At the buzzer, Gateway City leaders score a game-changer

The Gateway Cities Journal

gov signing

Governor Baker signs economic development bill on August 10, 2016

Gateway City leaders enthusiastically applauded the smart economic development investments Governor Baker signed into law last week at the State House. This session’s economic development package authorized an unusually large infusion of capital spending, including $500 million for the MassWorks grant, $45 million for the Brownfields Redevelopment Fund, and $45 million for the Transformative Development Initiative. These significant sums demonstrate how committed the Baker administration is to Gateway City revitalization.

But the big ticket pieces might not represent the most significant achievement for Gateway Cities in the bill. Quietly tucked into the omnibus legislation is a pilot program developed by Ted Carman and Eleanor White. Over the past year, the two long-time Massachusetts housing leaders worked together tirelessly on a plan to solve the state’s housing challenge by making far more Gateway City developments economically feasible through a “Workforce Housing Production Trust Fund.”

The novelty is this new trust fund provides an avenue for the state to recoup the large infusion of patient equity it provides to Gateway City projects. In exchange for funding equal to twice the Housing Development Incentive Program (HDIP) tax credit, the state can capture 25 percent of the project’s annual cash flow and 25 percent of the developer’s profit at sale or refinancing, up to the full amount of state funding provided.

Senator Donoghue and Senator Chandler saw the logic in this proposal and encouraged the Senate President to champion the concept. When the Senate’s economic development bill made its way over to the House, Rep. Cabral convinced his House colleagues on the conference committee to give the Carman-White idea a try. The final bill included funding for a $25 million pilot. Rather than veto the allocation, the Baker administration wisely accepted the legislature’s innovative contribution to the economic development bill.

Copy of Copy of Copy of Copy of Copy of Copy of A Gateway Cities Innovation Institute (2)The potential to have up to 50 percent of construction costs covered by state equity will drive many developers to take a fresh look at Gateway City projects. This could create pressure to redevelop buildings that don’t make all that much sense, but the Transformative Development Initiative

provides an excellent hedge against that risk. MassDevelopment’s work identifying districts, inventorying properties that represent opportunities for catalytic redevelopment, and building community support and momentum provides a strong framework for selecting smart investments. Think of this new trust fund as filling in one of the last missing pieces-a strong tool to get more housing developers and private capital in the mix.

Ted Carman and Eleanor White had convincing analysis to show the state will earn a real return through higher tax revenue that comes with job growth spurred by housing production. If this program proves to be as powerful we think it could be, they will deserve enormous gratitude. But history should also recall the leadership that Gateway City legislators provided advocating for this game-changer at the hectic conclusion of a busy session.

– Winthrop Roosevelt 

 Housing and Economic Development 

Governor Baker signs the economic development bill into law.

Business leaders from Fall River and New Bedford want the state to make a decision on the South Coast Rail Project.

The Gaming Commission denies a funding request to revitalize and operate the Brockton Fairgrounds as a horse racing the track.

Thanks to tourists, the ferry between Boston and Salem is self-sustaining, the operator says. 

Worcester opens a new 300-space parking garage, another sign of a renaissance downtown. The Worcester Sports Center, which features two ice rinks, signs Becker College as its first tenant.

Next City reports on trauma-informed community development as a new economic development strategy.

Aaron Renn’s podcast explores how you revitalize a deserted city center. 


Bristol Community College opens a new Health and Sciences building in Fall River with$46 million from the higher education bond program.

The Salem schools strike a partnership agreement with Americorps to improve English language learning.

Brookings blogs on how you effectively train principals to be breakthrough leaders. 


Facing a $75 million budget shortfall, Baystate Health in Springfield is cutting 300 positions.

The Massachusetts Energy Facilities Siting Board agrees to extend the permit for the Brockton Power gas-fired plant project.

Deepwater Wind, one of three companies likely to be bidding on offshore wind contracts issued by Massachusetts utilities, hires former New Bedford Economic Development Council director Matthew Morrissey as its point person for the Bay State. 


Jay Ash is seeking the city manager’s job in Cambridge.

Bob Buckley, Chief of Staff for Brockton Mayor Bill Carpenter, is stepping down to return to teaching in the city’s public schools.

A state-sponsored report says New Bedford’s State Pier is deteriorating and poorly managed, with many tenants operating under lapsed leases making accurate record and revenue reconciliation impossible. 

Governing reports on new research that shows cities benefit when states intervene in municipalities with financial challenges.

Communities and People 

Fall River residents celebrate the city’s first Cambodian Culture Festival through music, dance, and food.

The Eagle introduces readers to Pittsfield‘s new TDI Fellow– Amewusika “Sika” Sedzro.

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