On Inauguration Day in 2012, Mayor Alex Morse delivered a message of optimism and civic pride. “When I look at Holyoke today,” Morse said, “I see what our Holyoke forebears saw when they created the Paper City of the World: a city of limitless possibility.”
Since that January morning, Mayor Morse has worked with his whole administration and people throughout the city to seize Holyoke’s unique possibilities. To Mayor Morse, the role of good government in the 21st century is to cultivate and harness the untapped potential of our citizens. The key to his administration’s economic strategy has been to take advantage of Holyoke’s assets — our renewable energy, our old mill buildings, our creative and innovative people — and rebrand the city for a new century.
Mayor Morse summed up his governing philosophy in his second inaugural address, when he said, “The people who call Holyoke home can feel the sense of possibility in the air. You aren’t waiting for City Hall to act. You’re taking Holyoke’s future into your own hands…Where the city government can further empower our citizens, and bolster this homegrown renewal, it will; where the city government now impedes that renewal, it will get out of the way. We will let Holyoke make Holyoke again.”
Understanding people’s desire to invest in Holyoke, the Morse administration has spent the past four years making the public investments necessary for spurring private economic activity. Mayor Morse invested in the rehabilitation of areas of Dwight Street and Northampton Street to make gateways to the city more attractive. Mayor Morse also allocated over $1 million of Community Development Block Grant money toward a new skate park, a newly renovated Avery Field, the new Carlos Vega Park, and Pina Park. Further, Mayor Morse has overseen over $2 million in streetscape improvements.
On Mayor Morse’s watch, investments in downtown Holyoke total more than $30 million. The mill buildings that once made Holyoke the world’s largest paper manufacturer are enabling Holyoke to become a hub of innovation and creativity. The administration has partnered with the Chamber of Commerce to launch the SPARK Program, an initiative designed to give people from Holyoke the tools they need to start their own businesses.
Mayor Morse has overseen the initiation and completion of several new development projects, including the Canal Walk, new apartments in the former Holyoke Catholic building, the brand new train platform in downtown Holyoke, the expansion of Gary Rome Hyundai, and the redevelopment of the Holyoke Hotel. On his watch, community policing strategies have led to drops in crime, property values have gone up, and the unemployment rate has dropped.
As a result of the Morse administration’s efforts, the national publication Popular Mechanics recently named Holyoke the 6th best “Startup City” in the nation, recognizing our efforts to create a climate for turning innovators into entrepreneurs.
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