State Announces Revitalization Effort For New Bedford’s North End
February 15, 2022 : WBSM, by Kate Robinson
NEW BEDFORD — Acushnet Avenue may be getting a makeover, after the commercial area was one of 13 in the state chosen to receive $23.7 million in total state funding for economic development initiatives.
Massachusetts officials announced the funding Tuesday at a press conference at Hatch Street Studios in the North End.
The financial support marks a major expansion of the MassDevelopment's Transformative Development Initiative (TDI), a program to advance economic growth of specific commercial districts in 'gateway cities,' or former urban industrial centers.
The "Acushnet Ave Corridor" has been designated as New Bedford's second TDI district, after the program helped revitalize a portion of the city's downtown area several years ago.
A preliminary map of the corridor shows it stretching from below Beetle Street to Phillips Avenue.
"The Avenue is a really special place," said New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell at the press conference, going on to call it "the physical manifestation of New Bedford’s melting pot."
"My grandmother and her sister, who were Polish, had a seamstress shop three blocks from here on the Avenue," he noted. "The names change over the years, but the Avenue remains a constant. It's a place of opportunity."
Mitchell said he was grateful that MassDevelopment chose Acushnet Avenue for a development district.
"The designation will help energize existing small businesses, bring new ones to life, and support long-term neighborhood vitality,” he commented.
TDI Fellows in each area will provide on-the-ground support, economic development expertise and collaborative leadership over the next three years.
They will also accelerate development with tools like technical assistance, grants to support local markets and arts and culture infrastructure, and by holding workshops and other events.
At the press conference, Massachusetts Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito lauded the program, noting that she's seen first-hand how it revitalizes commercial areas when shopping in downtown New Bedford.
"It gets transformed," she said. "It is exciting."
Other gateway cities joining the program include Attleboro, Barnstable, Holyoke, Lawrence, Lowell, Lynn, Pittsfield, Revere, Springfield, Taunton and Worcester.
A current development district in Fall River will also be extended.
The expansion more than doubles the size of the program, which currently operates TDI districts in five gateway cities.
Polito said that since 2015, the $20 million invested in the program resulted in $100 million of added value to the districts, calling it a "really super impactful program."
It is unclear exactly how much of the new expanded program's $23.7 million New Bedford is set to receive.
Because TDI districts vary in size and scope, the funding is distributed according to the needs of each location.
“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,” commented Governor Charlie Baker.
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.