This week I had the opportunity to build relationships in the Springfield policy community and begin setting a foundation for the road ahead. As a newcomer to Western Massachusetts I still have much to learn, but I can also relate to the problems affecting the City’s of the area and Springfield in particular. Puerto Rico, recognized for its rapid ascension into the club of industrialized economies last century, has also suffered stagnation or decay in key economic and social sectors. Tackling socioeconomic decline in Springfield and its neighboring cities (or even Puerto Rico) will require a rigorous look at how other places have successfully implemented new models to transform their communities and broadening public participation for local policy-making, amongst other things.
At the Springfield Institute we strive to be a key part of those goals. But one thing I have learned this week is that there are a lot of people here who already get it. They understand that true economic development will occur by increasing the value proposition of the City, measured not only by how much it produces, but how its residents relate to and participate in the socioeconomic system, at all levels. I’m sure that vision will not only hasten a prosperous City for everyone, but will also be a model for others to emulate in the future as well.