In response to COVID-19, FRCOG offices are closed. Staff are working remotely. Email is likely the most efficient way to reach us. You can find our contact information on the Staff page under the About link below.

Building, plumbing and wiring inspectors are available for meetings by appointment 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 at the Meetings and Events link below.

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

Impacts due to COVID-19 – For resources and guidance for businesses affected by COVID-19, click here.

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 2020 Franklin County CEDS Plan (PDF, 8.1 mb) was completed under the guidance of the CEDS Committee in June 2020.  This new five-year plan uses the EDA framework and serves as a roadmap for the FRCOG and its partners to foster an environment in Franklin County that cultivates business and job growth and enhances opportunity for all. For a brief overview of the Plan, click on 2020 Franklin County CEDS Plan Summary (PDF, 1.3 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.
  • 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.

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 real property which the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant or contaminant. These sites have the potential to negatively impact our region’s public health, natural environment, 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 60 sites in 22 Franklin County towns.

FRCOG has been awarded seven EPA environmental site assessment grants totaling $1.5 millions. The latest award of $200,000 was received in 2019 and will fund assessment at sites potentially impacted by hazardous substances. Publicly or privately owned properties may be eligible for assessment under this program. FRCOG works with the EPA to determine site eligibility. No staff or contractor may go on a property without prior permission of the owner. Assessments are conducted at no cost to the property owner or the town. FRCOG member municipalities may request a site be considered by submitting a letter or email that identifies the property and describes why assessment is necessary. An assessor’s card for the site should be included with the request, along with an explanation of which Brownfield selection criteria relate to the proposed property.

Previously, FRCOG administered a Brownfields Clean-up Revolving Loan & Subgrant Fund through EPA awards of $1 million in 1999 and $500,000 in 2005.  The Fund provided low interest loans for clean-up of brownfield sites.  A portion of the Fun also provided subgrants to eligible towns. Properties that have benefited from the Fund included: 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. The Fund was closed out in 2016. FRCOG may reapply to the EPA in the future to reestablish the Fund.

For more information about this program, please view our FRCOG Brownfields Program Information sheet (PDF, 902kb) or contact Peggy Sloan, Director Planning & Development, (psloan@frcog.org or 413-774-3167 x133) or Jessica Atwood, Economic Development Program Manager (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. Play best Y8 Games at the website.

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).