High Performance Computing Center Holyoke

100510_holyoke_computing_center_groundbreaking.jpgThe Republican / John SuchockiA time capsule is set in place by Massachusetts Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Gregory Bialecki on Tuesday to mark the groundbreaking of a $168 million high performance computing center in Holyoke.

HOLYOKE - What began with a phone call between two college presidents in January 2009 led to the ceremonial groundbreaking on Tuesday of a $168 million high performance computing center.

The collection of computers will combine to do research at eye-popping speeds using millions of bits of data for everything from climate control to the human genome, officials said.

The facility will be built at the former Mastex Industries Inc. facility beside the first-level canal on Bigelow Street.

The computing center itself will employ about 20 people, with officials saying repeatedly that the benefit to the city and region will come on the strength of businesses and others drawn here by such an intriguing facility.

The Republican / Don TreegerGov. Deval L. Patrick, right, and Holyoke Community College President William Messner address the crowd gathered for the grand opening of the new Holyoke Transportation Center in downtown Holyoke.

“I think it’s a real opportunity to serve as a magnet on a whole host of levels, ” Patrick said, at a “town meeting” gathering at the Holyoke Transportation Center.

Patrick was scheduled to participate in the ceremonial ground breaking for the computing center, but instead attended the funeral of Army Pfc. Clinton E. Springer II in Falmouth earlier in the day. Springer died in a non-combat related incident in Kabul, Afghanistan on Sept. 24, according to the Washington Post.

Late on Tuesday afternoon, Patrick met with the editorial board of The Republican for about an hour and asked for the newspaper’s endorsement in the Nov. 2 election. In the governor’s contest, Patrick, a Democrat, is facing Republican Charles D. Baker, independent Timothy P. Cahill and Green-Rainbow nominee Dr. Jill E. Stein.

Patrick defended his record on jobs in the Springfield metropolitan area. According to the most recent statistics from the state Office of Labor and Workforce Development, the Springfield area has 276, 000 jobs as of August, down 23, 000 since Patrick took office in January 2007.

Patrick attributed the job losses to the collapse of the global economy in 2008 and 2009. He said the state as a whole now is adding jobs - 65, 000 since January - partly because of his policies to position the state to benefit from an economic rebound.

Patrick cited his support for economic initiatives including a new state data center in Springfield, clean energy such as wind power, high-speed broadband Internet for Western Massachusetts, commuter rail between Hartford and Springfield, increasing the role of community colleges in job training and boosting training for manufacturing jobs in the medical device sector and other innovative industries.

He also cited the close involvement of high-tech companies and universities with the planned computing center in Holyoke.

Susan Hockfield, president of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said she phoned Jack M. Wilson, president of the University of Massachusetts, on a winter afternoon nearly two years ago to discuss the region’s need for such a computing center.

MIT students are taught that having an idea isn’t enough, she said, that it must be brought into action.

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