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Upton Selectmen Hear from 495 Metrowest Partnership

Jessica Strunkin, Deputy Director of Public Policy and Public Affairs for the 495/Metrowest Partnership, paid a visit to the Upton Selectmen during an April 19 meeting in an effort to provide them an update of the Partnership's activities and to discuss ways the organization may be able to assist the community.

The 495 Metrowest Partnership is a public and private organization created in 2003 that focuses on economic development, transportation, and water supply issues around the 495 Metrowest region. The Partnership represents each of the 35 communities in the area.

Strunkin spoke about the Partnership's newly released 2016 Strength in Numbers report which she stated is a regional demographic report and explains, "Why our region matters, why the state should invest in our region, why companies should locate here, and why it's great to live here."

Some of the report's highlights include information on the $22.5 billion payroll paid between June 2014 to July 2015 in the Metrowest area; the region is home to 1 in every 11 jobs in the state, the regional workforce is considered highly educated with more than 56 percent holding a bachelor's degree or higher, housing and commercial real estate is competitive, and the area's unemployment is below average compared to the nation and state. "We also break the numbers down by municipalities," she explained.

Strunkin noted the Partnership's Board of Directors demonstrates a broad constituency of public officials, town planners, and business executives.

She also mentioned the Governor's new economic development plan which initially highlighted only urban and rural communities. "One of the things we had commented on is the further attention needed to suburban communities," she said. The Partnership also noted that water infrastructure, such as access to water, wastewater treatment, and stormwater management were equally in need of attention. As a result, both topics were subsequently added to the Governor's plan. "That's one way the Partnership works to enhance our communities and the region as a whole," she said.

Strunkin said her organization will also write letters of recommendation for any state grants Upton may be applying for and through the Central Mass Metropolitan Planning Organization's Advisory Committee she has advocated for the town's Hartford Ave., High St. and Hopkinton Road project.

Selectman Robert Fleming inquired about the gridlock issue on 495 between Route 9 and Mass Pike. "Anyone who commutes that way during any time of the day is clearly aware of what that backup is like," he said. Strunkin said the Partnership has been advocating for improvements to that area and as a result it was recently added to a study being completed by the Mass. Department of Transportation.


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