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


Looking for Lowell's secret ingredient

Lowell receives a lot of visitors looking to learn from its achievements. They come to see the national park, the baseball stadium, artist's lofts, and the new Hamilton Canal project. But what they can't get a glimpse of is the collaborative leadership fundamental to the city's success. As a guest at the Lowell Plan's annual breakfast last week, I had a chance to view the secret ingredient up close.

Founded in 1980 to bring together leaders in business, government, education, and community development, the Lowell Plan has been essential to the community's unmatched ability to stay focused and doggedly pursue strategic priorities. Chancellor Meehan and President Cowan got the breakfast going by describing their innovative partnership to create greater alignment for students transferring between the university and the community college (see the entry below under education). Then city economic development officials got up and shared their plans to engage the city's immigrant entrepreneurs with a Working Cities Challenge application, opening yet another collaborative frontier with funding from a grant application designed specifically to spur cross-sector leadership. A pair of talented newcomers participating in the Lowell Plan's Public Matters leadership development program closed the meeting by sharing their resolve to absorb the city's infectious spirit and contribute positively to Greater Lowell's future.

Many Gateway Cities are working to set a stable leadership table that can steward their vision for the long-term as the Lowell Plan has done. With strong civic leadership and the tools an Act to Promote Transformative Redevelopment would provide, replicating Lowell's success is eminently achievable.

- Ben Forman




Ben Forman, executive director of MassINC's Gateway Cities Innovation Institute, wrote an op-ed highlighting a bill that would pump redevelopment money into Gateway Cities to rehab aging housing and industrial buildings in an effort to reboot the economies in those struggling urban areas.


The Fall River City Council calls on Mayor Will Flanagan to appoint a director of tourism, calling the industry critical to the city's future.


A large industrial building in Lowell was purchased for $4 million by Calare Properties Inc.  The building is home to M/A-Com Technology Solutions.


The state has targeted Quincy District Court for long-needed improvements but hasn't yet got on board with the city's proposal to move it to a planned redevelopment of the Quincy Center T station. 



The Lowell School Committee is coming up with a $450,000 plan to keep class sizes in check at the kindergarten level, the Sun reports.


Fall River officials have formed a task force to try to reduce the rate of chronic absenteeism in the city's schools, where 45 percent of high school students and 30 percent of kindergartners were chronically absent.


Among the $7.5 million in competitive grants awarded this week to community colleges and/or state colleges and universities were a number of Gateway city awards.  Springfield Technical Community College received a $122,099 state grant to develop strategies for improving the academic performance of Hispanic students.  Community colleges in Greenfield, Holyoke, and Pittsfield will share in $239,334 grant to improve learning in science, technology, and math. Middlesex Community College was also awarded two new grants, from the Department of Higher Education program, including a $348,543 Lowell Consortium grant with UMass Lowell to better facilitate student transfer between the two institutions. The grants are part of Vision Project Performance Incentive Fund grants announced Monday at Roxbury Community College. 




Local Lowell organization, Mills City Grows, celebrated its two-year anniversary this week.  The non-profit is focused on promoting sustainable, local farming, and gives locals a chance to rent a small plot to grow their own diverse array of fruits and vegetables.


Haverhill's curbside recycling program has raised the city $150,000 as participation increases to 82% of Haverhill households.




A new Futures Collegiate Baseball League team, yet to be named, will play in Worcester next year at the College of the Holy Cross. Team owner John S. Creedon and other city officials say the new team is an inexpensive way to establish better relationships with local businesses, attract local college students, and bring the community together.




In Brockton, it doesn't matter who the candidate is, everybody gets to hang campaign signs on the fence around the parking lot for George's Cafe, owned by former City Councilor Charles Tartaglia.


In Holyoke, incumbent mayor Alex Morse won the preliminary election by just 3 percentage points over the second place finisher, businessman Jeffrey Stanek. The two will now proceed to the general election on November 5th.  




Voters in Leominster approved a casino proposal last week, 5,235 to 3,306, allowing Cordish Companies to move forward to a final application for a slots-only casino license. Worcester Telegram & Gazette columnist George Burns comments on why "Leominster makes slots of sense."




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