September 21, 2018

Berkshire Eagle: Berkshire Innovation Center Groundbreaking Set for Tuesday

SEPTEMBER 19, 2018

PITTSFIELD — A ceremony that many thought would never happen is finally ready to take place.

State and local officials will gather at the William Stanley Business Park of the Berkshires on Tuesday for the official groundbreaking ceremony for the $13.8 million Berkshire Innovation Center, the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center has announced.

The ceremony will take place at 1:30 p.m. at the innovation center’s future site in the business park, a 4-acre parcel on the west side of Woodlawn Avenue that is located between the CSX Railroad tracks and East Street. The goal is to complete the project by the third quarter of 2019.

The two-story, 20,000-square-foot workforce development center will include training facilities, biotech wet space, clean rooms, office and event space for small- to medium-sized companies in the region. It is intended to support economic growth, jobs and private investment in the region.

The development center is considered to be key to the future development of the still mostly vacant 52-acre business park that was established 20 years ago.

A $3 million funding gap that delayed construction of the facility for three years was finally rectified in March. Gov. Charlie Baker, Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito and state Secretary of Economic Development Jay Ash traveled to Pittsfield that month to attend the official announcement that the funding gap had been resolved.

Tuesday was selected for the official groundbreaking because the date happens to coincide with officials’ schedules, said Massachusetts Life Sciences Center spokesman Joe Sullivan. The list of dignitaries scheduled to be present at the groundbreaking ceremony will be finalized in the next few days, he said.

The genesis for what eventually became the innovation center occurred 10 years ago, when the city of Pittsfield received a $6.5 million earmark in then-Gov. Deval Patrick’s $1 billion life sciences bill to construct a life sciences-related facility in the Stanley Business Park. When the project finally moved forward in 2014, the life sciences center provided an additional $3.2 million to bring the project’s total cost to $9.7 million.

Construction was originally scheduled to begin in 2015, but the project was delayed after the original bids came in $3 million higher than expected.

A public-private partnership consisting of state, local and private sector officials finally resolved the funding issue earlier this year, with help from an additional $2.3 million from the state of Massachusetts.

The innovation center’s nonprofit board of directors, which is overseeing the construction of the project, hired both a general contractor and a project manager this summer. They have been conducting pre-construction work on the site.

Read the full article on the Berkshire Eagle website here.