Sunday, August 10, 2008

This week has been a meat grinder at work, so therefore my lack of posting....I'm making up for it this week.

I'm sure at least some of you have seen the news reports on the piece on "America's Fastest Dying Cities." I was the first in the area's press corps to find out about this and inform the mayor's office. However the mayor elected to speak with other outlets rather than me.

That's what I get for trying to do something right.

If you've not seen a report about the story, in a nutshell, Springfield was lumped together with cities such as Detroit and Flint, Michigan, Canton, Youngstown, Dayton and Cleveland, Ohio, Buffalo, NY, Charlestown, WV and Scranton, PA. Census track information was used to determine these cities had negative or marginal business growth, high unemployment, and decreasing populations.

Springfield did not deserve to be on this list and I suspect some of these others towns didn't deserve it either as the numbers don't tell the whole story.

But the Forbes folks aren't interested in a "whole story." They want to do the business equivalent of a Britney story. If you actually look at what is happening in our area you see a number of high tech machine shops begging for workers. You see BayState Medical begging for workers. You see millions of dollars in private investment such as the Onyx/LA Fitness complex, as well as seeing a place such as the Springfield Business Incubator helping to create jobs with stable small businesses.

You see a community that has attracted a developer to turn the historic Court Square building into a condo/hotel complex. You see Springfield participating in the Knowledge Corridor initiative with Hartford and partnering with Chicopee on the high tech industrial park.

Yeah I readily admit I'm a booster. I'm not one of the MassLive anonymous posters who live in the suburbs, work in Springfield and then snipe at it under a cutesy pen name. Frankly I seldom read what those cowards write.

Does the city have its problems? Absolutely. Are the problems that took years to develop? Yes. Are there immediate solutions? No. Are there solutions that will take time? Yes.

Springfield's leadership should be making sure the city's kids see the career paths that are available to them locally. The machine shops put training program at Putnam High themselves to train the workers they need and they had to beg to get the donated equipment wired!

The primary job of the business community and the mayor's office should be not just job creation, but making sure the available jobs are filled by insuring there is a properly educated workforce.

© Gordon Michael Dobbs

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