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Mayor Thomas Bernard, left of center, poses with Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito and other leaders of MDI grant communities.

North Adams Awarded State Grant for Eagle St. Business Development

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
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A consultant will provide technical assistance to Eagle Street businesses.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — North Adams is one of 19 communities — and the only one in Western Massachusetts — to be awarded a state grant to help downtown businesses. 
 
The city received $15,000 that will go toward helping existing businesses on historic Eagle Street with technical assistance. 
 
"I think it's a great thing because it will help downtown business development," Mayor Thomas Bernard said on Tuesday. "It is a great thing because it's a really solid partnership between the local businesses and the city. ... 
 
"I really like to see that kind of partnership." 
 
Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito announced the 2018 Massachusetts Downtown Initiative awards on Tuesday morning in Marlborough, which will use the funds to developing its branding and wayfinding signage. 
 
"Successful downtowns in our municipalities are an important part of what makes Massachusetts a great place to live, work, and raise a family," said Polito in a statement. "The Massachusetts Downtown Initiative connects our municipal officials to subject-matter experts in areas essential to creating and maintaining thriving downtowns with these critical characteristics."
 
Bernard attended the announcement, along with leaders from many of the other communities. He pointed out that out of the 19 awards, North Adams was the farthest west "by a darn sight."
 
The state initiative awarded $285,000 to the 19 communities. The Massachusetts Downtown Initiative program enables municipalities to access specialized expertise to support downtown revitalization efforts, and augment capacity at the local level, according to the press release. Since 2015, the Baker-Polito administration has awarded $725,000, including Tuesday's awards, to more than 25 communities across the commonwealth.
 
North Adams' grant will work somewhat in concert with the Eagle Street Initiative, a partnership between a community-led group NAMAzing Initiative and MassDevelopment through the online fundraising site Patronicity to promote and rejuvenate the landmark byway. The effort raised $60,000 that is being handled through the Partnership for North Adams. 
 
The goal is to create signage that better promote businesses and provide attractive elements, such as benches and parks, to draw foot traffic. 
 
The state development grant will allow the city to engage a consultant to work directly with the eight or so businesses on Eagle Street. 
 
"They will do a workshop talking about how to create attractive environments at the storefront level, how to do more effective marketing and promotions, a self-assessment," the mayor said. The consultants will also meet one-on-one with businesses and there may be seed money left to implement some of the ideas. 
 
Bernard also wants to keep connected with the other communities participating in the grant, saying it creates a network for sharing best practices and ideas that the city could use for the next round of grants. 
 
The MDI program awards grants of $15,000 to enable grantees to work with consultants with expertise to pursue downtown revitalization projects in one of seven categories: District Management, Design, Economics of Downtown, Parking, Small Business Support, Way Finding, and Housing.
 
Gov. Charlie Baker's fiscal 2019 budget includes a proposal to fund a new program, the Downtown Regional Grant Program, to further help communities build strong local assets through downtown revitalization efforts through collaborative efforts. And, through the economic development legislation filed in March, the Baker-Polito administration proposes creating new options for municipalities to target vacant, downtown storefronts for transformation.
 
"Through the Massachusetts Downtown Initiative, our administration is supporting downtown vitality to create jobs and strengthen our communities," Baker said in a statement. "Walkable, dynamic downtowns that house local businesses, restaurants, and amenities help make cities and towns across the commonwealth vibrant, welcoming places and retain and attract a talented workforce strengthening our economy."
 
2018 Massachusetts Downtown Initiative Awards:
 
Town of Ashland
A BID feasibility analysis for the town center will support the ongoing revitalization efforts in the center.
 
City of Beverly
A hotel feasibility study for the downtown will build on the ongoing successful revitalization efforts in the downtown. 
 
Town of Bridgewater
A branding and wayfinding strategy will strengthen the pedestrian and vehicle connections in the downtown and create a sense of place through branding.   
 
Town of Canton
A parking management strategy for the town center will be pursued as a recommended in the recently updated town master plan. 
 
Town of Chelmsford
A branding and wayfinding strategy will strengthen the pedestrian and vehicle connections in the downtown and create a sense of place through branding.     
 
Town of Dedham
A pricing and management plan will be pursued for proposed parking strategy that the town has recently developed.
 
Town of Duxbury
Community design and implementation plan for zoning/design guidelines will be pursued for Hall's Corner Business District.
 
Town of Eastham
A branding and wayfinding strategy will strengthen the pedestrian and vehicle connections in the town center and create a sense of place through branding.  
 
Town of Foxborough
A branding and wayfinding strategy will strengthen the pedestrian and vehicle connections in the downtown and create a sense of place through branding.  
 
Town of Lincoln
Small business support efforts will tie in with ongoing streetscape improvements to make South Lincoln Business District a stronger commercial area.
 
City of Marlborough
A branding and wayfinding strategy will strengthen the pedestrian and vehicle connections in the downtown and create a sense of place through branding.  
 
City of Methuen
A parking management strategy will be pursued for the downtown in support of a town center smart growth overlay district, their application as a TDI community and a MassWorks grant application.
 
City of North Adams
Small-business support for businesses along the historic Eagle Street District will build on nearby public improvements to stabilize and revitalize the district. 
 
Town of Rockland
Technical assistance will support a strong organizational effort to develop a short and long-term strategy to address issues in the town center.
 
Town of Rockport
A parking strategy will make recommendations for the optimal use of current public and private parking in the town center. 
 
Town of Shrewsbury
A parking management strategy for the town center will build on recommendations from the town’s completed master plan. 
 
Town of Spencer
The creation of design guidelines will support streetscape renovations and overall aesthetic improvements in the town center as recommended in the 2009 Town Center Revitalization Plan.
 
Town of Stow
A business district assessment and market analysis will study the economic impact of business district improvements to Stow's Lower Village. 
 
Town of Winchendon
A branding and wayfinding strategy will strengthen the pedestrian and vehicle connections in the downtown and create a sense of place through branding. Also, it will assist with design elements related to upcoming streetscape improvements.

Tags: Eagle Street,   state grant,   

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