Month: February 2017

Senator Lesser Welcomes Play-Doh Manufacturing to East Longmeadow

“This is the kind of opportunity that helps our economy thrive,” Lesser said

SPRINGFIELD — Following Hasbro, Inc.’s announcement that it would be moving Play-Doh manufacturing back to the United States and to its facility in East Longmeadow, Mass., Senator Eric P. Lesser, Senate Chair of the Joint Legislative Manufacturing Caucus, released the following statement:

“I am thrilled that Hasbro is bringing Play-Doh manufacturing to its facility in East Longmeadow. With a toddler at home who loves Play-Doh, I know first-hand what a beloved and iconic brand Play-Doh is. Hasbro employs 460 workers in East Longmeadow, and 20 more with this announcement, making it an important member of our community. This is the kind of opportunity that helps our economy thrive, maintaining the strong manufacturing sector that our region is known for. And, as the new Senate chair of the Joint Committee on Economic Development, this is the kind of opportunity I plan to attract more of to Western Mass. Manufacturing has been a cornerstone of our region’s economy for ten generations, and will continue to be a primary focus of my work in the State Senate.”

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Senator Lesser Named to Special Commission to Preserve Polish Heritage in the Pioneer Valley

“Polish immigrants, like so many other groups who came to Massachusetts, have helped shape the character of our communities,” Lesser said

BOSTON — Senate President Stan Rosenberg appointed Senator Eric P. Lesser to the Special Commission to Preserve Polish Heritage in the Pioneer Valley on Friday.

Lesser, who has Polish roots on his father’s side, will be one of two senators on the commission, which will also include three House members and five members appointed by the governor.

“Polish immigrants, like so many other groups who came to Massachusetts, have helped shape the character of our communities. Immigrants are an indelible piece of our identity, and I am particularly proud to help honor the contributions of Polish heritage to Chicopee, Ludlow and the entire Commonwealth,” Lesser said.

The commission will be tasked with promoting Polish cultural activities in Western Massachusetts that highlight the contributions people of Polish heritage have made and continue to make to the Pioneer Valley and the state. The special commission will also evaluate resources available to preserve and research Polish language, history, culture, genealogy, music and the immigrant experience.

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Senator Lesser Moves Into New District Office

SPRINGFIELD — Senator Eric P. Lesser has moved into a new district office, upstairs from his previous office in East Longmeadow.

The office is located on the second floor of 60 Shaker Road in East Longmeadow, in Suite 11.

Mail can be addressed to The Office of Senator Eric Lesser, 60 Shaker Road, East Longmeadow, MA 01028.

The office is managed by Lesser’s District Director Joel McAuliffe, who can be contacted via telephone at 413-526-6501 or by email at Joel.McAuliffe@masenate.gov. As always, constituents are welcome to schedule an appointment to express any concerns, ideas and issues they have.

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Senator Lesser Named Senate Chairman of Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies

Additional committee assignments include Financial Services, Higher Education, Transportation and Veterans and Federal Affairs

Boston — Senate President Stan Rosenberg named Senator Eric P. Lesser Senate Chairman of the Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies Wednesday.

“I look forward to using this new role to bring new opportunities to Western Mass. More and more businesses are choosing our region as the place they want to invest in, and my goal is to open the door to these opportunities and bring jobs and higher incomes to our region,” Lesser said.

The committee is critically important to Western Massachusetts. It oversees matters concerning commercial and industrial establishments; casino gambling and gaming; industrial development; science and technology; research and development; information, networking, the Internet, data storage and access; biotechnology and medical devices; environmental technologies; and workforce training, among many other issues.

Lesser’s large portfolio touches a wide range of issues, from higher education to veterans affairs to transportation. In addition to his chairmanship, Lesser will serve as Senate Vice Chairman of the Joint Committee on Financial Services and as member of the Senate Committee on Intergovernmental Affairs, as well as member of the following joint committees:

  • Elder Affairs
  • Health Care Financing
  • Higher Education
  • Transportation
  • Veterans and Federal Affairs

“We are in an exciting moment for our region. Springfield’s new developments, and Chicopee’s new hotels and business openings are just a few reasons for optimism in our region’s future. It is time to use all the tools at our disposal to capture our potential, and I am eager to get to work leveling the playing field for Western Mass families,” Lesser said.

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High-tech manufacturing experiencing renaissance in Western Mass.

In Masslive 2/15/17

There are many reasons for optimism about our region’s economy. Springfield’s skyline is dotted with cranes, and the next two years will see Union Station, the CRRC rail-car plant and the MGM Springfield casino open and come to life. Together, these developments represent billions of dollars in new investment and hundreds of new jobs.

But there is another economic trend worth our attention. It’s more difficult to see because it largely plays out at local, family-owned shops up and down the Pioneer Valley. It’s a renaissance in high-tech manufacturing – and the high-paying jobs that go with it.

Companies like Dielectrics in Chicopee, Meridian Industrial in Holyoke, FloDesign in Wilbraham and Advance Welding in Springfield are using cutting-edge techniques and highly skilled Western Massachusetts workers to make components for medical devices, aircraft engines, wind turbines and sonar systems sold all over the world.

Despite our leadership in this cutting-edge field, our region is not producing enough skilled workers to fill the available jobs. As a result, there are vacancies across Western Massachusetts and thousands more projected in the coming years. This shortage will become even more pronounced once the CRRC railcar plant comes on line.

Failure to address this skills gap is more than a statistic: it’s a threat to our economic future.

Wages in this high-tech field can approach averages of $75,000 a year. Imagine the billions of dollars in lost potential if we allow those positions to go unfilled, denying thousands of families the chance to buy homes, save for retirement and invest in the Western Massachusetts economy.

Eventually, we would do permanent damage to our economy because manufacturers will move somewhere with a steadier supply of skilled workers.

That’s why I spent so much time focused on manufacturing policy last session, as Senate chair of the Legislature’s Manufacturing Caucus.

It’s also why, in the new legislative session, we need to expand and improve our vocational education programs, especially in high-tech manufacturing, and incentivize collaboration between local employers and local educators.

High quality training is especially important given the competitive nature of modern manufacturing. Workers are expected to operate complex, multi-million dollar machines and the computer systems that control them. This requires mathematics and engineering skills, along with the ability to adopt new technologies like 3-D printing.

Luckily, many of our region’s leaders and organizations are preparing the next generation of high-tech workers in innovative ways.

The machine tool technology programs at Chicopee Comprehensive High School and Putnam Vocational-Technical Academy are statewide models.

On a college level, the Smith & Wesson Applications Center at Springfield Technical Community College continues to see record enrollment and placement.

And for those striving to enter the workforce, the Regional Employment Board of Hampden County and the Western Massachusetts chapter of the National Tooling and Machining Association run a pilot program for unemployed and under-employed workers, including veterans, an initiative my colleagues and I substantially increased funding for last session.

There are many new initiatives aimed at supporting the Pioneer Valley’s high-tech manufacturing scene.

Valley Venture Mentors, for example, launched a manufacturing accelerator to help local manufacturers get connected to new business opportunities.

Greentown Labs, a clean-energy incubator in Somerville, is opening an office at the Springfield Technical Community College Technology Park in Springfield to connect start-ups in eastern Massachusetts with manufacturing companies here, the fruits of an initiative led by House Speaker Robert DeLeo.

Tech Foundry in Springfield is pioneering new workforce training techniques and continues to grow and attract applicants.

These public-private partnerships need more support from Beacon Hill so they can continue to foster a vibrant, high-tech ecosystem in Greater Springfield.
We also need to do a better job marketing the high-tech manufacturing scene in Western Massachusetts and showing young people the type of futures they can have in this fast-paced industry.

Ever since George Washington placed the Armory here, Springfield – and the Pioneer Valley – has had a proud history of making some of the world’s most important and innovative products, from the first monkey-wrench to the first gas-powered automobile, from Rolls Royce cars to the rifles that won World War II.
We have been a high-tech center for centuries. Now, it’s time to recapture that spirit for the next generation.

Last year, I worked with my colleagues to secure funding for a new high-tech manufacturing program at the Lower Pioneer Valley Education Collaborative. The program is a partnership between nine area school districts, local employers and the state. During one of several visits, I met a high-school student who was learning to fashion aluminum for jet engines and other machines. He showed the same pride as my paternal grandfather, who worked as a tool-and-die maker his entire career.

At 18 years old, this young student will graduate and enter a high-tech field with clear pathways for advancement. After a few years, he can use his new skills and networks to open a local shop of his own. The products he makes will be used across the world, in some of the most important and competitive fields, from clean energy to aviation to healthcare. People will rely on his work to grow food, ship goods, fly planes, power cities and do everything else essential to powering our modern economy. And he will do it close to his home and his family, without having to move to Boston or New York or San Francisco, and without taking on tens of thousands of dollars in debt.

As a new year begins, let’s work to make sure we give thousands more people in Western Massachusetts the same opportunity.

State Sen. Eric P. Lesser, D-Longmeadow, is co-chairman of the Legislature’s Joint Manufacturing Caucus and co-chair of the Gateway Cities Caucus. He represents the 1st Hampden & Hampshire District in Western Massachusetts.

Senator Lesser Announces District-Wide Spring Office Hours Schedule

SPRINGFIELD — Senator Eric P. Lesser and his office announced a spring office hours schedule, with meetings to be held throughout the district starting in March. Constituents and town officials are invited to attend and express any concerns, ideas and issues they have. As always, constituents are welcome to schedule an appointment if the scheduled meeting times are not convenient by emailing Sen. Lesser’s District Director, Joel McAuliffe, at Joel.McAuliffe@masenate.gov or calling Sen. Lesser’s district office at 413-526-6501.

Chicopee
Every first Wednesday
11 a.m. to noon at Chicopee Public Library, 449 Front St, Chicopee, MA 01013

Springfield
Every first Tuesday
1:00 to 2:00 p.m. at Sixteen Acres Library, 1187 Parker St, Springfield, MA 01129

Ludlow
Every second Thursday
10:30 to 11:30 a.m. at Ludlow Senior Center, 39 Chestnut St, Ludlow, MA 01056

Belchertown
Every first Thursday
10:30 to 11:30 a.m. at Belchertown Senior Center, 17 Eugene Dr, Belchertown, MA 01007

Granby
Every first Thursday
12:30 to 1:30 p.m. at Granby Senior Center 10 W State St, South Hadley, MA 01075

Hampden
Every fourth Wednesday
11:00 a.m. to noon at Hampden Senior Center, 104 Allen St, Hampden, MA 01036

Wilbraham
Every fourth Wednesday
12:30 to 1:30pm at Wilbraham Senior Center, 45 Post Office Park # 4502, Wilbraham, MA 01095

East Longmeadow
Every third Thursday
11:00 a.m. to noon at East Longmeadow Senior Center, 328 N Main St, East Longmeadow, MA 01028

Longmeadow
Every first Monday
10:00 to 11:00 a.m. at Longmeadow Adult Center, 231 Maple Rd, Longmeadow, MA 01106

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Senator Lesser Cheers Chicopee’s Designation As A “Green Community”

I am glad that Chicopee is helping Massachusetts lead the nation in finding clean energy solutions to our energy challenges,” Lesser said

Chicopee — Senator Eric P. Lesser cheered today’s announcement from the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER) that Chicopee has been designated a Green Community and will receive $367,160 in funding for renewable energy projects.

“Residents of Chicopee should be proud that their efforts to reduce energy consumption have been recognized. This new grant that will bring further development opportunities to the city,” Lesser said.

Chicopee is one of 30 additional cities and towns designated Green Communities and will receive grants. With this announcement, more than half of Massachusetts cities and towns have earned Green Community status and 64 percent of Massachusetts residents live in a Green Community.

“When Massachusetts’ cities and towns invest in renewable energy and energy efficiency programs everyone wins, from taxpayers savings to a statewide reduction in emissions. With today’s designation, DOER’s Green Communities program continues to prove an effective tool in building a clean, renewable energy future for the Commonwealth,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew A. Beaton.

“This designation as a Green Community is notable for the City of Chicopee as it works to further promote clean energy and reduce energy consumption. With the state grant monies, Chicopee will have the opportunity to continue to make investments in energy efficiency projects while lowering costs for ratepayers,” said Representative Joseph F. Wagner, House Chair of the Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies.

Under the Green Communities Act, cities and towns must meet five criteria to be designated a Green Community and receive funding, including reducing municipal energy consumption by 20 percent over five years. The newly designated Green Communities have committed to reducing their energy consumption amounting to savings of $6,241,862 of energy costs and 2,234,090 MMBtu in five years, energy use equivalent to heating and powering nearly 2,718 homes, and reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 27,641 metric tons, equivalent to taking 5,819 cars off the roads.

“Using our energy more efficiently not only saves taxpayer dollars, but leaves our communities more sustainable for future generations. I am glad that Chicopee is helping Massachusetts lead the nation in finding clean energy solutions to our energy challenges,” Lesser said.

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