The Gateway Cities Journal

Rebuilding Gateway Cities for growth and renewal

Revitalizing real estate in our Gateway Cities is not a one-size-fits-all approach. Chelsea and Chicopee, Peabody and Pittsfield, Salem and Springfield, and the 20 other urban centers that fit this category have diverse needs, populations, and visions for transforming their industrial past into the innovative future.

MassDevelopment President and CEO, Marty Jones speaks with Representative Cabral before Gateway Cities Caucus meeting

MassDevelopment President and CEO, Marty Jones speaks with Representative Cabral before Gateway Cities Caucus meeting

That diversity requires a multi-pronged strategy. With that in mind, MassDevelopment has been proud to work with these cities and their leaders on programs old and new, using initial investments such as brownfields grants, agency loans and bonds, and real estate technical assistance to leverage long-term redevelopment.

Since 1998, the Brownfields Redevelopment Fund has helped eliminate the economic barrier of contamination and transform polluted properties into senior housing or supermarkets, to name just two of many possible productive reuses. Projects in 100 municipalities—and nearly every Gateway City—have taken advantage of the Fund, filling a financing gap to lay the groundwork for sustainable, market-driven development. In fiscal year 2015, the Fund provided more than $6.2 million for site assessment and remediation in 16 cities and towns, nine of those Gateway Cities. These funds show public policy at its best, with one disadvantage: the Brownfields Redevelopment Fund is becoming a victim of its own success, with less than $650,000 left for these challenging parcels.

The Transformative Development Initiative (TDI), in its second year, may not have the longevity of the Brownfields Redevelopment Fund, but these small initial investments in Gateway Cities are already catalyzing revitalization in their downtowns. With programs for coworking spaces, placemaking activities, strategic downtown redevelopment, and economic-development fellows, TDI has created vibrant collaborations that engage civic leaders, businesses, and residents in the future of key districts. MassDevelopment has made the first TDI Investment in Springfield, where the agency is partnering with the Springfield Business Improvement District to convert the former Skyplex building into retail and café space. This spring, the second round of TDI Fellows will arrive in Brockton, New Bedford, and Pittsfield to advance local redevelopment visions, joining a cohort of fellows in Haverhill, Lynn, and Springfield. Future funding could bring fellows to more Gateway Cities, invest in other crucial projects, and complement activities in these downtown districts.

With more dollars for brownfields and TDI, MassDevelopment can build on this legacy of success and continue to leverage these crucial, strategic programs for all 26 Gateway Cities. No matter its needs or population, each city requires tools and partners to seize the opportunity for sustainable, long-term growth. 

Marty Jones, President and CEO, MassDevelopment 



Governor Baker calls for a $75 million investment in vocational education in the State of the Commonwealth Address.

The Rennie Center releases the 2016 Condition of Education Report, which focuses on social and emotional learning, a cornerstone of the Gateway Cities Education Vision.

The Telegram & Gazette reports on falling Gateway City dropout rates, noting MassINC’s joint initiative with Boston University and the Rennie Center to help districts prepare students for post-secondary success.

EdWeek reports on turnaround efforts in Massachusetts with a focus on Worcester.

Nine Gateway Cities across Massachusetts receive grants to advance efforts to provide preschool to more children in their communities.

Once again, Revere High receives national recognition.

State officials release a monitoring report on the New Bedford city school district’s Accelerated Improvement Plan, in which they commend work being done and encourage future progress.

Bristol Community College leases space at the Silver City Galleria Mall as the new site for its Taunton campus.

Wentworth Institute of Technology plans to open a satellite education program in Taunton. The program is in conjunction with the union training center of IBEW Local 223, putting students in close proximity to employers.

Writing for Huffpost, Nellie Mae CEO Nick Donohue highlights opportunities to support personalized learning under the new ESEA. 

Housing & Economic Development

Once again Governor Baker tries to make a policy change that would produce meaningful benefits for In Search ofGateway Cities. In the State of the Commonwealth Address, he calls for for reduced spending on the dubious film tax credit and greater investments in housing production.

Seven Gateway Cities receive Governor Baker’s “urban agenda” grant program, funding for economic development, planning, and housing initiatives.

MassDevelopment posts the job announcement for new TDI Fellows for Pittsfield, Brockton, and New Bedford.

William Geary steps down from the Quincy Planning Board to fill a new position overseeing the city’s efforts to revitalize Quincy Center.

50 jobs will be created as Snapchef, a Boston-based culinary staffing agency, opens their central Massachusetts headquarters in downtown Worcester, citing the location’s proximity to workforce and public transportation.

Tim Murray, president and CEO of the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce, says Worcester will benefit from GE’s decision to move its headquarters to Boston.

The Health Foundation of Central Massachusetts contributes $450,000 to the ReImagine North of Main initiative in downtown Fitchburg, bringing the total funding for the project to $1.2 Million.

The former Reed & Barton site in Taunton is bought by developers who envision a mixed-use restoration with potential for medical offices, housing, commercial distribution or storage and even a gallery. 

Mayor James Fiorentini describes his vision for a walkable, bikeable Haverhill.

Katie Couric reports on the impact of Governor Cuomo’s Buffalo Billion.

The latest issue of Economic Development Quarterly includes another study showing tax incentives produce lackluster local economic development benefits. 

Energy/Environment/ Transportation 

MassDevelopment, the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission and the EPA teamed up to take on a brownfields cleanup in Holyoke. 

Taunton’s Office of Economic and Community Development receives confirmation of a $400,000 state grant to be put towards a riverfront park at the site of the former F.B. Rogers Silver Company. 

Charter Environmental undertakes the cleanup of the former Monsanto Chemical site in Everett to prepare for the Wynn Everett casino.

Installation of a Wayfinding Project is revived in Worcester, expected to be completed in 2017.

Rehabilitation of Union Station in Springfield continues as crews begin a new six-story parking deck.  


The Project First Light resort casino in Taunton is one step closer to being realized, as the Mashpee Wampanoag Indian tribe celebrates the official designation of the site as part a reservation.

Tension between the city of Springfield and MGM is described as “healthy” by Mayor Domenic Sarno, who says that both were, “fighting for what’s best for the city of Springfield.” 

Public Safety

Crime rates in New Bedford decline, almost across the board, in 2015.

Crime in Holyoke is at its lowest in 15 years, according to data submitted by the city to the FBI’s annual National Incident Based Reporting System report.

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