Allan W. Blair | Mass Live

As we begin 2014 and consider its promise, the word “opportunity” seems to come up quite often. Maybe it is simply a natural impulse as we begin a new year, but I think it reflects a solid sense that many positive developments will happen this year.

It is an optimistic word, and when I think about it with respect to economic development, I immediately consider the many opportunities for growth – in jobs, business establishments, visitors and investment. All of which contribute to our collective standard of living, and to an increase in tax revenues that support the quality of life we desire.

One thing we have learned about our region is that for us to achieve the growth we want, we have to make our own opportunities. In the 1980 and ’90s we developed industrial and business parks around the region that attracted thousands of jobs in many new and expanded companies, all generating millions in new property taxes for the municipalities in which they are located. This kind of “prospective investment” was necessary for us to compete with other regions for the scarce amount of investment being made in new plant and equipment in the Northeast.

We create opportunities when we prepare our workforce for the new and more complex jobs created by our existing companies, as well as by those we hope to attract. The innovative training in the precision manufacturing sector funded by the state and managed by the Hampden County Regional Employment Board is a good example. {….}