Gateway Cities tour reveals shared opportunities
We were honored this week to host in Fall River the fourth installment of the Massachusetts Gateway Cities Legislative Caucus's tour, which will cover all 26 of the Commonwealth's designated Gateway Cities over the next year. Members of the Caucus were joined by an array of stakeholders from many Gateway Communities as we visited several key Fall River locations that highlight the successes and challenges facing Fall River and Gateway Cities in general.
We felt it was important to include several sites that showcase how the greater Fall River community is changing for the better and its potential to become a powerful economic engine for the South Coast of Massachusetts.
Our first stop was to the New England Shirt Company at Flint Mills. There the Caucus was introduced to CEO Robert Kidder, who eloquently described the many challenges business face in bringing back manufacturing jobs to our Gateway Cities. His goal is to bring the former economic might of the textile industry back to Flint Mills, which once employed 900 workers. Challenges now include workforce development gaps, competition from cheaper products produced in developing countries, and anti-growth policies on both the state and federal level.
Next, we visited an important redevelopment project that's putting a restaurant and event space in a formerly abandoned church in the Rock Street area, as well as Battleship Cove & Commonwealth Landing, the renovated factory on Davol Street, and several new companies in our revitalized Industrial Park.
At each of these locations, community representatives implored the Caucus to continue to find legislative remedies so that they, the individuals at ground zero fighting to transform our Gateway Cities, have the economic tools they need to be successful. Their hard work and commitment is the key to turning these communities around; we applaud their resolve to work in Fall River and other vital urban landscapes across the Commonwealth.
The goal of our Caucus tour is to enhance the dialogue in the State Legislature surrounding the important issues faced by the Commonwealth's Gateway Cities and, as legislators, to learn more about the unique circumstances each city faces. We felt we succeeded in communicating to our fellow Caucus members the complicated but bright situation we are facing in Fall River. We also look forward to working with the Caucus as we continue our tour and the crucial work at the Statehouse to overcome the challenges we face in Fall River and the Commonwealth.
Representative Paul Schmid III
State Senator Michael Rodrigues
State Representative Alan Silvia
Several South Coast lawmakers toured the Fall River garment district to see and hear the impact that shifting jobs and manufacturing overseas has had on the state's Gateway Cities. Legislators stopped in at The New England Shirt Company. The plant, which employs 71 people and produces 1,500 shirts each week, represents a small resurgence of the city's once booming textile industry.
A Next City piece describes how Massachusetts Gateway Cities are working together on economic development and how House Bill 311, with its focus on public support to spur private investment, "has the opportunity to buoy Gateway Cities and pump up job creation."
Also on House Bill 311, MassINC's guest opinion in the Herald-News discusses the importance of transformative redevelopment in Gateway Cities to both local towns and the entire Commonwealth.
U.S. Rep. Joe Kennedy III is pushing national legislation to revitalize manufacturing and to "better support the efforts of our workforce, businesses, and entrepreneurs on the ground." In a recent piece in the Herald-News, Kennedy described the bill as an enormous opportunity for Gateway Cities.
Worcester prepares to open a park on land on Indian Lake that the municipality leased from the Massachusetts Department of Transportation for $10 for 99 years, the Telegram & Gazette reports.
Also in Worcester, City Manager Michael V. O'Brien wants to revive efforts to bring a hotel to CitySquare after earlier hotel plans faded last spring along with the slots parlor proposal for the former Wyman-Gordon site. O'Brien has asked for an amendment to the CitySquare "Declaration of Uses," which currently allows only office, housing, entertainment and accessory retail uses.
MassINC has announced the 2013 Gateway City Innovators awardees, five individuals and two organizations that made a transformative impact on their communities this year. They will be honored at the first annual Gateway Cities Innovation Institute Luncheon on Nov. 12.
The Young Professionals of Greater Lowell's 8th Annual Business Leadership Forum will be held this Thursday, Sept. 19 at the Lowell Memorial Auditorium. Rich Doyle, co-founder of the successful Harpoon Brewery in Boston, will be the keynote speaker.
As Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley jumped into her gubernatorial campaign with a tour through Brockton, Fall River, New Bedford and other cities, she called for extending the school day. "We're going to take a look at everything" to pay for the program, Coakley said, including public-private partnerships.
Massachusetts Secretary of Education Matthew Malone paid a visit to the Doran Community School in Fall River to welcome students and get a glimpse of the newly-adopted K-8 model, which is also making its way into other Gateway Cities.
The state takeover of the Lawrence schools is having a positive impact, as standardized test scores due out later this week are expected to be up, CommonWealth reports.
The New Bedford Standard Times reports of anticipation and anxiety on the part of school officials and local officials awaiting the release of MCAS scores.
Gateway Cities are on the rise as places that statewide candidates need to take seriously. Quoting CommonWealth magazine's 2012 analysis of Sen. Elizabeth Warren's success in Gateway Cities, Will Richmond blogs in the Herald-News about gubernatorial candidate Martha Coakley's opening campaign swing through Fall River and New Bedford.
A number of Gateway City preliminary mayoral elections have returned incumbents who will now face off with their lead challenger, including the mayor of Lawrence, William Lantigua, CommonWealth reports.
Lynn Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy handily beat City Council President Timothy Phelan in an election that saw only 16.6 percent of registered voters turn out, the Item reports. (Voters in Lynn also gave strong backing to building a new Marshall Middle School.) Two-term Brockton Mayor Linda Balzotti will face off against School Committee member William Carpenter after the two combined for 80 percent of the vote in the four-person preliminary.
In Haverhill, home values have jumped 25 percent in the first seven months of this year compared to last year, the Eagle-Tribune reports.
In another sign of Haverhill's rebounding local housing market, a distressed and long-vacant building in the Mount Washington neighborhood will be remodeled by a private developer into a seven-unit apartment complex. According to the Eagle-Tribune, the developer is "open to reserving some of the apartments to low-income renters," but hopes to retain the option of converting the units to for-sale condominiums in the future.
New Bedford officials held a public meeting to get feedback on a proposed cultural district for the downtown area.
The Herald-News reports the Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technology passed two tribal gambling bills that will now be making their way to the House and Senate. The bills cover issues regarding the building of a $500 million casino in Taunton. If the compact passes at a federal level, it will resolve the land sovereignty issues that are keeping the casino from being built.
For a full list of Massachusetts Gateway Cities, click here.
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