The establishment of Quinsigamond Community College’s new Health Care and Workforce Development Training Center in the former Telegram & Gazette newspaper plant on Franklin Street may be an economic boom to inner city merchants who cater to workers and other downtown visitors.
The center, when it fully opens in the fall of 2014, will bring about 580 health care students and 3,000 faculty members and staff to the Worcester Common area.
Those numbers don’t include the hundreds of other students who will be taking advantage of adult basic education and job development programs that are expected to start up on Franklin Street in January of 2014.
City and state officials, who attended a program this morning at which it was formally announced that QCC’s new downtown campus will be located at the old newspaper complex at 18 to 20 Franklin St., said that the expected influx of students and faculty will substantially boost the number of dollars brought into the downtown.
For example, according to school officials, the Central Massachusetts area served by QCC generates about $42.9 million in net added income each year due to the school’s payroll and operations spending.
“It truly is a beautiful day in the neighborhood,” said Stacey DeBoise Luster, the chairman of QCC’s board of trustees.
During the event, which was held in the T&G’s former advertising department, QCC officials also signed a 10 year lease with New Garden Park, the non-profit subsidiary of the Worcester Business Development Corp., which is retrofitting the complex for new uses.
The deal calls for the college to pay about $1.6 million annually for the first five years and about $1.7 million annually over the last five years of the pact.
The school will occupy the top floors of the 18-20 Franklin St. portion of the facility, as well as space in the newspaper’s former press operation and mailroom on Federal Street.
The WBDC bought the property for $300,000 and the newspaper moved to the former Mechanics Bank tower last July.
City Manager Michael V. O’Brien said QCC’s expansion to the downtown is one in a series of “successes” to rebuild Worcester’s core.
“Worcester has a new look and hope and it’s just outside these doors,” added Lt. Gov. Timothy P. Murray.
Gail Carberry, QCC’s chairman, said the idea of expanding downtown was floated about five years ago.
She said officials wanted QCC students to take advantage of programs offered at the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, as well as gaining some on the job experience at nearby St. Vincent Hospital.
Meanwhile, Craig Blais, the president and chief executive officer of the WBDC, said New Garden is actively seeking out other tenants while clean-up work at the building continues. He said the Lowell Repertory Theater is among the possible tenants.