Holyoke High Performance Computing Center Formally Opens

State, local, academic, and private sector officials gathered to formally open the Massachusetts Green High Performance Computing Center in Holyoke Friday. The center has been in the works in the western Massachusetts city for three years and will serve a consortium of five universities.

The center is a joint project of Harvard, Northeastern, and Boston Universities, MIT, and the University of Massachusetts. It will house thousands of high performance computers enabling researchers to store data and conduct fast calculations to aid their research, likely in genetics, climate, and engineering, among other fields.

Holyoke was chosen as the center’s location for its access to inexpensive, renewable hydropower generated from canals in the city’s downtown. The $95 million facility has the capacity to use as much power as that of three small New England towns. Holyoke mayor Alex Morse says the project show’s the city’s potential to attract high-tech businesses. He says the center is opening at a critical moment.

“Just when people thought that Holyoke would never sort of turn around and become a better place, and this won’t do it alone, but I think this really catalyzing energy and commitment we need to push forward our economic development strategy.”

A spokesperson for the computing center declined to comment on how many jobs the center would bring to Holyoke. But Governor Deval Patrick, who attended the ribbon cutting ceremony, says the facility is the beginning of a better future for the city.

“I am confident that if you bring to the work inside this building the same spirit that invented this building, Holyoke’s best days lie ahead.”

The project was paid for through federal, state, and private funds, as well as funding from the five member universities, which will continue to fund the center’s operation.