Hardworking Gateway City Citizens
The Gateway Cities Journal
President Obama’s parting plea to work collaboratively as citizens to address hard issues had to resonate with Gateway City leaders, who never shy from this civic responsibility. Together, they grapple with the toughest problems and try to find commonsense solutions. In just the past two days, we’ve witnessed two great examples.
Wednesday, at the first Gateway Cities Caucus meeting of the new session, legislative leaders huddled to discuss how they can join forces to tackle shared challenges. Their conversation reflected hard-earned knowledge across a range of issues, from increasing access to vocational education, to improving the local aid distribution formula, to ensuring state law provides English Language Learners with the most effective instructional models possible, to addressing vacancy and blight. Gateway City leaders renewed their commitment to work collaboratively in common cause this session, and celebrated the appointment of Springfield Senator Eric Lesser, who will replace retiring Senator Ben Downing as caucus co-chair.
Yesterday’s community conversation on the Every Student Succeeds Act was another example of devoted Gateway City leadership. More than 100 civic leaders turned out for constructive dialogue on what education accountability has accomplished for Gateway Cities, and where improvements can be made to ensure that the new federal law supports educators, as they work to ensure that students gain all of the skills that they will need to be successful.
Lowell was just the second stop on our ESSA accountability tour (the next meeting will be held in New Bedford on January 30th). Already, we are beginning to see common themes emerge from these conversations. To help crystallize this thinking and develop a unified message on how Massachusetts’ education policymakers can make ESSA a launching point for the next leap forward for Gateway City schools, we will be inviting leaders to join us on weekly conference calls beginning next Friday. We welcome participation from anyone interested in heeding the president’s call by “diving into” a complex issue that is so crucial to Gateway Cities and our entire Commonwealth.
Housing and Economic Development
The Lawrence Venture Fund gives a boost to local immigrant-owned businesses.
CommonWealth highlights new data on big drops in unemployment rates across Massachusetts, including Barnstable, Leominster-Gardner, Pittsfield, Springfield, and Worcester. New Bedford led the nation, with its unemployment rate falling from 6.5% in November 2015 to 3.7% in November 2016.
Jim McKeag, the New Bedford TDI Fellow, writes to thank Commonwealth for capturing the economic development momentum building in the city.
A Telegram editorial praises the impressive commitment at the local and state levels responsible for bringing new biomanufacturing to Worcester.
Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse wants to tap his city’s inventory of empty mill buildings and turn them into hot houses growing marijuana for the state’s new recreational pot sector.
MassDevelopment releases an annual TDI Cowork report.
Preservation Worcester group launches last ditch effort to save former Notre Dame des Canadiens Church from demolition.
The American Assembly publishes a volume edited by Paul Brophy on being mindful of the needs of America’s “middle neighborhoods.”
Rumblings of a repair effort for The Brasiliere Bridge in Haverhill have some worried commutes will be affected.
The MBTA agrees to outsource warehousing and parts-delivery operations to a Virginia-based company. The move away from using the previous warehouse in Everett is expected to save the T $64 million.
T4Mass lands Chris Dempsey to lead the coalition.
Senate President Stan Rosenberg calls for a statewide transportation vision with a focus on the needs of areas outside of Greater Boston.
The Globe editorial board calls for making arts education part of the state accountability formula.
Scot Lehigh says legislation sponsored by House education chair Alice Peisch to authorize Innovation Partnership Zones that give groups of struggling urban schools more autonomy could be a plausible district reform path following November’s defeat of the charter school ballot question. CommonWealth wrote in 2015 about the Springfield model for the zones and laid out last spring plans to push for wider use of the structure. New Bedford officials are also interested in pursuing the concept.
The Worcester School Committee looks at substitute teacher pay raise.
The Massachusetts College Access Celebration has its fourth successful year connecting high school seniors in Worcester with colleges.
Springfield Technical Community College will offer a conversational Spanish course aimed at preparing those about to enter the workforce.
New Bedford is set to become the first community in the state to have an Arts, Culture, and Tourism PromotionFund that will paid for by the city’s local hotel tax in addition to any private or public revenue officials raise.
Pittsfield rolls out paid parking for the first time.
Salem leaders take on climate change.Communities and People
Retired state Rep. Benjamin Swan Sr. to be honored at 35th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Scholarship Breakfast in Springfield.