The Gateway Cities Journal
News and information for leaders who care about Gateway Cities


Funding for Economic Development and the Arts


As independent, public organizations and partners in the Cultural Facilities Fund (CFF), MassDevelopment and the Massachusetts Cultural Council (MCC) have strong and successful track records of investment in Gateway Cities. But the Beacon Hill budget process threatens the ability of these two entities to continue their work effectively.


Co-administered by MCC and MassDevelopment, the CFF supports capital projects at cultural institutions since 2007.  In 2013 alone, one dozen Gateway City projects in Fall River, Holyoke, Lynn, Springfield, Taunton, Westfield, and Worcester received $959,581 in grants from the Fund to support sorely needed physical plant upgrades.  Governor Patrick's capital budget tripled CFF funding, and both organizations will in March review applications for the next round of CFF grants.


MCC is a state agency that supports the nonprofit cultural sector to improve the quality of life for residents and contribute to the vitality of our communities. This year MCC will invest nearly $2 million in Gateway Cities through direct grants to anchor nonprofit cultural organizations like the New Bedford Whaling Museum, Essex Art Center in Lawrence, and Springfield Symphony Hall; economic development partnerships such as the Cultural Organization of Lowell and Cultural Pittsfield; and arts education in sites like RAW Art Works in Lynn & Community Music School of Springfield that help at-risk adolescents build skills and confidence through creativity.


MCC has asked the Legislature to increase its appropriation to $16 million for the coming fiscal year to provide the resources and support needed to build more connected communities and a vibrant, thriving economy across the Commonwealth.


MassDevelopment is the Commonwealth's self-supporting finance and redevelopment authority and has made loans totaling more than $43 million to 45 projects in Gateway Cities through its Gateway Cities discounted interest rate loan program.  On the real-estate side, MassDevelopment manages major developments in Springfield (1550 Main Street) and Taunton (Myles Standish Park Phase II) complemented by ongoing technical-assistance work in Fall River, Lawrence, Haverhill, Holyoke, Pittsfield, and Westfield.


The state budget for the last four years has required MassDevelopment to contribute $3 million annually ($12 million in total) to the Massachusetts Cultural Council to avoid further cuts to MCC, whose budget is less than half of what it was in 2002.  The $12 million helped MCC avoid deep cuts to grants for nonprofit organizations, communities, school and youth programs, during the state's latest fiscal crisis. But it comes directly from MassDevelopment's operating revenues. As such, it seriously impacts both the on-going financial sustainability of MassDevelopment as well as its capacity to make loans to small businesses and nonprofit organizations, and to help communities plan and implement revitalization projects.


Gateway City supporters of the Massachusetts Cultural Council, MassDevelopment, and the Cultural Facilities Fund should join together as we have to urge the Commonwealth fund the Massachusetts Cultural Council adequately and do so with no contribution from MassDevelopment.


-- Marty Jones, President and CEO, MassDevelopment

   Anita Walker, Executive Director, Massachusetts Cultural Council





At an event marking the release of new MassINC criminal justice survey research, Governor Patrick calls for major corrections reforms, including reinstatement of the Sentencing Commission and agreements with five sheriffs to transfer state inmates nearing the end of their prison terms to pre-release county facilities.




Thanks to the Taunton Daily Gazette, the New Bedford Standard Times, the Fall River Herald News, the Worcester T&G, and the Lynn Item for running our op-ed, co-written with The Immigrant Learning Center, on promoting immigrant entrepreneurship in Gateway Cities.


MassDevelopment posts a job opening for "Director of Transformative Development" to assist with projects in Gateway Cities.


Quincy gets tough with Street-Works in attempt to spur construction on the major downtown redevelopment project.


The Haverhill city council debates the costs and benefits of allowing first floor housing in downtown buildings, where condos and apartments had previously been permitted only above street level.


The Eagle-Tribune reports on Lawrence CommunityWorks' latest housing projects and their long-term effort to increase homeownership throughout the city.




The Joint Committee on Tourism, Arts, and Cultural Development holds a public hearing on February 24th at the Boott Cotton Mills Events Center in Lowell.


Afghan artists bring "protest graffiti" to the Worcester Center for Crafts.


A downtown art gallery in Fall River is set to re-open soon but is seeking $10,000 in donations. The gallery closed in November after losing sponsorship from the owner of the Brayton Point Power Plant. It's being reopened by the city's economic development office.


The Chicopee Cultural Council awarded 43 grants to local concerts, workshops, and art shows.




The Joint Committee on Ways and Means holds a public hearing on the governor's proposed FY15 education budget at UMass Amherst on February 25th.


In Attleboro, school transportation costs are on the rise, driven by increases in the cost of transportation homeless students and students with special transportation needs.


Lowell underfunded the school system by $3.8 million dollars for fiscal 2013. Although this shortfall is within the 5 percent allowed by law, Lowell risks losing its state Chapter 70 funds if it does not make up the difference in its FY 2014 budget.


In Lawrence, Mayor Daniel Rivera visited a local early education center where the teachers and young students communicated to the Mayor what they hoped to see him accomplish for community schools.


The State's Education Commissioner has recommended the creation of an additional charter school in Fall River and Springfield as well as a second virtual school in Dedham.


At an event in Lawrence, Gov. Patrick's announced more than $3 million in grants aimed at closing the achievement gap in Gateway City schools by providing English language instruction and career guidance for high school students.


Assumption College in Worcester is freezing tuition rates for incoming freshman to make budgeting for college easier and more affordable for students' families.


The New Bedford school superintendent is seeking $4.6 million more than the state requires the city to spend in an effort to push reforms in the struggling school system.




The Massachusetts Department of Transportation Highway Division held a public hearing on the Bradford Rail Trail, a project which Haverhill Mayor James Fiorentini says will transform the city's riverfront.


The Pittsfield City Council unanimously approved $1 million in incentives to entice a company building new Red and Orange Line cars for the MBTA to the city.


Mayor Jon Mitchell has proposed that the fish houses be asked to pitch in to fund a bus route for immigrant workers, many of whom do not have driver's licenses, along Herman Melville Boulevard in New Bedford.




The Conservation Law Foundation reaches a settlement with Footprint Power over the company's plans to build a new gas-fired power plant in Salem.


The Leominster Housing Authority writes a letter to the editor of The Boston Globe defending the benefits of solar energy for Leominster and the Commonwealth.




For a full list of Massachusetts Gateway Cities, click here. The Gateway Cities Journal is a weekly news publication of MassINC. If you would like to unsubscribe to The Journal but would still like to hear from MassINC, please let us know. If you are not yet on our list and would like to sign up, click here. To contribute news or comments, please email MassINC.



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