a $300,000 combination grant to conduct environmental site assessments on properties suspected of possible contamination by hazardous substances or petroleum products.  Through a public procurement process the firm of Tighe & Bond, Inc. was hired by FROCG to conduct environmental site assessments under this grant.  For a property to be considered for assessment under this program, the Brownfields Steering Committee checks that it is eligible under EPA guidelines and uses pre-established criteria to accept and prioritize sitesAs of Spring 2018, all grant funds have been allocated to sites. FRCOG will seek another EPA assessment grant in a future EPA funding round.

In addition to assessment, FRCOG administered an EPA-funded Brownfields Clean-up Revolving Loan Fund & Subgrant program that provided loan financing (and/or subgrants to municipalities) to eligible property owners to fund the clean-up hazardous materials. Properties that have benefited from this program are: First National Bank Building in Greenfield; the Upper Mill in Colrain; Putnam Hall in Orange; Usher Mill in Erving; Strathmore’s Building #10 Debris Pile in Turners Falls; Lunt Silversmith in Greenfield; and the Ramage Paper – Wood Structure in Monroe.

For more information about this program and site eligibility download the Regional Brownfields Program or contact Peggy Sloan, Director Planning & Development, (psloan@frcog.org or 413-774-3167 x133) or Jessica Atwood, Senior Economic Development Planner (jatwood@frcog.org or 413-774-3167 x123).

Broadband Infrastructure and Adoption

FRCOG has been an active leader in regional broadband access equity issues since the “digital divide” emerged as a significant challenge for the region in the 1990s. Through partnerships with the Massachusetts Broadband Institute (MBI) and WesternMA Connect, Inc., the FRCOG supports efforts to deploy broadband infrastructure in the region and encourage the adoption of advanced broadband services. The MBI was created by the state legislature and Governor Patrick in 2008, with the mission to expand affordable broadband access across the Commonwealth. A timeline of work conducted by WesternMA Connect, Inc. and previous Connect efforts with FRCOG describes activities undertaken from 1997 through 2016.

The MBI has completed construction of the MassBroadband 123 network, which is a new fiber-optic middle mile network that is dramatically changing the business model for how providers are able to serve unserved areas, and is providing a direct fiber connection to over 1,200 community anchor institutions (CAIs) in western and north-central Massachusetts. Working with the MBI and Connect, the FRCOG produced the “Innovative Uses of Broadband in Your Community” guide to inspire municipally-based CAIs to think about how they could use next generation broadband services in their community.

Executive Director Linda Dunlavy is a gubernatorial appointee to the MBI Board of Directors. FRCOG continues to support efforts to more robustly use the advanced telecom infrastructure available in the region as well as to bring broadband access to the last mile in the unserved and underserved communities of Western Massachusetts.

For more information about this program, please contact Jessica Atwood, Economic Development Program Manager (jatwood@frcog.org or 413-774-3167 x123).