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Our Approach and TDI Tools

TDI uses a toolbox approach, hanging multiple sub-programs for TDI Districts on a frame of partnership building and community engagement. Please note that programs are only available in active TDI Districts (or graduated TDI Districts where noted). Applications for TDI Districts are currently closed.

The signature component of TDI is the “TDI Fellows” program

TDI Fellows are full-time MassDevelopment employees hired specifically to provide economic development expertise and collaborative leadership in Gateway Cities for the duration of their designation in a TDI district. TDI Fellows serve as the main organizers for place-based economic development, leading and facilitating the day-to-day work of each TDI Partnership. The program offers an opportunity to be part of something different — it’s a unique, intensive on-the-ground role that requires flexibility, curiosity, and an entrepreneurial spirit, one that is much more focused on “field work” rather than “desk work.”

Partnership Development

The TDI Fellow cultivates a network of cross-sector stakeholders – “the TDI Partnership” – to facilitate district transformation with goals, strategies, and measurement practices. The partnership structure is usually comprised of local anchor institutions including the city, local neighborhood organizations, businesses, and local leaders.

Creative Economy Initiatives

Recognizing the outsized impact that the creative and cultural economies have on Gateway City downtowns and commercial districts, TDI has significantly expanded its work in this space over time with generous support from the Barr Foundation.

TDI Creative Cities

Creative Cities is a creative and cultural economy ecosystem builder designed to follow a city’s designation as a TDI District. This comprehensive program runs for two-plus years, supporting five interconnected program areas: 1) partnership growth; 2) leadership development; 3) project implementation; 4) place designation; and 5) network coordination and organization. TDI Creative Cities was co-designed and piloted with partners in New Bedford, and has since been expanded to Fitchburg, Lynn, and Springfield.

TDI Creative Catalyst Grant

Program Background and Eligibility

The TDI Creative Catalyst Grant (CCG) program is funded by the Barr Foundation and administered by MassDevelopment TDI. The program offers competitive grant opportunities for individuals, organizations, and project teams within active and graduated Transformative Development Initiative (TDI) districts. Applicants can apply for grants of between $20,000 and $125,000 to support public-facing projects that enhance local arts and cultural infrastructure and contribute to localized economic revitalization.

$1,000,000 in grant funding is being made available for this round. For this grant, we broadly define “arts and culture” to include culturally relevant and unique projects involving, but not limited to, the culinary arts, retail, public space, scaling online sales and/or export, and light manufacturing related to creative economy businesses. We believe that creative communities are central to restoring the regional significance of urban neighborhoods in Gateway Cities.

Eligible Districts 

Attleboro, Barnstable, Brockton, Chelsea, Chicopee, Fall River, Haverhill, Holyoke Canal District, Holyoke South High, Lawrence East Essex, Lawrence West Essex, Lowell, Peabody, Pittsfield North Street, Pittsfield Tyler Street, Revere, Taunton, Worcester Main South, Worcester Pleasant Street, Worcester Theatre District.

Creative Cities Districts Eligibility

Applicants from Fitchburg, Lynn, New Bedford, and Springfield are eligible to apply for Category 2: Creative Clusters if the project is coordinated with qualified co-applicants from the eligible districts outlined above.

Program Focus

The Creative Catalyst Program has two complementary objectives: First, it aims to address wealth disparities in Gateway Cities by offering adaptable funding at the neighborhood level for arts and culture initiatives, and second, it seeks to foster collaborations between established creative entities and emerging organizations in a way that helps advance economic development.

  • July 23: Webinar at 1 p.m.
Webinar Registration
Office Hours
  • July 25: Worcester (Serving applicants from the Central Region – Fitchburg (Clusters Only) and Worcester)
    – New Tradition Co., 5 Harris Ct, Worcester from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. 
  • July 29: Holyoke and Pittsfield (Serving applicants from the West Region – Chicopee, Holyoke, Springfield (Clusters Only), and Pittsfield) 
    – Fiesta Café: 305 Main St, Holyoke from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
    – Dottie’s Coffee Lounge: 444 North St, Pittsfield from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
  • July 31: Hyannis (Serving applicants from the South Region – Attleboro, Brockton, Barnstable-Hyannis, Fall River, New Bedford (Clusters Only), and Taunton)
    – Bread + Roses Bookstore and Café: 302 Main St, Hyannis from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
  • August 5: Fall River (Serving applicants from the South Region – Attleboro, Brockton, Barnstable-Hyannis, Fall River, New Bedford (Clusters Only), and Taunton) 
    – Pink Bean Coffee: 85 Purchase St, Fall River from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
  • August 14: Lowell (Serving applicants from the North Region – Haverhill, Lawrence, Lowell, Lynn (Clusters Only), and Peabody) 
    –  Nibbāna Café: 12 Cardinal O’Connell Parkway, Lowell from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.   
  • August 16: Revere (Serving applicants from the Greater Boston Region – Chelsea and Revere) 
    –  Valsos Cafe: 123A Shirley Ave, Revere from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
  • August 23: Full Application and Letters of Support Due by 11:59 p.m.

*Prospective applicants can attend any in-person office hours within any region. Please select “virtual office hour” in the Office Hours sign-up sheet to attend your meeting virtually.

Office Hours Registration
Application and other guidelines

TDI Local

TDI Local is a tool for small business growth available annually in TDI Districts. Local partners design a custom program to deploy grant funding from MassDevelopment locally to meet their objectives. In the past, programs have included:

  • Funding the improvement of the physical exterior appearance of businesses to enhance the districts.
  • Providing small build-out grants to businesses opening in vacant storefronts.
  • Enhancing business district visibility, marketing, lighting, and wayfinding.

TDI Equity Investment

TDI Equity Investments are the most significant real estate-specific tool in the TDI District toolkit. The program supports the catalytic transformation of commercial properties with the potential to spur additional transformative development in and around TDI Districts. Through the program, MassDevelopment invests in near-term projects that activate ground-floor and commercial spaces that will have significant economic impacts within a TDI District; are consistent with Commonwealth and agency priorities; engage and build capacity in local communities and with partners; catalyze market demand and support TDI District goals; and lack other sufficient funding sources to proceed.

Eligible districts and workplan summaries:

AttleboroBarnstableFall RiverHolyokeLawrenceLowellLynnNew BedfordPittsfieldRevereSpringfieldTaunton, and Worcester.

How to apply:

For general background information, please review the TDI Equity Program Brochure before advancing to the Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA).

Key dates and deadlines:
  • April 1, 2024: Concept Proposals Due
  • May 1, 2024: Final Applications Due
  • June: Award announcements and approvals
  • July: Contracting
Application resources:
  • Concept Proposal Video (3/4/24) WATCH HERE
  • Full Application Walkthrough Video (3/18/24) WATCH HERE

Technical Assistance

MassDevelopment provides access to technical experts and consultants who work on local priority projects that enhance the revitalization of a TDI District and its surroundings. Types of technical assistance provided in the past have included:

  • Planning studies
  • Strategic plans
  • Downtown urban design strategies
  • Market strategies
  • Investor prospectus development
  • Community visioning
  • Storefront activation
  • Industry cluster analysis
  • Marketing and branding
  • District financing and management