Event Recap | 11th Annual Gateway Cities Innovation Institute Awards & Summit

Event recognizes Gateway City clean energy efforts and presents strategies on building decarbonization and transportation in Gateway Cities

On November 14th, the 11th Annual Gateway Cities Innovation Institute Awards and Summit brought municipal officials together with experts on renewable energy, housing, and transportation to explore the pivotal role that our regional urban centers will play steering the commonwealth’s transition to a clean energy future.

With Fitchburg State University graciously hosting us, the event kicked off with an energetic performance from the breakdance group Cypha in da Burg. Mayor Stephen DiNatale opened the speaking program with a warm welcome. Lt. Governor Kim Driscoll set the tone for the day, challenging Gateway Cities to roll up their sleeves and find opportunities for community economic development, as they lead the way and help the commonwealth decarbonize.

Then we got into the specifics of the work ahead with two engaging panels:

The first, led by Katherine Moses, Sustainability Director for the City of Lowell, focused on decarbonizing buildings. Panelists included Jon Rudzinski, owner of Rees-Larkin Development, Mary Wambui, Asset Manager for the Planning Office of Urban Affairs, and Sara Ross, co-founder of UndauntedK12.

Jonathan Guzman, External Affairs Manager at Groundwork Lawrence, led the second panel, which addressed strategies to reduce carbon emissions by changes to transportation and mobility. We heard from Jackson Moore-Otto, Regional Rail Project Manager for Transit Matters, Mary Ellen DeFrias, Administrator of the Greater Attleboro Taunton Regional Transit Authority, and Sean Tully, the Manager of Electric Mobility at Eversource.

Following a break for lunch, the awards ceremony commenced with a welcome from Dr. Richard Lapidus, President of Fitchburg State University, followed by a briefing on the Downtown Vitality Campaign by Emily Ruddock, Executive Director of MASSCreative.

Dr. Luis Aguirre-Torres, Director of Financing Solutions at the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, delivered an inspiring keynote address, highlighting strategies to help families cover the large upfront cost of converting to clean energy (click here for his slide presentation).

We concluded a great day by recognizing the 2023 awardees for their outstanding contributions:

  • Mayor James Fiorentini of Haverhill received the Mayor Bill Carpenter Award for Excellence in Gateway City Leadership.
  • Mary Wambui and the Regional Transit Authority Advocates Coalition (RTAAC) received the Gateway Cities Champion Award
  • Bristol Community College National Offshore Wind Institute, City of Lowell Community First Partnership, Moran Square Redevelopment, NewVue Communities Environmental Stewards Program, Western Massachusetts E-Contractor Academy, and the Worcester HEART Partnership received Gateway Cities Innovation Awards.

MassINC’s CEO, Joe Kriesberg, closed the luncheon by emphasizing the importance of continued Gateway Cities collaboration to help Massachusetts work toward a cleaner, more sustainable future.

We are grateful to all of the speakers and sponsors that made the 11th Annual Gateway Cities Innovation Institute Awards and Summit possible, and to everyone who joined us in Fitchburg for the dialogue and celebration.

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