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


Winning the future


The battle to prepare all students for the demands of the state's new economy has huge strategic ramifications. In the near future, three-quarters of the jobs in Massachusetts will require training beyond high school. But right now, fewer than one-in-four children raised in our Gateway Cities graduates high school and goes on to complete a post-secondary degree or credential. If this doesn't change dramatically and soon, we will feel the consequences. The good news is a solution is well within our reach.


Optimism comes from this week's release of high school graduation rate data. The four-year graduation rate for Gateway City students rose to 77 percent, a 1.6 percentage point increase from 2013.


Gateway City educators fought valiantly to produce these results. Holyoke, Springfield, and other districts with large gains implemented comprehensive, research-based dropout prevention initiatives with broad-based community support. Time-limited funding paid for many of these activities. As the dollars dry up and school districts face tighter budgets, the big question is how successful these cities will be in sustaining these efforts. However, if one thing is certain, it's that they produced large return on investment. With a net fiscal benefit to state and local governments of approximately $450,000 for each additional high school graduate, the 1.6 percentage point increase generates $127 million in net present value.  


An aging population will soon lead to shrinkage in the state's college-educated workforce for the first time in the Commonwealth's history. Massachusetts desperately needs Gateway Cities to keep finding new ways to help more of their students succeed. The 26 Gateway Cities are home to more than one-quarter of the state's school-age children. Students from these communities complete post-secondary degrees at less than half the rate of those living in other cities and towns in Massachusetts. If Gateway Cities can close this gap, it would go a long way toward solving the state's looming workforce challenge. It would also be a big step toward delivering on the promise of economic mobility central to our identity as a Commonwealth.


It is increasingly clear what we need to do and why. Finding the will to do it begins with Gateway Cities leaders rallying together around the cause.


- Ben Forman 



Housing & Economic Development


With housing prices increasing slightly across the state over the past year, GoLocalWorcester takes a look at the ten most expensive neighborhoods in Worcester.


The Chelsea Record captures well-wishes as City Manager Jay Ash departs to take on the role and new Secretary of Housing and Economic Development.


The Lynn City Council reviews zoning changes to spur housing construction, the Item reports.


Quincy is the latest community to win its appeal of the new controversial federal flood zone maps, which drew many more homeowners and businesses into the floodplain costing them thousands of dollars more in insurance premiums.


HUD releases $1.8 billion in grants to assist housing and homelessness programs, including more than $70 million for Massachusetts.


The Fiscal Policy Institute and Americas Society/Council of the Americas publishes a new report looking at immigrant ownership of Main Street businesses in Greater Boston.




The Republican reports on Springfield's rising graduation rate. The Telegram captures Worcester's progress and the Standard Times picks up on gains in New Bedford.


Holyoke Public Schools are at risk of a state takeover.


State officials in the South Coast are echoing a similar sentiment on charter schools. Before a discussion is had on raising the charter school cap, South Coast officials want to know how public schools will be improved first.


The Rennie Center lays out its education priorities in a new policy brief.


Creative Placemaking


Great new research from the San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank and the National Endowment for the Arts highlights the arts in communities and how the creative placemaking movement is gaining credibility with economic development leaders.




Lawrence Mayor Dan Rivera selects a Haverhill fire official as his new chief, the Eagle-Tribune reports.


Governing looks at interagency data sharing to improve economic development policy. Next City looks at the increasing use of private cell phone data for city planning.




MGM Springfield is looking at a 30-month timeline to complete the gaming facility.


New Bedford officials and KG Urban Enterprises, which is vying for the state's final casino license, have reached an agreement on a feasibility study on siting a casino on the waterfront.


Communities and People


WCVB highlights a young man from Fitchburg High School who came to US from Ghana and is now striving to make a difference in his community.



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