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CareerWorks is a big boost for downtown

The University of Massachusetts is not the first school of higher learning to hold classes in downtown Brockton, but it may be one of the most significant.

UMass announced last week it was going to move its new Center for Professional development and CareerWorks to the Rockland Trust building on School Street. More important, the move will allow for a significant expansion of the school's mission in Brockton, with the focus on eventually developing a full UMass satellite campus.

That would be a major step forward for Brockton and for the downtown area in particular. CareerWorks, which has been located in smaller offices on Centre Street, is a job placement and training center, a "one-stop career center." It has served more than 3,500 workers and 300 businesses since opening. In its expanded role, it may eventually offer associate and bachelor's degrees, television and Internet courses and other programs limited only by demand. Mayor John T. Yunits Jr. said he expects the facility to bring thousands of people to the city's center, which will create a ripple effect for the local economy.

Brockton and the region already have a wealth of educational facilities, but nothing in the downtown area like what is now in the planning stages. The UMass center will not only enhance Brockton's reputation for progress, but will create many opportunities for workers seeking to upgrade their career paths.

It became clear long ago that downtown will never again be the retail business district it was two generations ago. The move to develop a municipal and governmental center is going strong. Some upscale housing plans are in the works and old buildings are being renovated monthly.

The expansion of the CareerWorks center is another major step forward for downtown Brockton. It represents state officials' faith in the area and the realization that there are many people in the city who need and want the educational services the center can provide. The development plans will unfold over the next few years and there is no reason why a full urban UMass campus cannot be created by the end of the decade.

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