Holyoke received a $250,000 three-year implementation award for its SPARK (Stimulating Potential, Accessing Resource Knowledge) Initiative which aims to link the Massachusetts Green High Performance Computing Center and Holyoke’s innovation economy strategy to its residents; namely, the city’s Latino population. The initiative is being led by the Greater Holyoke Chamber Centennial Foundation, and is further supported by partners across multiple sectors within the public, private, and nonprofit realm.
The SPARK initiative will develop a system that supports immigrant entrepreneurs by coordinating a pipeline for entrepreneurs and streamlining an existing “grab bag” of economic development services. The initiative seeks to raise the percentage of Latino-owned businesses from its current 9 percent share to at least 25 percent in 10 years.
City of Holyoke, the Holyoke Food and Fitness Policy Council,
Juntos Collaborative, the Holyoke Innovation District, CareerPoint,
and Holyoke Public Library
Learn about Holyoke
A 57-foot drop in the Connecticut River was the source of Holyoke's initial prosperity. An investor group that had developed the water-powered mills of Lowell during the 1830s sought to replicate their success by constructing a dam and a series of canals on the Connecticut River in the 1840s. The inexpensive energy from that project eventually powered the paper mills and factories that helped Holyoke to thrive for more than a century thereafter and gave the city its "Paper City" nickname. During the second half of the 20th century, the paper mills and many other manufacturing facilities moved elsewhere or closed their gates altogether.
Census data show that the city's population peaked at 60,203 and declined more or less steadily to 39,880 in 2010. The 2010 census shows:
|Persons under 18 years||26.4%||21.7%|
|Persons 65 years and over||14.2%||13.8%|
|American Indian and Alaska Native||0.8%||0.3%|
|Black or African-American alone||4.7%||6.6%|
|Hispanic or Latino||48.4%||9.6%|
|Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander||0.1%||0.0%|
|Two or more races||3.9%||2.6%|
|White alone (not Hispanic or Latino)||46.8%||76.1%|
“Holyoke, a manufacturing city lying between the Connecticut River and Mount Tom, is built around the numerous power canals that cut across the city. Entered from the north, it is modern, well-groomed, and prosperous. … The manufacturing center, lying along the power canals, has been unusually active during the depression. The absence of drab slum quarters usually associated with mills towns is notable.”
According to the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey five-year estimates for 2007-2011, 5.4% of Holyoke residents are foreign-born, compared with 14.7% statewide.
People of Latino or Hispanic ancestry make up 48.4% of the city’s overall population, and more than 20% of the city’s residents are American citizens born in Puerto Rico.
The American Community Survey also shows that:
According to the Massachusetts Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development, as of June 2013, 11.7% of Holyoke residents were unemployed, compared with 7.4% statewide. Clark University researchers report that Holyoke’s five largest employers are:
There are a number of promising economic and community development initiatives that are either in the works or recently completed: