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The Gateway Cities Innovation Awards Luncheon

UMass Boston

November 12, 2013

(From left) Fitchburg Mayor Lisa Wong; Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll; Brockton Mayor Linda Balzotti; John Fish, Founder, President and CEO of Suffolk Construction; Greg Torres, President of MassINC and Publisher of CommonWealth magazine; Worcester City Manager Michael O’Brien; Chelsea City Manager Jay Ash

MassINC, together with leaders from the 26 Gateway Cities, celebrated the innovative spirit of Massachusetts’ historic Gateway Cities on Tuesday by honoring individuals and organizations that have had a transformative impact on their communities. The awards were presented at the first annual Gateway Cities Innovation Institute Luncheon, marking the one year anniversary of MassINC’s Gateway Cities Innovation Institute.

Suffolk Construction Founder, President and CEO John Fish spoke on the need for public-private partnerships that can bring large scale development into these communities.

“The one year anniversary of the Institute is the culmination of years of work on the part of so many here today who have made the revitalization of the Gateway Cities a public policy priority for the Commonwealth,” said Greg Torres, President of MassINC and Publisher of CommonWealth magazine. “Seeing all of you gathered here today – from different parts of the state, representing different policy areas and interests – is truly an honor for MassINC.”

The 2013 Gateway Cities Innovation Award winners include forward-thinking officials, community organizations, businesses, and individuals making a big difference in these small to mid-size cities. This year’s event focused on Transformative Redevelopment – the pivotal development projects that change market dynamics by spurring follow-on investment, leading over time to the transformation of entire downtowns or urban neighborhoods. The Gateway Cities Innovation Awards recognized the individuals or organizations that enable these transformative opportunities.

The 2013 Gateway Cities Innovation Award winners are:

Curt Spalding: Mr. Spalding is the Regional Administrator for EPA’s Region 1, which spans the six New England states. He has been a valued partner in redevelopment projects in virtually every Gateway City in the Commonwealth. A notable example of his tenacity is the transformation of Chelsea’s highly contaminated former Lawrence Metals site, which will become a new 152-room Holiday Inn when complete. The complex project has involved coordination between the EPA, MassDEP, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, the City of Chelsea, MassDevelopment, and the site’s private developer.

Marc Dohan: Marc Dohan is the Executive Director of the Twin Cities Community Development Corporation. Under Mr. Dohan’s leadership, the TCCDC has been a powerful agent for neighborhood stabilization. Most recently, working in Fitchburg’s Elm Street neighborhood, the organization has built and rehabbed over 60 units of housing. Acquiring properties that were either in foreclosure or receivership and working with residents to create neighborhood assets and increase home ownership, Mr. Dohan and TCCDC have played a pivotal role transforming a vulnerable neighborhood.

O’Connell Companies: Holyoke-based O’Connell Companies is renowned for their work on large and technically complex projects. As the first private developer to invest in WPI’s Gateway Park, they have joined a small class of firms with the vision and risk tolerance to execute on truly transformative projects. The O’Connell Companies addition of 92,000 square feet of commercial space complements public and institutional investments in the area. Together, these coordinated projects are changing a once-blighted area near Lincoln Square into a growing mixed-use district.

The Merrimack Valley Sandbox: The mission of the Sandbox is to boost the economic and social well-being of greater Lowell and Lawrence by advancing entrepreneurship and innovation. The Sandbox fosters entrepreneurship among diverse populations of residents and workers in the Merrimack Valley including high school and college students, adults, and non-English speakers. The Sandbox runs dozens of programs including workshops, pitch contests, entrepreneur meetups, themed mixers, and twice annual accelerator programs. Through these programs, the Sandbox leverages hundreds of volunteers from the business, non profit, government, and educational communities to serve as mentors, teachers, sponsors, and judges.

Mary Waldron: As the Executive Director of Brockton 21st Century Corporation, Ms. Waldron played a pivotal role facilitating two major downtown redevelopment projects: the transformation of the Knight building into the Station Lofts by Capstone Communities and the rebuilding of the Enterprise Block by Trinity Financial. Both projects are within walking distance of the Brockton commuter rail station. Capstone’s adaptive reuse of an old industrial building (where the catcher’s mitt was invented) was Brockton’s first use of the historic tax credit.

Armando Feliciano and Jay Minkarah: Armando Feliciano is a longtime Springfield community leader and Chairman of the Springfield Redevelopment Authority. After the 2011 tornado destroyed Mr. Feliciano’s home, he strove not only to rebuild his own property, but to also foster a collaborative partnership between the SRA and DevelopSpringfield, a newly formed public-private economic development organization. As the first CEO of DevelopSpringfield, Jay Minkarah has devoted enormous energy to this joint effort. The opportunity their collaboration has produced is embodied in the Rebuild Springfield Plan – an ambitious, forward-thinking blueprint for the city’s future that the SRA and DevelopSpringfield are now working together to implement.

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November 12, 2013