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August 30, 2021

HOLYOKE — Mayoral candidate Rebecca Lisi Thursday questioned how Holyoke failed to get a $2.7 billion data center project that’s headed instead to Westfield.

“We already have the Massachusetts Green High Performance Computing Center downtown. This data center would have been a great fit,” said Lisi, who has been a city councilor at large for 14 years.

“How did Holyoke miss this? We’ve got to do a better job of showcasing our city’s assets when these kinds of economic development opportunities surface,” Lisi said.

The Republican reported Wednesday that developers are working with Westfield officials to build a campus of 10 data center buildings on vacant land on the north side of the city and west of Route 10 and 202. Construction would be done in phases and include a $2.7 billion investment.

The project would occupy 2.74 million square feet over 155 acres. It would provide 400 jobs and 18,000 construction jobs over 12 to18 years.

Tenants in the Westfield project could include tech giants like Google, Microsoft, Apple and Facebook, a development official said.

“Green, hydro-electric power makes Holyoke the natural site for such high-tech industry,” Lisi said. “We’ve done so much to build Holyoke’s reputation as a leader in the green economy. I wonder if the developer understood that they could offset their carbon footprint by locating their energy-intensive data center here in the city.”

 

From Focus Springfield Community TV, “Candidate for Holyoke Mayor Rebeccca Lisi @ 2021 Sheriff Picnic.” August 19, 2021

The $165 million Massachusetts Green High Performance Computing Center opened in Holyoke in 2012 on Bigelow Street between Appleton and Cabot streets. The research facility’s partners are Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of Massachusetts, Boston University, Northeastern University, EMC Corp., of Hopkinton, an information storage, back-up and recovery firm, and Cisco Systems Inc., a California-based internet network equipment maker.

Holyoke was attractive for such a facility, which overlooks the city’s first-level canal, because the building houses thousands of computers and needed a steady and relatively affordable supply of power. That’s what it gets from the hydroelectric dam, owned by the Holyoke Gas and Electric Department. 

Holyoke could have offered something that other local cities with municipal power companies, including Westfield cannot: renewable energy sourced hydro-power. It’s one reason the purchase of the dam was approved.

Lisi noted the availability of affordable, municipally-provided power via the Westfield Gas and Electric Department was cited as a reason that developers planning the multi-billion-dollar data center chose Westfield.

That’s a missed opportunity for Holyoke, Lisi said. Marketing the city’s green assets will be a priority when she is mayor.

“Where was Holyoke in making the case to land such a massive, jobs-intensive project given the capabilities of the Holyoke Gas and Electric Department?” Lisi said.

The four pillars of Lisi’s campaign for mayor are economic development, education, being welcoming to newcomers and civic engagement.

The top two vote-getters in the preliminary election Sept. 21 will compete to become Holyoke’s next mayor on Election Day Nov. 2.

For more information about the Lisi for Mayor campaign, visit: votelisi.com.

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