Central Massachusetts benefits from its close proximity to major metropolitan areas in three New England states. Six million people living in Boston, Providence, Springfield, and Hartford live within a one hour drive of Central Massachusetts, and 9.2 million people live within 75 miles of Worcester. These markets are easily accessible due to the region's extensive transportation system.
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A network of highways, freight railroad lines, and access to deep-water ports in Rhode Island and the West coast of the United States through the "Port of Worcester" intermodal facility make Central Massachusetts an ideal location for distributive activities. The Route 2 corridor in the north provides convenient access from Boston to Fitchburg, the second largest city of the central region, and to the nearby cities of Leominster and Gardner. The Massachusetts Turnpike Interchange at Route 146 in Millbury connects the Blackstone Valley and Worcester to all of New England. Ground transportation services are complemented by domestic air service from Worcester Regional Airport's recently expanded facility and from Boston , Providence, and Hartford international airports which are within a one hour drive of Worcester.
Several facilities which encourage and facilitate the transfer of research technology to commercial applications are located in Central Massachusetts. These include the Center for Technology Commercialization, sponsored by NASA; the Technology Commercialization Center, established by the Massachusetts Biomedical Initiatives, and the New England Regional Biotechnology Transfer Center, at the Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine. In addition, partnerships with regional educational institutions, such as the University of Massachusetts Medical School and Worcester Foundation for Biomedical Research, have bolstered the region's world class health services and biotechnology industries.
Central Massachusetts benefits from a large pool of skilled labor in key manufacturing industries and in the growing health care and biotechnology sectors. Industrial machinery and equipment and fabricated metal products account for one-third of the manufacturing employment in the region. The United States Plastics Industry got its start in Leominster in the early 1930's, and Leominster continues to be the plastics center of the northeastern United States, with over 100 manufacturing firms and support businesses. Health and allied services make up more that one-third of the employment in service industries. The health service sector is supported by many of the region's higher education programs which offer opportunities to educate and train students for work in the health and biotech industries.