Why City to City for Greater Springfield?

The City of Springfield, Massachusetts, the regional driver for economic and social development, faces a range of challenges in its advancement. The City’s population is not growing; the low retention of area college graduates and high poverty rate represent barriers to overall progress. As is the case in many northeast urban centers where manufacturing has steadily declined, Springfield is a city at a crossroads on a number of levels. Many efforts currently are underway in the education, workforce development, housing, economic and downtown development arenas to address the challenges Springfield is facing.  Despite the number of positive initiatives underway, there is a general sense the city is not reaching its potential and more could be undertaken collaboratively to advance the city and region.

How City2City Greater Springfield Was Born

In November 2009, a small group was convened by the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts to hear about and discuss a study of Springfield conducted by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston (FRB).  The report cited 25 peer cities using key economic indicators from 1960 to present.  From this list The FRB identified 10 as “resurgent cities: Winston-Salem and Greensboro, NC; Worcester; Providence; New Haven; Jersey City; Grand Rapids; Fort Wayne; Evansville; and Peoria. Resurgent Cities, as determined by the FRB, have re-imagined themselves through strategic initiative and new and diverse collaborations. It was an informative presentation by Richard Walker and good conversation by all who attended.  During the session, we discussed collaborations and the need for leadership to move the city forward that would result in a revitalization of the Greater Springfield area.  On March 31, 2010, a similar group of 15-20 people met to talk about creating a City to City group in Springfield similar to the effort in Boston.