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Taunton Welcomes Transformation Fellow

MassDevelopment’s Transformative Development Initiative Hires Misha Thomas to Lead Partnership Designed to Spur Economic Growth in Taunton’s Whittenton Neighborhood
January 22, 2024

Kelsey Schiller, 857-325-3477 

Taunton TDI Fellow Misha Thomas

TAUNTON, Mass. – MassDevelopment today announced the hiring of a new Transformative Development Initiative (TDI) Fellow, Misha Thomas, who will work full-time in the Taunton TDI district for the next two years. Misha joins an existing cohort of TDI fellows who currently work in TDI districts in Attleboro, Barnstable (Hyannis), Fall River, Holyoke, Lawrence, Lowell, Lynn, New Bedford, Pittsfield, Revere, Springfield, and Worcester.

“Misha Thomas will serve as MassDevelopment’s point-person for Taunton, providing expertise and collaborative leadership to help local stakeholders implement their vision for economic growth in the city’s Whittenton neighborhood,” said MassDevelopment President and CEO Dan Rivera. “Misha’s prior experience advancing business growth and inclusive community development positions her for success in this new role.”

"Revitalizing our Whittenton neighborhood was a priority for our Team as we first came into office,” said Taunton Mayor Shaunna O’Connell. “MassDevelopment's TDI program is instrumental in helping us to achieve that goal. Thanks to the TDI program, we are seeing an impressive transformation in Whittenton. As we continue our revitalization of this area, the addition of Misha Thomas as our TDI fellow brings a new wave of enthusiasm and expertise."

The Transformative Development Initiative (TDI) is MassDevelopment’s signature place-based economic development program for Gateway City downtowns and commercial districts. TDI uses an accelerator model, committing intensive resources for a defined period to real estate development, small business stability and growth, arts and cultural amenities, placemaking, and targeted technical assistance and strategic planning. This work is laid on a platform of community engagement and partnership development; the agency requires that cities assemble a cross-sector partnership to apply, and over the course of the program works to make the partnership more representative of the neighborhood and use it as a platform to grow sustaining, working relationships. 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 in securing an additional $219.9 million. Injecting social and financial capital in TDI districts generate a multiplier effect, circulating resources locally, which ultimately stimulates further economic activity in Gateway Cities.

Misha Thomas is a committed social entrepreneur dedicated to nurturing sustainable communities. As the former Director of Business Development at CommonWealth Kitchen, she significantly bolstered opportunities for small BIPOC food entrepreneurs, helping generate over $200,000 in total sales revenue in her initial year. During this time, Misha spearheaded the introduction of CWK's Yellow Pea Field Fritter to seven Boston-area colleges while leading the implementation of the Kendal Foundation Food Vision Grant. Prior, Misha led the charge in reopening Roxbury's Haley House Bakery Cafe, guiding the team during the pandemic. Taking creative initiative, Misha curated a Black-Owned beer garden and organized an Indigenous non-Thanksgiving, alongside spearheading Roxbury's first Pride Concert. Misha is currently pursuing an MBA in sustainability and international business at Northeastern University.

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 FY2023, MassDevelopment financed or managed 545 projects generating investment of more than $2 billion in the Massachusetts economy. These projects are estimated to create or support 10,522 jobs and build or preserve 1,583 housing units.