MassINC calls for a $1.7 billion “transformative redevelopment” program for Massachusetts’ Gateway Cities


Press Release

MassINC calls for a $1.7 billion “transformative redevelopment” program for Massachusetts’ Gateway Cities

Targeted package of public funding and policy initiatives to catalyze private investment in midsize cities  

Providing $1.7 billion over ten years for transformative redevelopment projects in Gateway Cities could stimulate nearly $7 billion in investment and create approximately 80,000 jobs, according to a report released today by MassINC’s Gateway Cities Innovation Institute. The report explores how the development strategy known as “transformative investment” could jump-start building in the state’s regional economic centers, thereby bringing on private investment with enough impact to transform communities.  

“There is tremendous upside for everyone in the successful redevelopment of Gateway Cities but it starts with an understanding of the very real market hurdles that need to be overcome before private investors can put their capital to work in these communities,” said Representative Antonio Cabral, co-chair of the Gateway Cities Legislative Caucus, who spoke at Thursday’s caucus breakfast where the report was released.

“For the overall Massachusetts economy to achieve the next level of growth, we need these regions to contribute in a way they haven’t before,” said John Fish, Chairman and CEO of Suffolk Construction and Chairman of the Board of the Massachusetts Competitive Partnership.  “It is time for the Commonwealth to have a conversation about targeted investments that generate growth in our Gateway Cities.”

The report, “Transformative Redevelopment: Strategic State Policy for Gateway City Growth and Renewal,” focuses on public and private financial support for projects that catalyze significant follow-on private investment, leading over time to the transformation of an entire downtown or urban neighborhood. The approach seeks to repair weak real estate markets in former manufacturing centers like New Bedford, Springfield, and Worcester, where development costs outweigh returns, creating a market gap that keeps private investment out. 

“This bold package includes new and existing support targeted specifically towards the unique challenges and untapped potential of the state’s Gateway Cities,” said Benjamin Forman, Executive Director of MassINC’s Gateway Cities Innovation Invitation Institute, which hosted the breakfast. “These communities are ideal destinations for businesses and institutions, big and small, but the market gap is simply too large a deterrent for private investors.”

To address these issues, the report puts forth a program that includes a combination of public funding and loan guarantees, tax incentives, regulatory reform, and technical assistance. Together, the package amounts to $1.7 billion over a ten year period and is expected to stimulate approximately $3.4 billion in new development and reuse, providing funds to make possible at least seven major transformative redevelopment projects and generating total reinvestment in Gateway Cities approaching $7 billion. This level of reinvestment activity would support approximately 80,000 jobs.



  • Commit $125 million per year for the next 10 years to build a transformative redevelopment fund
  • Create a loan guarantee to facilitate private lending for transformative redevelopment projects
  • Create a transformative redevelopment revolving loan fund.
  • Commit an additional $20 million per year over the next 10 years to the MassWorks Grant program
  • Provide targeted incentives to homebuyers to significantly increase the catalytic neighborhood revitalization effect of transformative redevelopment
  • Design and coordinate economic development programs that catalyze Gateway City markets
  • Build Gateway City capacity
  • Make changes to existing state programs and regulations to enhance their ability to support transformative redevelopment
  • Create strong governance structures
  • Assemble data to identify market opportunities and evaluate progress

According to Forman, who presented the package before the Gateway City legislative caucus members, the untapped economic potential of these key regional cities provides a strong rationale for making a sizeable investment. As traditional “gateways” to the middle class, these cities are home to new Americans, young people, and small businesses that are poised to contribute to the overall economy. From a development perspective, these historic mill cities have prime locations, with interstate highways, airports, deep-water ports, and freight and regional passenger rail service as well as walkable downtowns, riverfronts, parks and a plethora of historic and architecturally distinct buildings. 

Housing is one of the primary constraints on job creation in Massachusetts. An investment of this scale that capitalizes on opportunities to create desirable downtown environments could significantly address the problem,  contributing significantly to the annual 10,000 unit multifamily housing goal established by the Patrick administration last fall after analysis by Northeastern University demonstrated that the Commonwealth would need roughly double that level of production to sustain strong economic growth.

While the state is supporting several major transformative redevelopment projects currently, including Lowell’s Hamilton Canal Project and Worcester’s City Square, these projects have struggled to unfold due to the limitations of the state’s existing programs. A program designed specifically to ensure that large investments in the state’s Gateway Cities catalyze private reinvestment would provide much stronger return on taxpayer dollars.    

Unlike Boston, which saw steady investment through the real estate downturn and now has projects planned or underway that make it one of the strongest construction markets in the nation, Gateway Cities have seen new development plummet since the recession, pointing to the need for state policy that addresses the unique needs of these regional economies.

About the Gateway Cities Innovation Institute:

The Gateway Cities Innovation Institute is new platform at MassINC designed to build and sustain collaborative cross-city, cross-sector efforts to advance a common agenda for Gateway City growth and renewal. The Institute provides independent analysis and a neutral table to help communities coalesce around shared priorities and cooperatively implement bold policy innovation. The 24 Gateway Cities, as defined by Massachusetts law, include: Barnstable, Brockton, Chelsea, Chicopee, Everett, Fall River, Fitchburg, Haverhill, Holyoke, Lawrence, Leominster, Lowell, Lynn, Malden, Methuen, New Bedford, Pittsfield, Quincy, Revere, Salem, Springfield, Taunton, Westfield, and Worcester.

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