$175K Grant Will Help Establish a Rural Innovation Hub

April 20, 2021

Greenfield Community College (GCC) was awarded $175,000 from the Massachusetts Office of Business Development’s Regional Pilot Project Grant Program to create “Greater Franklin County Rural Innovation Accelerator,” which will design and deliver programs/services for individuals and communities throughout Franklin County. The Greater Franklin County Rural Innovation Accelerator will serve as a catalyst for the creation of a high impact, systemic approach to improving the economic well-being of individuals and communities throughout Franklin County.

GCC—in partnership with LaunchSpace Inc. (LSI) and the Franklin County Community Development Corporation (FCCDC)—is well-positioned to launch a set of comprehensive services aimed at helping people and communities weather COVID while preparing them for long-term success when the pandemic subsides.

Before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Franklin County, where more than ten percent of our population lives in poverty, was already facing chronic and persistent barriers that impacted the economic well-being of individuals, families, business and communities. Continued loss of manufacturing jobs that once formed the bedrock of our economies, and a crushing opioid crisis that has impacted the lives of countless residents, resulted in a ten percent unemployment rate. These challenges and more have been amplified in the face of COVID-19.

This project will provide critical resources to begin implementation of a comprehensive set of programs, supports, and resources aimed at economic health, recovery, and growth in Franklin County, while maximizing on existing creative and agricultural economies. While the partnership will work directly with the municipalities of Greenfield, Orange and Athol, we anticipate that the outcomes of this work will have ripple effects throughout the region. The ultimate success of this project is the creation of the Greater Franklin County Rural Innovation Accelerator, a robust and sustainable aligned action network positioned to fulfill our ultimate vision; a vibrant community that supports a high quality of life with physical, emotional and economic health for all citizens in a sustainable environment.