Colleges in the Core

Youth, energy and ideas are a marvelous mix, and can be found on any college campus. Worcester is wise to try to draw more of that to downtown.

Craig L. Blais, president and chief executive officer of the Worcester Business Development Corp., last week called on local colleges and universities to become a larger part of revitalizing the city’s core.

He’s right. Now is the time for colleges to stake their claim for classroom space and/or housing options in a downtown that already has a solid MCPHS University presence, and will soon feature Quinsigamond Community College’s imprint. Becker College has leased student housing on Franklin Street.

We don’t need to take Urban Development 101 to appreciate that synergy in a city happens best in a central location where cultural, educational, recreational, civic, shopping and transportation meet.

Downtown has a way to go before it has self-sustaining vibrancy. But, along with CitySquare and the improvements to the Common, the college-student piece is already in the front of the class as the picture unfolds. More seats are open.

College students need sandwiches, supplies, coffee and diversions. The more students Worcester can attract for studying or living, the more all who work in, live in, or visit Worcester will benefit.

As Mr. Blais pointed out at WBDC’s annual meeting, an appealing city will help schools sell themselves to students. But no city is appealing whose heart, the downtown, isn’t beating with vitality.