Posted on Monday, May 19 2008 by Heather Brandon
At the gathering, also attended by Lieutenant Governor Tim Murray, 11 municipal representatives in Massachusetts signed a Gateway Cities Compact (see below). The agreement is said to provide a foundation to “redefine economic development” in the state with a greater emphasis on urban population centers.
Murray also announced at the event a “new initiative relative to brownfields redevelopment” for municipalities (see release below).
Fall River’s Herald News has a report today, by Grant Welker, with some further information about the compact-signing this morning and what led to it.
From the article:
The group of gateway cities—so named for their traditionally high immigrant populations—have signed a compact seeking the state’s attention as they get caught behind the economic trend away from industrial jobs to more knowledge-based positions. Other cities in the group [besides Fall River] include Brockton, Lawrence, New Bedford, Springfield and Worcester.
The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth’s Urban Initiative, headed by former Fall River mayor Edward M. Lambert Jr. [he resigned as mayor last October], began working with gateway city leaders last December to discuss challenges and opportunities the cities share. [Read another article about Lambert's activities in his new academic role here, which describes a conference he led co-sponsored by the bipartisan, statewide networking group ONE Massachusetts.] The partnership hopes to convince the state that cities outside greater Boston are deserving of aid, Lambert said. …
A study released last year by think tanks MassINC and the Brookings Institution showed that since 1970, gateway cities lost 3 percent of their job base, while greater Boston saw a 51 percent bump in new jobs. The cities make up 15 percent of the state’s population, but are home to 30 percent of all Massachusetts residents living under the poverty line, the study also found. The MassINC/Brookings study also noted gateway cities’ potential for middle-class housing, smart growth developments, and a growing and diverse work force. These cities, the report said, are falling further behind the rest of the state in job creation, income and educational attainment. …“These cities bear the burden of a lot of responsibility of the commonwealth,” Lambert said, “but without a lot of attention from the commonwealth.”
In Worcester, City Manager Michael O’Brien put the compact agreement before the city council, asking them to enable him to authorize it on the city’s behalf at the event in Boston today. He told reporter Nick Kotsopoulos of the Telegram & Gazette that he has been working with executives from the other gateway cities during the past year to craft the document. In a May 6 article (hat tip: Bill Randell’s blog post), O’Brien was quoted:
“Without a comprehensive, targeted and aggressive action plan and a coordination push at all levels to drive sustainable development in our Commonwealth’s Gateway Cities, we fall short of maximizing all opportunities in this competitive global marketplace,” Mr. O’Brien wrote in a report that goes before City Council tonight. “We worked closely together with our sister cities, for we believe there is strength in common cause, shared vision and, of course, numbers,” he added. “Our intent is to pursue this agenda from the grass roots and with the leadership and partnership of Beacon Hill. Time is of the essence.” …
“Too often, Worcester loses out on companies not only courted by North Carolina, Texas or California, but by greenfield opportunities in neighboring Massachusetts communities that offer the same set of incentives and lower-cost development sites,” Mr. O’Brien said. “The Gateway Cities look to work with the commonwealth to refine the current development toolbox and to expand incentives for its urban centers to increase our competitiveness. …This plan builds off the compact and will require actions and efforts of all the Gateway Cities to secure the necessary policy and program changes.”
Where do Springfield officials stand with respect to this effort? Are the city council or the mayor fully up to speed about what it might entail? What about other gateway cities west of Worcester? Update: Mayor Domenic Sarno’s office issued a release midday today regarding these events; that release is below. The Republican reported late today that mayoral chief of staff Denise Jordan, aide Darryl Moss, and director for economic development Brian Connors were all present on behalf of the city.
An email to O’Brien requesting a copy of the compact did not elicit a response. However, after the passage of O’Brien’s request by Worcester City Council, the document became available online, and its text is available at the bottom of this post, following today’s press releases.
Below is the brownfields support initiative press release.
PATRICK-MURRAY ADMINISTRATION ANNOUNCES BROWNFIELDS SUPPORT TEAMS
Lieutenant Governor Murray says interagency initiative
can help communities clean up and redevelop contaminated properties
BOSTON – Monday, May 19, 2008 – Lieutenant Governor Timothy Murray announced today a new initiative to help communities clean up contaminated sites and prepare them for redevelopment. New Brownfields Support Teams made up of staff from multiple state agencies will target sites that have yet to be developed since the Brownfields Act was passed in 1998, the Lieutenant Governor said.
“Despite many accomplishments, there are still many potentially viable Brownfield sites that have stalled due to market conditions, extent of environmental contamination, and the lack of local expertise to deal with the complex issues that arise with troublesome sites,” said Lieutenant Governor Murray. “This second generation of sites needs extra attention to find a clear pathway to cleanup and redevelopment. The Brownfields Support Team initiative will provide the attention needed to get the job done.”
The Brownfields Support Team initiative will bring together the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP), the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development (HED), and MassDevelopment to help municipalities solve the problems that impede the redevelopment of contaminated properties. Other state and federal agencies will be brought into these teams depending on the needs of specific projects. These could include the Office of the Attorney General, the Department of Revenue, and federal EPA and HUD.
Brownfields Support Teams will work with communities to identify site- and project-specific issues that are hindering redevelopment of key properties. Support provided by the Brownfields Support Teams may include expedited site inspections, reviews, and approvals by MassDEP; technical assistance on expedited permitting from HED; funding for assessment and cleanup from MassDevelopment; and coordination with the Attorney General’s Office on liability issues.
The Lieutenant Governor made the announcement at a Gateway Cities Compact signing event hosted by MassINC. These so-called Gateway Cities – former mill cities that continue to provide first homes and first jobs for new immigrants – have a high concentration of sites contaminated by old industrial uses that pose serious challenges for redevelopment. The new Brownfields Support Teams will concentrate initial efforts on contaminated properties located in Gateway Communities and Gateway Regions where MassDEP is providing technical assistance; Growth Districts and 43D streamlined-permitting projects identified by HED; and areas prioritized for municipal assistance by MassDevelopment. The first five sites for the pilot initiative will be announced within the next few weeks.
CHIEF EXECUTIVES OF “GATEWAY” CITIES FORM ALLIANCE TO ADVANCE A NEW URBAN AGENDA
Mayor Sarno signs on to the plan aimed at economic revitalization
BOSTON – United in their desire for economic renewal, the chief executives of 11 Massachusetts cities today signed a proclamation forming an Alliance to address the challenges and opportunities inherent in their aging economies. Named “the Gateways Compact for Community and Economic Development,” the partnership hopes to draw investment to communities outside of Boston while providing benefits such as housing, infrastructure and workers to all of Massachusetts.
“For cities like ours, which share a common industrial past and a desire to make new economic connections, the Gateways Compact offers a shared vision for sustainable economic development,” said Mayor Domenic J. Sarno, who signed the petition along with Mayors and Chief Executives from Brockton, Fall River, Fitchburg, Haverhill, Holyoke, Lawrence, Lowell, New Bedford, Pittsfield and Worcester. The signing ceremony held today at 10:30 a.m. at the Old State House in Boston was sponsored by MassINC and the UMass Dartmouth Urban Initiative, partners in enabling the Alliance. Sarno signed on to the proclamation during a meeting in his office with Lt. Gov. Timothy Murray last week.
Murray, who is the former Mayor of Worcester, praised the Gateways Compact, saying that the shared circumstances of these cities and their potential for renewal requires a collaborative and concentrated effort.
“Govenor Patrick and I enthusiastically recognize the Gateways City Compact and the value that these communities have to our overall economy. The action items that the group has identified today are important to the Patrick administration and we look forward to seeing the results of this collaboration in the form of increased investment, more jobs, and a better quality of life across the board.”
The partnership on local economic revitalization stems from recommendations outlined in last year’s MassINC/Brookings Institute report “Reconnecting Massachusetts Gateway Cities: Lessons learned and an agenda for Renewal” which studied the economic status and potential of 11 traditional mill communities outside of Greater Boston. Named the “Gateway Cities” for their historic role in attracting foreign workers, these communities were found to suffer significant job and investment losses from the decline in manufacturing over the last three decades while gaining little traction in Massachusetts’ thriving but limited “knowledge economy.”
According to MassINC’s report, since 1970, the 11 Gateway Cities studied lost more than 11,000 jobs or 3 percent of their job base, while Greater Boston’s gain of 467,000 jobs reflected a growth of 51 percent. Gateway Cities are home to 30 percent of all Massachusetts residents living under the poverty line, even though they account for only 15 percent of the state’s population. Education attainment levels remain low with just 16.5 percent of Gateway city residents possessing a four-year college degree.
The report’s recommendations also offered a promising challenge to these urban areas and the state to use these economic conditions as advantages, recognizing that Gateway cities offer potential assets in terms of middle class housing, infrastructure to pursue smart growth, and a growing, diverse work force. The report recommended seeking partnerships, like the one with the UMass Dartmouth Urban Initiative, and with each other, to bring numbers, focus and momentum to their efforts.
Through the Alliance, Gateway leaders hope to combine strategies in areas such as education, real estate investment, work force development, and transportation that bring industry and residents back into these communities. In addition to creating a formal structure that collaborates regularly, the compact includes (among others) the following initiatives:
Work with the Governor, the Legislature and state officials for a new comprehensive urban economic development vision for Massachusetts;
Provide the Commonwealth with innovative strategies to address the state’s housing, infrastructure, environmental and labor force challenges;
Market the many opportunities in the Gateway cities for economic growth;
Share and embrace best practices in areas such as public safety, education and work force development, economic development and city management.
“It is both unprecedented and incredibly pragmatic for these leaders to be coming together with a common agenda for economic reconnection,” said Ed Lambert, Executive Director of the UMass Dartmouth Urban Initiative. “By combining strategies and experiences on issues that are so consistent among these communities, the potential for real results in this area becomes that much greater.”
“We commend the leaders of the Gateway cities for their creative, collaborative and pro-active approach to reinventing themselves in light of their economic struggles, said John Schneider, Executive Vice President of MassINC. “The innovation and energy evidenced by the Compact are indicative of what is great and promising about these historic communities.”
+ + +
The Gateway Cities Compact for Community and Economic Development
Whereas since its founding the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has built economic success and an enviable quality of life by capitalizing on its unique assets and human capital, and
Whereas the Commonwealth has enjoyed one of the most successful economic transitions to a knowledge-based economy anywhere int he world over the last two decades, and
Whereas that success has attracted increased investment within the Greater Boston core but also higher costs for both businesses and residents, resulting in progressively more viable competition from lower-cost regions of the nation and the world, and
Whereas the Commonwealth’s historic Gateway Cities, as identified in the MassINC/The Brookings Institution report of February 2007, provide myriad opportunities to further the Commonwealth’s national and international competitiveness, and
Whereas the Gateway Cities offer unrealized assets to the Commonwealth, including middle-class housing, infrastructure to accommodate smart growth principles, and an expanding, energized, and diverse labor force, and
Whereas, the Commonwealth’s policy focus must alter to recognize the economic growth and financial and social potential within the Gateway Cities, and
Whereas the Commonwealth of Massachusetts must initiate a major new state-local partnership with the Gateway Cities to advance the economic vitality of both the Commonwealth and the Gateway Cities;
Now, therefore, be it
Resolved that we, the undersigned chief executives of Massachusetts’ Gateway Cities (Brockton, Fall River, Fitchburg, Haverhill, Holyoke, Lawrence, Lowell, New Bedford, Pittsfield, Springfield, and Worcester) hereby agree to form an association of municipalities to pursue common interests supporting the community and the economic revitalization of our historic cities for the purposes of contributing to the general economic well-being of the Commonwealth.
We call on this association to be built on a community of interests among the Gateway Cities and a framework of collective action developed to meet the following criteria:
- Initiate a cooperative effort to forge a common agenda with specific public policy action items to help the Commonwealth and the Gateway Cities better compete for residents, jobs, and economic growth;
- Work with the Governor, the Legislature, and state officials for a new comprehensive urban economic development vision for Massachusetts;
- Provide the Commonwealth with innovative strategies to address the state’s housing, infrastructure, environmental, and labor force challenges;
- Support the community and economic development efforts of the Gateway Cities;
- Market, promote, and facilitate the many opportunities in Gateway Cities for economic growth;
- Strengthen the Gateway Cities’ role as anchors for regional economic development;
- Forge a robust partnership among federal government, state government, local government, private enterprise, foundation, and colleges and universities to identify and support opportunities to overcome obstacles to community and economic development, including working with neighboring communities to promote an urban agenda; and,
- Share and embrace best practices in community and economic development, public safety, education and work force development, civic engagement, and city management.
We, the undersigned, commit to collaborate with the Commonwealth, our local elected representatives, and each other to establish and accomplish specific goals consistent with the framework outlined above, and pledge to remain unified in our commitment to a new urban agenda for the Commonwealth and our own municipalities.
Signatures [of the representatives of]