How MassDevelopment Helps Gateway Cities Maximize Their Strengths
March 27, 2016 : Banker & Tradesman, by Marty Jones
Agency Supports Projects In Holyoke, Lynn And Taunton
In real estate and economic development, we often use words like “transformative, sustainable and revitalization” to describe our work so often they can lose their meaning in our enthusiastic usage. When falling into predictable patterns, I return to the source material – easy enough with a wealth of dictionary apps at our fingertips – and parse the definition to remember what we hope to accomplish.
At MassDevelopment, we pride ourselves on partnering with organizations locally and statewide, especially in Gateway Cities. For that reason, the word of the day is “collaboration.” According to the Oxford English Dictionary, collaboration is “the action of working with someone to produce or create something.”
Words on a page are nice, but how does collaboration translate into meaningful improvements to the economic conditions in the commonwealth’s Gateway Cities?
The Brownfields Redevelopment Fund spurs actions on contaminated parcels around the commonwealth and has been particularly effective in Gateway Cities. In December, the MassDevelopment board of directors approved up to $2 million to remediate the former Parsons Paper site in Holyoke. This cleanup will accommodate the expansion of Aegis Energy Services, a cogeneration systems designer and installer that abuts the property.
Aegis, a locally grown company, could have left the city if it could not secure this site. The company plans to expand its manufacturing, R&D and testing facilities, develop a renewable energy park including a solar array and potentially rebuild existing hydropower infrastructure.
Cleaning up and redeveloping this highly visible but burnt-out former factory site in downtown Holyoke will positively impact surrounding businesses, residences and the city’s Innovation District.
Holyoke has worked for 10 years to find a reuse plan and cleanup solution for the site, raising grant money in addition to setting aside funds from its own limited resources. This project illustrates the vital role played by the Brownfields Redevelopment Fund, which urgently needs recapitalization; we hope the Legislature will approve the provision in the Baker-Polito Administration’s economic-development bill that would make $75 million available over five years to revive the fund.
For the most effective cases, this part of our definition means several someones. In Lynn, MassDevelopment proudly participates as part of Gov. Charlie Baker’s Lynn Economic Advancement and Development Team, a working group of federal, state and local stakeholders to align economic development initiatives and coordinate community planning efforts in the city. Team members meet quarterly to focus on growing Lynn and capitalizing on the city’s waterfront and transportation assets.
MassDevelopment’s Transformative Development Initiative Fellow in Lynn, Joe Mulligan, has played a key role in focusing these and other partners on Lynn’s downtown action strategy, engaging staff from this group and the city’s TDI partnership to help the city realize its full potential.
‘Produce Or Create’
Since 2011, MassDevelopment has partnered with the Taunton Development Corp. to redevelop the former Paul A. Dever State School. Together, we created the nonprofit Taunton Development/MassDevelopment Corp. to steer this expansion of the successful Myles Standish Industrial Park, which has benefited from leadership at the state and city levels from Sen. Marc Pacheco and Taunton Mayor Thomas Hoye. The expansion has already attracted both established and emerging job creators: Sullivan Tire, Martignetti Cos. and the producers and creators at South Coast Innovator Labs, a makerspace for entrepreneurs and artisans. Martignetti Cos. recently was recognized as the Commercial Brokers Association’s Industrial Deal of the Year award for its purchase of the 115-acre parcel in the park. The $100 million, 680,000-square-foot facility will open in late 2016 and house 800 employees.
Collaboration has steadily increased over the past 20 years, a trend that should only continue thanks to the positive results from these and other projects in the commonwealth’s urban centers. In the coming months, MassDevelopment will soon place three new economic development fellows in Brockton, New Bedford and Pittsfield as part of our Transformative Development Initiative; welcome the opening of a revitalized Springfield’s Union Station, which has received more than $1.5 million from the Brownfields Redevelopment Fund; and pursue many more opportunity-creating collaborations in Gateway Cities.
Marty Jones is the president and CEO of MassDevelopment.