METRO WEST DAILY NEWS – Economic development happens all around us every day. Streets are repaired, buildings are restored, zonings are changed, permits are issued, new companies move in, and old businesses grow. Much of this occurs quietly behind the scenes, so it’s no surprise that few people are aware of who is responsible.
I cannot fault our city’s residents for not knowing what the Marlborough Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) does. After all, our goal is to achieve results, not to talk about them. But since one MetroWest Daily News reader took the time to write about our organization on February 22, and his comments were way off base, I decided to take this opportunity to set the record straight.
To address the writer’s comments: contrary to his insinuation, MEDC did not use any of its operational budget to fund an Urban Land Institute (ULI) Boston study of Marlborough’s downtown area. In fact, MEDC obtained a grant from MassDevelopment, which fully financed the research, much like it had done for Dedham, Brockton, Barnstable, Framingham, and all the other communities that participated in the same program.
With that out of the way, I would like to sincerely thank the writer for providing me with a forum to outline what MEDC does.
MEDC is the state-chartered economic development arm of the City of Marlborough. It is our mission to stabilize the residential tax base by increasing the commercial tax revenue, in order to secure the future stability of our city and allow for higher quality of life for all its residents. We do this by working with municipal leaders and private investors to foster economic development, job growth, and community revitalization and expansion.
Here are some of the major MEDC achievements over the past year:
- We reduced Marlborough’s office vacancy rate to 22% in 2013, down from 34% in 2012, by facilitating the moves of more than a dozen new companies to the city.
- We created a comprehensive Master Plan, which will serve as a detailed roadmap for the future economic development of Marlborough.
- We assisted in bringing over 3,500 new jobs to the MetroWest region over the past two years.
- We spearheaded major events and PR campaigns to raised Marlborough’s regional proﬁle and position it as a leading biotech hub.
- We secured a $1.65 million dollar state grant, which will fund significant road redevelopments in Marlborough.
- We laid the groundwork for numerous infrastructure and community expansion projects, including creating the Wayside District Vision Plan, which would bring new business, boost property values and revitalize the Rt. 20 East area.
- We supported the development of youth sports organizations and events, helping Marlborough host major baseball, hockey and, for the first time ever, North America’s largest soccer tournament.
2014 is already shaping up to be a big year for MEDC and Marlborough. Earlier this month, we announced plans to bring forward substantial zoning changes in the downtown area, which will spur economic growth and create enormous value for our city. This decision was based on the ULI expert panel report, (referenced in the February 22 comments), which to reiterate came at no cost to MEDC or the city.
Together with the Mayor and City Council, we have already begun our own review of the ULI recommendations. At our first meeting on February 20, everyone agreed that creating lasting positive change should be top priority. Yet we recognize that Marlborough belongs to its residents, and any major changes will affect them the most.
That’s why we’ve launched an online survey (https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/DowntownMarlboroughSurvey) and are holding a Public Forum on April 3, 2014, 7-9pm at Masonic Hall in Marlborough. We urge all residents, business owners and officials to join us online and in person to share their vision for our downtown.
Marlborough residents, we are in this together. Together we can do what we can never do alone. Together, we will make your Marlborough the best place to live, work and play.
This Op-Ed by MEDC Executive Director Tim Cummings originally appeared in the Metro West Daily News.