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EPPR leading workforce talent strategy for the Knowledge Corridor

The UMass Donahue Institute’s Economic and Public Policy Research (EPPR) group began work on a project looking at the education levels of the labor force in the area known as the Knowledge Corridor, a region reaching from north-central Connecticut to the Pioneer Valley in Massachusetts. The group will conduct an analysis exploring preK-12 education, college graduate retention, workforce training and adult education in a region that roughly stretches from the metropolitan capitol city of Hartford, CT to the rural setting of Greenfield, MA. The project is focused on developing a Talent Action Strategy with the objective of fostering and retaining the area's skilled workers. As part of the Sustainable Knowledge Corridor planning initiative, this Talent Action Strategy will be incorporated into a comprehensive economic development strategy by the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission.

The creation of an updated development strategy targeting the Knowledge Corridor marks the evolution of the region from three counties in Western Massachusetts (Hampden, Hampshire and Franklin) to include Hartford and Tolland counties in Connecticut.  By merging into a bi-state coalition, the region is able to tout its excellent highway and air access, its bus and rail transit, a well-educated workforce and shared labor market, the intellectual and research resources of the region’s 32 universities and colleges, diverse businesses in the historically stable sectors of finance and insurance and burgeoning growth sectors such as alternative energy and health care, and an exceptional quality of life; all factors which position the Knowledge Corridor to become a more competitive arena for investment and business growth.

In addition to gathering a wide range of data on educational levels, job opportunities and occupational needs for the workforce, the Talent Action Strategy will offer recommendations to help the region implement a set of policies and collaborations that address barriers to growth. EPPR director Dan Hodge gave an overview of the project at a working session held by the Sustainable Knowledge Corridor Consortium in Springfield. Hodge outlined how data would be collected, analyzed and used to identify objectives for enhancing and retaining regional talent.  The study will be completed in early 2014.

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