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Baker-Polito Administration Expands Transformative Development Initiative for Gateway Cities

$23.7 Million Announcement Awards Full-Time Professionals, Technical Assistance & Grant Opportunities to Advance Economic Development

February 15, 2022

Kelsey Schiller, 617-694-9695 

Michael Verseckes

NEW BEDFORD — Today, the Baker-Polito Administration announced a historic expansion of the Transformative Development Initiative (TDI), a MassDevelopment program for Gateway Cities designed to accelerate economic growth within focused districts. The announcement includes the selection of 12 new districts in Attleboro, Barnstable (Hyannis), Holyoke, Lawrence, Lowell, Lynn, New Bedford, Pittsfield, Revere, Springfield, Taunton, and Worcester, and the extension of an existing district in Fall River. All districts will be awarded TDI fellows – MassDevelopment employees who will provide on-the-ground economic development expertise and collaborative leadership in these cities – and will have access to a range of tools to help accelerate development, including technical assistance, grants to support local market development and arts and cultural infrastructure, collaborative workshops, resources, events, and more. The announcement more than doubles the size of the program, which currently operates TDI districts in five Gateway Cities, and represents a $23.7 million investment in Gateway Cities over three years.
Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito, Housing and Economic Development Secretary Mike Kennealy, and MassDevelopment President and CEO Dan Rivera joined New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell and members of the New Bedford legislative delegation to make the announcement at Hatch Street Studios in New Bedford, then joined Taunton Mayor Shaunna O’Connell and members of the Taunton legislative delegation for a walking tour of the new Taunton TDI district.
“Gateway Cities are home to one-of-a-kind businesses, institutions, and communities that anchor regional economies across the Commonwealth,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “Our Administration was proud to launch MassDevelopment’s Transformative Development Initiative in 2015 as a mechanism for stimulating economic growth, and we’re excited to now expand this proven program’s reach in more than a dozen cities.”
“I was glad to join state and local officials in New Bedford and Taunton to announce an expansion of MassDevelopment’s Transformative Development Initiative,” said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito. “Designation as a TDI District will allow these 13 Gateway City neighborhoods the access to financial, organizational, and technical resources that can help create thriving local economies.”
MassDevelopment’s Transformative Development Initiative works with cross-sector partnerships in targeted commercial districts in Gateway Cities in order to engage community members, implement local economic development initiatives, and spur further public and private investment. Since 2015, MassDevelopment has invested $20 million in TDI districts through tools such as technical assistance, real estate investments, grant programs, and fellows who work in the districts. That investment has directly influenced over $100.2 million in public and private investments in the districts, and assisted an additional $219.9 million.
“By developing coalitions of local public, private, and nonprofit partners to make progress toward shared neighborhood goals, MassDevelopment’s Transformative Development Initiative has become a proven model for accelerating economic development in Gateway Cities across Massachusetts,” said Housing and Economic Development Secretary Mike Kennealy, who serves as chair of MassDevelopment’s Board of Directors. “This collaborative, street-level approach engages community members to advance small businesses, activate public spaces, rethink vacant properties, and more.”
“From new storefront signage and district branding efforts, to planning studies and vacant building activation, our Transformative Development Initiative helps Gateway City partners tackle projects that advance neighborhood goals, stimulate economic activity, and build momentum for future investment,” said MassDevelopment President and CEO Dan Rivera. “TDI provides a critical benefit to our urban neighborhoods, and we’re grateful for the support of the Baker-Polito Administration and Legislature as we continue to expand its impact across the Commonwealth.”
TDI concentrates economic development activities, resources, and investments within designated neighborhood areas, known as “TDI districts,” for a term of two to four years. TDI districts are mixed-use with a commercial component, compact – with a five-minute walking radius or less – and are defined by a walkable, dense physical environment. The 12 new districts in Attleboro (Downtown), Barnstable (Hyannis East End), Holyoke (South High), Lawrence (Broadway/Essex), Lowell (Upper Merrimack Street), Lynn (Union Street), New Bedford (Acushnet Ave/North End), Pittsfield (Downtown), Revere (Shirley Avenue), Springfield (Mason Square), Taunton (Whittenton District), and Worcester (Pleasant Street) will be active for a term of three years, and the existing district in Fall River (South Main) will also be extended for a term of three years.
MassDevelopment has previously designated 16 TDI districts across the Commonwealth, and has provided other support through the program in five additional cities. Existing districts in Chicopee, Fitchburg, Lawrence, and Worcester will graduate from the program in June 2022.
“MassDevelopment has been a key partner in the economic and cultural renaissance in our city,” said Senator Mark Montigny, who has championed many recent economic development projects in New Bedford including the arts and cultural renaissance, Route 18 redevelopment, and ongoing improvements to State Pier. “This additional focus on the North End will help us ensure that our entire community enjoys direct benefits from these investments, and I thank the Baker-Polito Administration for their continued support.”
“There is no question that investments in our Gateway Cities like MassDevelopment’s Transformative Development Initiative yield positive economic and community growth where it is needed most,” said Representative Christopher Hendricks. “It is my honor to represent the Near North community of New Bedford and I look forward to working with State officials to maximize the impact of this important designation.”
“I’m grateful that MassDevelopment has established a TDI District along The Ave, which for decades has been the physical manifestation of New Bedford’s ethnic melting pot,” said New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell. “The designation will help energize existing small businesses, bring new ones to life, and support long-term neighborhood vitality.”
Defined by the Massachusetts General Laws, Gateway Cities are small to midsized cities in Massachusetts (population of between 35,000 and 250,000) that anchor regional economies around the state, with below state average household incomes and educational attainment rates. The Legislature defines 26 Gateway Cities in Massachusetts, including Attleboro, Barnstable, Brockton, Chelsea, Chicopee, Everett, Fall River, Fitchburg, Haverhill, Holyoke, Lawrence, Leominster, Lowell, Lynn, Malden, Methuen, New Bedford, Peabody, Pittsfield, Quincy, Revere, Salem, Springfield, Taunton, Westfield, and Worcester.
MassDevelopment, the state’s development finance agency and land bank, works with businesses, nonprofits, banks, and communities to stimulate economic growth across the Commonwealth. During FY2021, MassDevelopment financed or managed 416 projects generating investment of more than $1.86 billion in the Massachusetts economy. These projects are estimated to create or support 6,578 jobs and build or preserve 1,909 housing units.