The public and private investment going on in Worcester right now is enormous. Our concern, however, is that most people beyond the city limits do not know the scope and scale of the job-generating projects now underway in Worcester.
Look around this city. The next building is going up at WPI's Gateway Park. The old mall is now falling. The new Hanover Theatre for the Performing Arts is attracting the best of Broadway and hundreds of thousands of visitors annually. The Canal District is bustling with storefronts, new restaurants and multi-million dollar streetscape improvements. Across the city, the University of Massachusetts Medical School recently celebrated the topping-off of the $400 million Albert Sherman Center, a massive new research center that will open next year and house 1,000 life sciences jobs. On the hill above that, the new Worcester State Hospital is nearing completion.
CSX is investing $100 million to make Worcester the key freight rail hub of New England, creating new jobs within the railroad, and generating spin-off growth in warehouse distribution, packaging and assembly operations to serve the entire northeast. With the CSX agreement, the commonwealth is acquiring control of the commuter rail line that will allow us to eventually double passenger service between Worcester and Boston.
These projects and initiatives, both completed and underway, when coupled with the region's quality of life, diverse housing options, strong public and private educational systems and safe communities, presents a compelling case to businesses looking to grow.
So now is the time to re-tool how Worcester presents itself to the broader business world. It's time for the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce, Worcester Business Development Corp., Destination Worcester, Central Mass. Convention & Visitors Bureau, Mass. Biomedical Initiatives, and a range of neighborhood and community business groups who are now involved in some aspects of economic development, to get around the table, roll up their sleeves, and implement a new strategic plan for promoting Worcester and the region.
This initiative should focus, at a minimum, on business retention; recruitment and expansion; business advocacy and support; project development and implementation; and promoting the region for travel, tourism, events and conventions.
The city can be the convener for this initiative, to ensure public input and provide the neutral ground to make sure the potential for innovation is not limited by the old ways of doing business. This is a moment of opportunity and transition for the entire region, and these organizations should look to create new paradigms of collaboration and efficiency among them. In partnership with the city and state, we have an effort to create a true public-private model that is more effective and efficient and introduces Worcester to the world.
Timothy P. Murray is the lieutenant governor of Massachusetts and a former mayor of Worcester. Michael V. O'Brien is city manager of Worcester.