Gateway Cities have real competitive strengths, but tapping into them means addressing complex challenges in economic development, education, governance, housing, public safety, and transportation. In all of our communities, the same few leaders work day after day, attempting to tackle these problems. While we honor their tireless drive and many accomplishments, it is clear that our ability to generate renewal is bounded by fact that we simply don't have the bodies to respond adequately to all of the complex challenges we face. Finding ways to enhance our leadership capacity is central to the revitalization effort.
On that score, we made an important stride forward this month with the placement of the first crop of Transformative Development Initiative Fellows. Haverhill, Lynn, and Springfield now have talented new professionals helping to spearhead redevelopment efforts. These leaders bring fresh perspective to their host community, where they will immerse themselves for three-years, seeing the issues firsthand and rolling up their sleeves to do the work alongside others. The Gateway Cities Caucus is fighting to secure funds in the FY 16 budget to place fellows in all of our communities with burgeoning Transformative Development Districts.
As we think harder about how we build exceptional learning environments, the parallels to Transformative Development are clear. Improving Gateway City schools will take an infusion of state in investment in critical components like early education, just as Transformative Development will ultimately require a significant state capital commitment as buildable projects take shape. But having the ability to organize for effective new approaches and make the case that our communities are ready to leverage new state investment in education is half the battle.
The budget proposal advanced by the Building on What Works Coalition would provide Gateway Cities with greater capacity to replicate and scale evidence-based learning models. Just as it is critical that Transformative Development projects show how public subsidies stimulate private investment, Building on What Works grants would place us in a better position to convincingly demonstrate how our education efforts are providing long-term returns to the Commonwealth.
This week the Coalition released a white paper that carefully outlines how the budget proposal responds to an urgent need to help Gateway City educators maintain the momentum they have established over the past several years with federal grants that are drying up. While the Foundation Budget Review Commission takes a close look at funding equity and the debate continues over how to best prepare our disadvantaged students for an economy that requires more advanced skills, the Coalition is advancing an approach that will thoughtfully position Gateway Cities for long-term success.
Leaders looking to enhance the capacity of their communities to innovate in education should give the white paper a careful read and think about how they can help build support for this strategic approach in their city and beyond.
Mayor Kim Driscoll, City of Salem
Mayor Lisa Wong, City of Fitchburg
Housing & Economic Development
The Eagle Tribune profiles Noah Koretz, Haverhill's new Transformative Development Fellow.
Three new developers - two with local ties and one from Russia - have joined the effort to reboot the stalled $1.6 billion redevelopment of downtown Quincy, the Patriot Ledger reports.
Fitchburg appoints Mary Jo Bohart as the city's new economic-development director, filling a seat that has been vacant since last June.
The Sentinel & Enterprise report's on success at the Fitchburg Art Museum.
The Springfield Housing Authority creates a Participant Services Department to foster independence from public assistance.
The Salem News looks at how the Salem State University Assistance Corp can buy and sell property without having to comply with state bidding laws.
Chicopee announces a new program to foster owner-occupied housing in three-family homes in the city's poorest neighborhoods.
Patriot Care Corp. finalizes a deal for a building in Lowell where it plans to grow and package medical marijuana.
The New England Council issues a report on advanced manufacturing in New England, calling for a multi-state effort to revitalize industry in the region.
Pittsfield moves to plug a nearly $2 million school budget deficit.
New Bedford school administrators look for money to train and hire 35 English as a second language teachers, more than double the current number.
A Globe editorial says the state should put the struggling Holyoke school district in receivership. At a community meeting, Superintendent Sergio Paez asks parents to speak out in favor of keeping control of the district in the hands of local leadership.
Brockton and Leominster join a dozen other Gateway Cities to participate in a three-year project aimed at building capacity to evaluate programs to prepare students for college and careers. Led by MassINC, BU, and the Rennie Center, each district will be paired with an academic researcher.
The Telegram looks at the successful turnaround of Union Hill School in Worcester.
Fitchburg State University creates a new five-year criminal-justice program, designed so that students come out with a bachelor's degree, a master's degree, and a police-academy training certificate - and graduate ready to serve on the police force.
A fresh look at outcomes from Head Start from MDRC finds the program generates particularly strong increases in cognitive abilities in the children with limited English. The study also found that the effect of participation on socio-emotional outcomes varies substantially across Head Start centers.
Another new MDRC report reviews successful programs to prepare students for both postsecondary education and the workforce, with recommendations on where to direct future investments.
The Baker administration refuses to issue a key environmental permit to Wynn Resorts for its proposed Everett casino. Most of the problems are fixable, but resolving traffic issues with the city of Boston is not going to be easy.
Brockton officials ask the state Gaming Commission to speed up their evaluation of the competing casino proposals in Southeastern Massachusetts.
Quincy partners with the Metropolitan Area Planning Council and Boston University to prepare the city for climate change.
Communities & People
Worcester calls in representatives of the US Department of Justice to help host a community dialogue on race.
Beth Bresnahan, the executive director of the Massachusetts Lottery, steps down to become CEO of the Daily Item in Lynn.
Fall River Mayor Sam Sutter reflects on his first 100 days in office, saying it was like riding a bicycle he was trying to build at the same time.