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Developers to Tour County

May 12, 2010 : The Republican, Jim Kinney

GREENFIELD – Twenty real estate developers from the Greater Boston area will tour Orange, Montague and downtown Greenfield today courtesy of Franklin County business boosters and the Massachusetts Development Finance Agency.

They’ll see rehabilitated buildings on Bank Row in downtown Greenfield. They will also visit the Avenue A business district, the Strathmore Paper building, the vacant Railroad Salvage building and the Hallmark Institute of Photography, all in the Montague village of Turners Falls, and downtown Orange, according to Mark S. Sternman, vice president of communications and policy at the agency known as MassDevelopment.

Ann L. Hamilton, president of the Franklin County Chamber of Commerce, said Tuesday that Greenfield has been on a roll with the recent redevelopment of three once-vacant buildings on Bank Row and the nearby Arts Block in addition to plans to increase occupancy of the upper floors of buildings in the downtown.

“It feels like we are at a tipping point here. Things are moving,” Hamilton said.

Jessica L. Atwood, economic development planner for the Franklin Regional Council of Governments, said today’s event is really designed to keep that ball rolling.

“And spread that momentum, for example, into downtown Orange,” she said. “And, at the same time get their feedback on what they are seeing, what their impressions are. Perhaps we can get ideas as to how to market opportunities to the development community.”

Atwood intends to use the bus ride between sites to talk about opportunities in other Franklin County communities, such as Deerfield and Shelburne Falls.

As many as 55 people, including 20 developers and local officials, are expected for the trip, Sternman said on Tuesday. He said the tour will cost about $2,000. MassDevelopment is a quasi-public economic development agency that does bonding for colleges and universities.

This event is the latest in a series of developers’ tours, including one that took place in Springfield in April 2008. It is the first, though, aimed at smaller towns and the first to include several communities.

“One of the things we want to do is show folks from outside Franklin County all of the opportunities that exist in Franklin County,” Sternman said.

© Copyright 2010 The Republican.