Report Calls for ‘Transformative Investments’ in Key Sectors in Western Mass.

The surprise was food science.

At least, that industry’s prominent place on a recent report outlining economic potential in Western Mass. was a mild surprise to some, Rick Sullivan said, but maybe it shouldn’t have been.

The report in question — commissioned and funded by the Western Massachusetts Economic Development Council (EDC) and produced by MassINC and Cambridge Econometrics — is called “Accelerating Inclusive Growth in the Pioneer Valley: A Prospectus for Transformative Investment.”

At its heart, it determines that the Pioneer Valley has considerable strength in certain industries and technologies poised to grow with the transition to a low-carbon future, specifically detailing competitive advantages — and, hence, major economic opportunity — in the realms of food science, advanced materials, and clean energy.

Sullivan, EDC president and CEO, noted that Big Y Executive Chairman Charlie D’Amour, who sat on the project’s advisory group, knows his way around matters of food science, food security, and food-delivery systems. “And I think he didn’t even have any idea about how deep the work being done at UMass was and their leadership position in this field, and how we could tie it all in together. I mean, UMass has the number-one food-science program in the country. Who knew?”

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