Downtown Worcester Business Improvement District Prioritizes Pandemic Recovery in the Downtown Community
For Immediate Release: December 10, 2021
Media Contact:
Evelyn Darling, Executive Director                                     
508-622-3050 x1,

WORCESTER, MA – The Downtown Worcester Business Improvement District (BID), in partnership with the City of Worcester, is pleased to announce the findings from its participation in the Massachusetts Local Rapid Recovery Plan (LRRP) Program. This program, administered through the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development’s Massachusetts Downtown Initiative (MDI), seeks to create action-oriented community plans designed to respond immediately to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on all facets of downtown economies.

In March 2021, the City of Worcester was one of 124 communities throughout the Commonwealth to receive an LRRP technical assistance grant to explore solutions and identify projects to bolster revitalization efforts in Downtown Worcester, specifically as the community continues to emerge from the pandemic. As the entity overseeing this program within the City of Worcester, the BID worked with a consultant team from the global design firm Stantec and other key community stakeholders over a six-month period to create a comprehensive set of priorities and projects designed to help mitigate the effects of COVID-19 within Downtown Worcester.

“The devastating and profound impacts of COVID-19 are evident in many facets of our Downtown community. The BID is grateful to the MDI program for providing the resources to undertake such a comprehensive approach to overcoming these challenges and setting our Downtown on a path towards recovery,” said Evelyn Darling, Executive Director of the BID. “The pandemic has further strengthened the notion of partnership in both the public and private realm, and the BID is fortunate to have such a strong alliance with the City of Worcester to make this economic recovery a reality.”

The BID and its consultant team conducted outreach efforts, including community surveys, smaller stakeholder meetings, and larger community gatherings, as well as compiled a significant amount of data to support the findings. Through this process, the BID received over 100 responses from community members on their key priorities, as well as helpful feedback from property owners and business owners throughout the Business Improvement District. Based upon this outreach, key priorities were identified in both the public realm and private realm, as well as action items to assist in both tenant outreach and administrative capacity. These priorities include:

  • Enhancing lighting on streets and buildings within the District,

  • Developing a targeted tenant recruitment strategy to address vacant storefronts,

  • Building upon existing wayfinding programs to enhance “gateway” experiences between Downtown Worcester and surrounding neighborhoods,

  • Expanding outdoor dining opportunities within the District,

  • Addressing ongoing community issues to improve the downtown visitor experience.
As a result of the LRRP program, the BID and the City of Worcester now have the research, specific action-oriented plans, and identification of potential funding strategies to assist in the implementation of these key priorities. These action plans focus on short-term recovery efforts but also look to address medium- and long-term recovery strategies that will further support the creation of an economically resilient Downtown.

“As we continue to respond to the pandemic and its consequences, it’s vitally important to collaborate with our partners on the ground such as the Downtown Worcester Business Improvement District on targeted strategies for recovery and sustainability,” said City Manager Edward M. Augustus, Jr. “We are grateful for grant opportunities like that of the Massachusetts Rapid Recovery Plan Program which allows the City to supplement recovery efforts in a deliberate and tactical way.”

To read the Downtown Worcester Rapid Recovery Plan and learn more about the project priorities, please visit HERE

About Downtown Worcester Business Improvement District
Downtown Worcester Business Improvement District is a non-profit organization established in 2018 to sustain momentum in the heart of Downtown Worcester. The result of a comprehensive community-based effort, the organization represents the owners of 140 properties and seeks to create a unique sense of place through enhanced investment and development, establishing and sustaining a vibrant, welcoming, and economically viable district for all.