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BOSTON – MassDevelopment has awarded $390,000 in grants to nine organizations to implement outdoor dining, business signage improvements, district branding and marketing plans, placemaking and wayfinding projects, public events, and more through locally developed business assistance programs in Gateway Cities. The grants were awarded through MassDevelopment’s Transformative Development Initiative (TDI) Local program.


“Massachusetts’ Gateway Cities are home to dynamic downtowns with one-of-a-kind shops and restaurants,” said Housing and Economic Development Secretary Mike Kennealy, who serves as chair of MassDevelopment’s Board of Directors. “As these neighborhoods recover from the impacts of COVID-19, MassDevelopment’s TDI Local awards will provide a timely boost to help businesses attract and welcome patrons through their doors.”


“At the heart of today’s awards is funding unique programs aimed at expanding businesses, improving storefronts, and adding vibrancy to downtown commercial corridors in Gateway Cities,” said MassDevelopment President and CEO Dan Rivera. “MassDevelopment is pleased to be working on the ground with community organizations to accelerate economic growth in Gateway Cities through our Transformative Development Initiative (TDI), including collaborating to build support for the local economy.”

MassDevelopment’s Transformative Development Initiative works with cross-sector partnerships in targeted commercial districts in Gateway Cities in order to engage community members, implement local economic development initiatives, and spur further public and private investment. During the program’s first five years, MassDevelopment has invested $18 million in TDI districts through tools such as technical assistance, real estate investments, grant programs, and fellows who work in the districts. That investment has directly influenced over $78.7 million in public and private investments in the districts, and assisted an additional $84 million.

Created in 2017, TDI Local is a small-business grants program that supports local market development by fostering business, resident, and property-owner engagement, building community identity, and improving the public realm in TDI districts. In 2020, MassDevelopment redirected resources from the program budget to develop TDI Local COVID-19 Emergency Grants as a direct response to the emergency faced by Gateway City small businesses impacted by COVID-19-related closures or loss of business. From 2020-2021, MassDevelopment awarded $1,055,000 in TDI Local COVID-19 Emergency Grants to 10 organizations to provide relief for small businesses.

For this round, fiscal agents in TDI districts in Chelsea, Chicopee, Fall River, Fitchburg, Lawrence, Springfield, and Worcester (Main South) will receive $30,000 district grants. Fiscal agents in these communities, as well as fiscal agents in the areas of Attleboro, Barnstable, and Brockton served by TDI, were eligible to apply for additional competitive grants of up to $50,000.

The following projects received TDI Local awards:


City of Attleboro (Attleboro) – $35,000

The City of Attleboro will use a $35,000 competitive grant to develop a business signage program allowing eligible small storefront businesses in downtown Attleboro to receive sign design and production assistance at a low cost. Through the new Downtown Attleboro Co.Sign Program, the city will contract directly with a turnkey sign manufacturer to design and produce at least 10 permanent business signs on behalf of local businesses.


PROVA! (Brockton) – $35,000

PROVA! is a vacant space-activation strategy featuring performances, food, and drink that brings community members together in underutilized outdoor places. This $35,000 competitive grant will support the next iteration of PROVA! in Sycamore Grove, in which the event will also act as a restaurant incubator. Funds will be used to pay businesses that participate at the event as vendors, as well as cover staff and marketing costs.


Chelsea Business Foundation (Chelsea) – $65,000

Chelsea Business Foundation will use a $30,000 district grant to help restaurants improve their outdoor dining capabilities by providing funds and technical assistance for the design and implementation of outdoor dining spaces, and by guiding Latinx-owned and other small businesses through the permitting process and regulations for outdoor dining. The organization will use a $35,000 competitive grant to expand the City of Chelsea’s signage improvement pilot program, which helps businesses create a cohesive design consistent with their offerings.


Greater Chicopee Chamber of Commerce (Chicopee) – $30,000

The Greater Chicopee Chamber of Commerce will use a $30,000 district grant to support marketing efforts for the Chicopee TDI District, create a website with information about local businesses, and provide assistance to businesses for outdoor dining spaces, storefront improvements, and equipment and fit-out costs.


Bristol County Chamber Foundation (Fall River) – $65,000

The Bristol County Chamber Foundation will use a $30,000 district grant to hire a full-time downtown coordinator to implement local projects, as well as fund marketing materials and videography. The organization will use a $35,000 competitive grant to create a Main Street Makeover Fund that will provide grants for projects that serve the downtown business community, create a lasting positive visual impact on the district, and are accompanied by private investment.


Fitchburg State University (Fitchburg) – $40,000

Fitchburg State University will use a $30,000 district grant and a $10,000 competitive grant to support the Fitchburg TDI Partnership’s storefront improvement efforts, deploying funding for technical assistance, storefront improvements, lease subsidies for startups and growing businesses, and other strategic projects.


Essex Art Center (Lawrence) – $30,000

The Essex Art Center will use a $30,000 district grant to implement a key component of a Downtown Action Strategy, which was funded and managed by the Lawrence TDI Partnership, that includes improving pedestrian and auto-oriented placemaking and wayfinding on the corridor from Island Street and Canal Street into downtown Lawrence. The Canal Activation Program aims to create temporary creative visual markers, including asphalt and sidewalk art and a flash flower field installation, which are aimed at helping establish a future downtown arts and culture district.

Downtown Springfield BID (Springfield) – $30,000

The Downtown Springfield BID will use a $30,000 district grant to support its Destination Downtown Initiative aimed at increasing foot traffic to local businesses affected by the pandemic. The organization will specifically fund events, placemaking, marketing, aesthetic improvements, and other amenities.


Main South Community Development Corporation (Worcester) – $60,000

The Main South Community Development Corporation will use a $30,000 district grant to implement a branding and marketing plan, which was funded and managed by the Worcester TDI Partnership, to improve wayfinding and district perception. The organization will fund the printing and installation of banners for light poles on Main Street, decals for local businesses, printing and associated stands for neighborhood maps, and street signage pointing towards district assets. The organization will also use a $30,000 competitive grant to complete a large storefront improvement program that will remake the facades of a prominent block in the neighborhood, 818-830 Main Street.


Defined by the Massachusetts General Laws, Gateway Cities are small to midsized cities in Massachusetts (population of between 35,000 and 250,000) that anchor regional economies around the state, with below state average household incomes and educational attainment rates. The Legislature defines 26 Gateway Cities in Massachusetts, including Attleboro, Barnstable, Brockton, Chelsea, Chicopee, Everett, Fall River, Fitchburg, Haverhill, Holyoke, Lawrence, Leominster, Lowell, Lynn, Malden, Methuen, New Bedford, Peabody, Pittsfield, Quincy, Revere, Salem, Springfield, Taunton, Westfield, and Worcester.

MassDevelopment, the state’s finance and development agency, works with businesses, nonprofits, banks, and communities to stimulate economic growth across the Commonwealth. During FY2020, MassDevelopment financed or managed 341 projects generating investment of more than $2.69 billion in the Massachusetts economy. These projects are estimated to create or support 10,871 jobs and build or preserve 1,787 housing units.