Muni Matters: One Dozen Cities Eyed for Transformational Development

February 16, 2022 : State House News Service, by Colin A. Young

Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito announced an expansion Tuesday of the state program that aims to speed up private investment and development in specific areas of Gateway Cities, more than doubling the size of the Transformative Development Initiative and pumping $23.7 million into it. Along with Housing and Economic Development Secretary Mike Kennealy, and MassDevelopment President and CEO Dan Rivera, Polito announced the creation of new TDI 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), and the extension of a pre-existing district in Fall River (South Main). Polito later joined Taunton Mayor Shaunna O'Connell for a walking tour of the new Taunton TDI district. "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," Polito said. With the TDI program, MassDevelopment seeks "to engage community members, implement local economic development initiatives, and spur further public and private investment." Each district will get a "TDI fellow," a MassDevelopment employee who can provide on-the-ground economic development expertise, and participating municipalities have access to technical assistance, grants to support local market development and arts and cultural infrastructure, collaborative workshops, events 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," Rivera, a former mayor of Lawrence, said. MassDevelopment said it has invested $20 million into TDI districts since the program launched in 2015. The agency said its investment "has directly influenced over $100.2 million in public and private investments in the districts, and assisted an additional $219.9 million." MassDevelopment has previously designated 16 TDI districts. Existing districts in Chicopee, Fitchburg, Lawrence, and Worcester will graduate from the program in June 2022.