WORCESTER, Mass. – Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) and its president and CEO, Dennis D. Berkey, have received the Bowditch Award from Worcester Business Development Corp. (WBDC), for the university and Dr. Berkey's visionary leadership in the development of and commitment to Gateway Park, in particular for WPI's Life Sciences and Bioengineering Center at Gateway Park. The annual Bowditch Award, named after WBDC founding member Robert S. Bowditch, goes to the recipient who has exceeded the WBDC's expectations for economic development in the Worcester region. The award was given on April 23 at the WBDC's 43rd annual meeting, which was held at Mechanics Hall in Worcester, Mass.
"WPI's intellectual infrastructure and Dennis Berkey's leadership and commitment are keys to the successful development of Gateway Park," said WBDC President David Forsberg.
Gateway Park LLC, a partnership between WPI and WBDC, is transforming an area of abandoned buildings and contaminated properties into a thriving site with the potential to create up to 2,000 high-wage, high-skilled jobs. From 1910 to about 1960, the site flourished as Worcester maintained its identity--earned at the start of the Industrial Revolution--as the manufacturing center of New England. But in the 1960s, the manufacturing industry began to decline, ultimately resulting in the loss of many jobs and leaving underutilized buildings and, as later studies confirmed, contaminated properties on the site.
The Gateway partnership was formed in 1999 to undertake a large-scale, brownfields revitalization project on a former industrial site in an environmentally and economically stagnant area. Along with WPI and WBDC, U.S. Rep. James McGovern, former Mayor and current Massachusetts Lt. Gov. Timothy Murray, City Manager Michael O'Brien, and State Sen. Ed Augustus played strong leadership roles, working collaboratively and lending their vision and support to the economic development plan for Gateway Park.
"The strong partnership between WPI and the WBDC enlivens both of our institutions, and our combined investment in Gateway Park has sparked a new era of innovation in Central Massachusetts," President Berkey said. "The WPI faculty members who work in this splendid facility are conducting important research that will bring about great discoveries and new economic opportunities for the region. As we like to say on our campus, what’s good for Worcester is good for WPI."
At full build out, Gateway Park will feature more than $250 million in private investment and approximately 750,000 square feet of new development including research and development, office space, and housing geared to both emerging and mature life sciences and bioengineering companies. To date, more than $80 million has been invested to revitalize the Gateway Park property including the major cleanup and renovation of the first building, constructing a parking garage, utility upgrades, and surface lots, and significant road improvements.
In September 2007, Gateway Park opened its first building, the WPI Life Sciences and Bioengineering Center. In addition to housing WPI's life science-related graduate research programs from four of its academic departments, the WPI Bioengineering Institute (BEI), and the university’s Corporate and Professional Education Division, the Life Sciences and Bioengineering Center is also home to Massachusetts Biomedical Initiatives, an incubator for biotechnology and medical device companies.
"Without WPI, there would not be a Gateway project," Forsberg said. "The university's $40 million investment in the WPI Life Sciences and Bioengineering Center is the linchpin of Gateway Park, a model of institutional citizenship and a much needed source of jobs and tax revenue for Worcester."