LEOMINSTER, MASS. — A planned Plastics Technology Center for north central Massachusetts is a step closer to reality, thanks to a $50,000 federal grant to perform a market analysis and feasibility study.
``This really makes a big difference in the project,'' said Leominster Mayor Dean J. Mazzarella, who has been pushing for such a center since 1997, ``It will show what the chances are and if there is really a need.''
Rep. John W. Olver, D.-Mass., helped obtain the funding through the Economic Development Administration of the Department of Commerce.
``For over 100 years this region has been one of the major plastics centers in the world,'' Olver said in a news release. ``But the companies are struggling with problems like skilled labor shortages, lack of accessibility to training programs and global competition.
``This funding will help to meet the industry's demand for skilled workers and will provide residents with the training and resources to obtain quality employment.''
Mazzarella said the bid process will take 60-90 days and the study another 90-120 days.
He hopes the study will give a boost to the center plan. It is also a step towards obtaining further federal assistance. Mazzarella expects a combination of public and private funding will get the center started.
Leominster has also recently hired Joseph Viola as plastics technology coordinator. His responsibility is to organize and prepare plans for the physical development of the center.
The proposed center would provide a one-stop shop to coordinate training and provide technical and business assistance. Ultimately, it also would be available to provide an area for new businesses to get started.
``There is a real need for incubator space for startups,'' said Mazzarella, who noted that most of the space in Leominster is filled.
He added that the region supports about 250 plastics companies, as well as many wire and cable companies that do business with those processors.