At the buzzer, Downing hits a game-changer

The Gateway Cities Journal

Last week Senator Benjamin Downing—outgoing co-chair of the Gateway Cities Legislative Caucus—scored a major departing victory for our cause when he successfully inserted an amendment into the municipal government bill (S 2410) giving regions an option to raise funds locally to pay for regional transportation needs.

If this amendment passes in a final bill, it would be a game-changer for efforts to balance regional economic growth. Projects outside of Greater Boston that have languished for years without attention from the state’s overburdened transportation bureaucracy would have a real shot at happening in our lifetime. MassINC’s research has shown that regional funding by local ballot initiative could raise significant new revenue. Not only is the idea popular with a vast majority of voters, regional transportation ballot initiatives are working in other states and cities. In fact, as federal funding has declined, the rest of the country is keeping their economies moving with regional transportation investments.

As noted recently in MassBenchmarks, deferred investment in transportation infrastructure is already taking a heavy toll on regional economic growth in Massachusetts. If we remain focused for another decade on the trials and tribulations of the MBTA, this will not change. RTAs will continue to see level funding, making it difficult to get low-income Gateway City residents to higher wage work and major opportunities, like replacing the I-91 viaduct in Springfield with a span that doesn’t split the city from the riverfront, will continue to be lost.

With bold leadership from Senator Downing, communities across the Commonwealth may soon have a new tool to tackle their own transportation challenges and grow their economies. This provision is now a layup for the House. The people’s House can let the people vote. When it comes to these critical investments, they are best positioned to know what their region’s need and whether it makes sense to raise new funds to pay for it.

– Ben Forman 



 Housing and Economic Development

The Senate passes an economic development bill with TDI and other critical Gateway City provisions.

The Federal Reserve Bank of Boston hosts a celebration honoring second round winning teams of the Working Cities Challenge from Haverhill, Lowell, Pittsfield, Springfield, and Worcester.

Amazon’s new Fall River warehouse will bring 500 new jobs when it opens this September. 

Brockton and other Gateway Cities have not seen the same raise in incomes as other cities despite economic growth, contributing to increases in income inequality says a new report by MassBudget.

Ed Glaeser gives a lecture at the Manhattan Institute on how we’ve come to the “end of work.”     

Creative Placemaking 

The Massachusetts Cultural Council launches the Futurecity Initiative targeting districts in Boston, Springfield, and Worcester.

A Lowell artist plans to beautify a stretch of the Lower Pawtucket Canal using translucent veils.

A new study in Economic Development Quarterly looks at the power of arts-based economic development in weak market cities. 


Various responses to the proposed Brockton Trust Act surface with some saying it would create more open relationships between undocumented immigrants and police while others voice concerns of turning Brockton into a “sanctuary city.” 

Holyoke officials struggle to balance the sewer-bill deficit and hope a new law on overdue bills will bridge the gap. 

Worcester announces a $2.3 million Main Street reconstruction plan to improve bike and foot traffic and safety.

Governing thinks about how cities change their narratives.      


Matthew Malone takes the helm as Fall River’s new superintendent.

A local educator at North Shore Community College in Haverhill wins the 2016 Massachusetts Colleges Online Course of Distinction Award.

The Heller School releases new data tracking childhood opportunity by community.             

Communities and People 

Holyoke comes out for the Celebrate Holyoke 2016 annual festival featuring a 1,000 foot slip-and-slide.

The Lowell Folk Festival celebrates its 30th anniversary.

Local singers plan to march through New Bedford encouraging citizens to take pride in their city.

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