UMass President Vows Outreach in Pioneer Valley

University of Massachusetts President Robert Caret told the Holyoke Chamber of Commerce today he promises to help grow and recruit innovative companies in that city and throughout the Pioneer Valley region.

Holyoke Chamber of Commerce board chairwoman Deborah Buckley opened the annual economic development breakfast by saying it's the first time in awhile that people can talk about a bright future for Holyoke without sounding "delusional." Later, Buckley, who owns an insurance company, said that the arrival of the Mass Green High Performance Computing Center and the new, young mayor have given her hope.

"We're pretty excited about the direction things are going in the community, we have lots of new development. We're hoping really to start to attract some new businesses in the community and we think that we're off to a good start."

In addition to the computing center in downtown Holyoke, UMass president Robert Caret talked about research and development ventures throughout the Pioneer Valley, including a nascent high-speed data center in Springfield. But he said that while the university provides thousands of jobs in the area, he's just as interested in contributing STEM graduates, which are students of science, technology, engineering and math.

"If you talk to some of the tech companies in town they have a 10% vacancy rate. You just don't have the students that are prepared to take those jobs. So it is important to get students to understand, you know, you want to go to school and learn just to learn, but you want to think sometimes, how am I going to learn when I'm done? And we're going to try to help them do that too and help them get into STEM."

Caret says that in his first few months on the job, he's heard from people in the Pioneer Valley business community directly that they want more collaboration with UMass.