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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

MassDevelopment’s TDI Creative Catalyst Grant program is a competitive opportunity for individuals, organizations, and project teams in current and graduated TDI districts to apply for grants between $20,000 and $100,000 to support public-facing projects that enhance local arts and cultural infrastructure and contribute to economic revitalization.

Creative communities are central to restoring the regional significance of urban neighborhoods in Gateway Cities and advancing their overall economic development outlook. Through our support of projects ranging from public art and placemaking to the stabilization of culturally significant organizations and creative business collectives, we seek to help Gateway Cities enhance their status as distinctive cultural, community, and business anchors in today’s post-industrial environment.

The goal of this program is to support the implementation of locally initiated projects, and clusters of projects, that will be used to test new approaches and build a more inclusive and sustainable arts and culture network, as well as those that serve to make the arts and culture ecosystem of these communities more equitable and representative.

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