Byline: John J. Monahan
BOSTON - State officials hope that as many as 16,000 jobs will be created by casino development in the coming years, but the most immediate increase in job creation should come from $3.4 billion in state capital spending by next July to pay for new research centers and hospitals, campus improvements and new transportation projects in Central Massachusetts.
Almost half of the $44 million in state bond funds being allocated this year for investments in life sciences and biotechnology, $21.8 million, will go toward completion of the $400 million, 440,000-square-foot, Albert Sherman Center for life science research at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.
The state has also recently gained federal approval and will go out to bid Dec. 2 on contracts for the $140 million Route 9 replacement bridge over Lake Quinsigamond.
Other major capital allocations for Central Massachusetts projects in the current fiscal year include:
Another $65 million toward the $302 million 320-bed Worcester State Psychiatric Hospital off Belmont Street, which is supporting about 400 construction jobs as it is being built.
$700,000 for design of a new Health Science and Athletic Center at Worcester State University that will clear the way for construction of the $40 million to $50 million campus complex.
$127,000 to plan a new academic building at Quinsigamond Community College.
Lt. Gov. Timothy P. Murray said biotech industry investments have been developing thousands of jobs around Worcester since the 1980s. When the Sherman Center opens next year it will double the amount of research space at the medical school.
"The Sherman Center will lead to new jobs there, but also the kinds of research done there spins off to the biotech park expansion, bringing more of those types of life science, biotech and ancillary services," Mr. Murray said.
That in turn should further boost economic activity in the immediate vicinity, helping businesses like the restaurants on Shrewsbury Street, but also improve the draw for more life science companies in the region and surrounding towns, he said.
State capital grants are also being used to make street and infrastructure improvements for other major ongoing projects in the city that Mr. Murray said are all providing economic stimulus and a feeling that Worcester is well-positioned to grow out of what has been an extended post recession downturn.
"When you drive into Worcester now you see construction cranes...