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City receives $60K to help downtown small businesses

May 11, 2017 : Eagle-Tribune, by Peter Francis

Lt. Gov. Polito visits local coffee shop to announce grants

HAVERHILL — More state money is coming to the downtown.

Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito swung through Battle Grounds Coffee on Wednesday to present two grants totaling $60,000 to help small businesses in the city’s Transformative Development District.

The grants, awarded through MassDevelopment — the state’s economic development wing, are part of a $330,000 package being divvied up among several medium-sized, post-industrial communities around the state commonly referred to as “Gateway” cities.

These grants will come in the form of $25,000 to help the city with its ongoing facade improvement program for businesses in the TDI District downtown and $35,000 that will provide seed money for small businesses.

Both grants have received matches of $25,000 and $8,750, respectively.

As part of the state’s Small Business Month efforts, Polito’s appearance at Battle Grounds Coffee preceded a visit to Salisbury Beach’s boardwalk Wednesday night.

While in Haverhill, the lieutenant governor spoke enthusiastically of the business at 39 Washington St., opened by Dana and Sal DeFranco last year and built from the ground up over the course of several months with the help of Noah Koretz.

Koretz is a MassDevelopment fellow who has worked with the city for more than a year to revitalize its downtown.

Koretz told people inside the 1,500-square-foot cafe that the DeFrancos, who opened Battle Grounds days after they married, is a “community hub.” He said the building, owned by Traggorth Companies of Boston, is a model for what the Transformative Development District is all about.

Located above Battle Grounds are 18 market-rate apartments, which Dave Traggorth of Traggorth Companies said are at 100 percent occupancy.
Numerous state and local officials packed into the coffee shop, most notably MassDevelopment CEO Marty Jones, Mayor James Fiorentini and State Reps. Brian Dempsey and Diana DiZoglio.

City Councilors Melinda Barrett, Colin LePage and Joseph Bevilacqua, and School Committee member Paul Magliochetti were also in attendance. 

After the money was awarded, Polito, a Shrewsbury Republican, praised the progress made by Haverhill and commended the efforts of the city’s leaders and state delegation, led by Dempsey.

Dempsey, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, and Polito have known each other since they were colleagues in the House.

“Haverhill has made incredible progress, in part because they have a leadership team with a vision and a plan for the city,” Polito said. “That has been able to attract private investment, particularly in housing for rental and ownership in the downtown.”

Polito added that the density of people flocking to the city’s downtown is providing new opportunities for small businesses such as Battle Grounds to start and prosper. 

“This is economic development in and of itself,” the lieutenant governor said. “And it’s a model we’re trying to replicate in other Gateway cities.

“We can use Haverhill as an example ... to show it’s possible for other urban downtowns,” Polito added.