This week Lt. Governor Karyn Polito and Housing and Community Development Undersecretary Janelle Chan joined local officials to announce $300,000 in awards to 20 communities through the Massachusetts Downtown Initiative (MDI).

MDI provides communities with $15,000 grants to pursue projects that support downtown development and encourage growth. Since 2015, the Baker-Polito Administration has awarded more than $1 million to over 30 communities through the Massachusetts Downtown Initiative.

Governor Charlie Baker said, “Vibrant downtown districts that support housing, small businesses and amenities help to strengthen communities by driving local economies and attracting talent. Through programs like MDI, we’ve seen the impact a successful downtown district can have on cities and towns and the importance of enhancing existing programming as well as developing others, to create new resources for municipal officials to utilize.”

Lt. Governor Karyn Polito. “Last fall, I joined municipal officials at the 2018 Downtown Summit, and was thrilled to see the momentum building in both small towns and larger urban centers investing in their downtown districts. Our administration is committed to partnering with our municipalities, and providing powerful tools to help communities plan and execute on projects that will fuel long-term growth through walkable, lively downtown spaces.”

In October, the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) and the Massachusetts Downtown Initiative hosted the 2018 Massachusetts Downtown Summit in Lowell. The event brought together local officials, technical experts, and stakeholders to share best practices related to downtown revitalization and development. Workshops and panels explored successful strategies that cities and towns have used to promote downtown districts, and attracted nearly 200 participants.

More recently, the Baker-Polito Administration has also proposed a new downtown district coordination grant program in the FY20 budget proposal. This proposal would promote regional cooperation among cities and towns undertaking revitalization efforts, building on MDI to provide enhanced technical assistance to municipal officials.

Housing and Economic Development Secretary Mike Kennealy said, “Massachusetts depends on strong cities and towns to fuel our collective success, and through flexible programming like MDI, MassWorks, our Collaborative Workspace program, and more, we support projects that leverage private investment and local commitments. I want to congratulate all 20 of today’s awardees for their work in planning for the long-term success of their communities, and engaging with our agencies and consultants to pursue these high-impact projects.”

Housing and Community Development Undersecretary Janelle Chan said, “Dynamic downtown districts are more than one restaurant, or one store — they are the heart of a community, providing a place for neighbors to live, gather, work, and thrive. Through MDI and other technical assistance, we are eager to partner with communities to promote new housing production, small businesses success, and smart-growth strategies in their downtown districts to benefit all residents.”

The administration has awarded close to $275 million in MassWorks grants to support 138 projects in 106 communities in the same time period. These programs, in addition to affordable housing awards, the Housing Development Incentive Program, the Collaborative Workspace Program, the Economic Development Incentive Program, and further technical assistance programming provide communities with a suite of tools to further local development goals.

The Massachusetts Downtown Initiative is administered by the Department of Housing and Community Development, and funded by the Community Development Block Grant program.

2019 Massachusetts Downtown Initiatives Grant Award Winners

Town of Athol
Athol will pursue a Parking Management Strategy for the downtown district.

Town of Auburn
Auburn will implement a Wayfinding/Branding Strategy in Drury Square.

Town of Bedford
Bedford will hire a consultant to provide small business support to strengthen existing businesses and revitalize the shopping district.

Town of Billerica
Billerica will implement street design improvements to facilitate traffic in the town center.

Town of Dracut
Dracut will hire a consultant to implement a Design/Placemaking Strategy in the Navy Yard neighborhood.

Town of Groveland
Groveland will conduct a review of the economic conditions and assess the potential for new businesses.

Town of Hudson
Hudson will implement Wayfinding/Branding Strategy in their downtown district.

Town of Lexington
Lexington will use consultant services to undertake a Retail Strategic Analysis to improve the town center’s retail climate.

Town of Lincoln
Lincoln will implement a Parking Benefit District Strategy in their downtown district.

Town of Milford
Milford will undertake a Housing-Focused Zoning Study for a defined downtown corridor targeted for redevelopment.

Town of Montague
Montague will pursue an Economic and Cultural Revitalization Strategy for the Miller’s River town center district.

City of Newburyport
Newburyport will use a consultant to design a wayfinding strategy and analysis for implementation in the downtown district.

City of North Adams
North Adams will implement a Parking Management Strategy in their downtown district.

Town of Reading
Reading will leverage consulting services to assist in forming a district management entity to further downtown revitalization efforts.

Town of Shelburne
Shelburne will implement a wayfinding signage design to better manage parking in the Shelburne Falls Business District.

Town of Shrewsbury
Shrewsbury will implement a Wayfinding/Branding Strategy for the downtown district.

Town of Spencer
Spencer will employ a consultant to conduct an analysis of current and future downtown parking needs to better connect existing parking facilities.

Town of Stoughton
Stoughton will use consulting services to provide an analysis for three town-owned properties in the town center and identify potential uses.

Town of Topsfield
Topsfield will implement a Parking Management Strategy in the downtown district.

Town of Wayland
Wayland will implement a Wayfinding Strategy for the Boston Post Road/Route 20 Corridor.