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Ash: Public-private partnership key to Apex Center expansion

Ash: Public-private partnership key to Apex Center expansion

METRO WEST DAILY NEWS – If you’ve driven along Rte. 20 lately, you’ve likely seen the transformation of Apex Center of New England in Marlborough and its surrounding roadways. To support the city’s goals of increasing capacity at Apex Center, the commonwealth provided funding through MassWorks Infrastructure Program, the state’s signature infrastructure grant. Thanks to a partnership between Marlborough and the state, the public infrastructure project is complete.

Infrastructure projects are taking place in communities all across the commonwealth this summer. Each project requires a goal-oriented partnership between the administration and the Legislature, as well as collaboration with the municipality and the developers of the project. The Apex Center of New England improvements project is no exception. Mayor Arthur Vigeant led the city-state collaboration that championed this 475,000 square foot commercial mixed-use development in Marlborough.

Marlborough sought state support through MassWorks, a competitive grant program that provides a robust and flexible source of capital funds for municipalities and other eligible public entities to complete public infrastructure projects that support and accelerate housing and job growth throughout the commonwealth.

In 2016, MassWorks awarded the Marlborough a $3 million grant to make infrastructure improvements along Rte. 20 in support of the developing Apex Center. The MassWorks funded infrastructure improvements include signalization upgrades, utility improvements, and the addition of sidewalks to ensure safety for Marlborough’s residents and visitors.

An important element of a MassWorks project is that the community taps into private funding, that without state support, it may otherwise be unable to access on its own. In addition to state funding, the Apex Center improvement project utilized $7 million in private dollars.

The new $160 million development includes two hotels, with a total of 245 rooms, multiple full service and fast casual restaurants with approximately 750 seats, retail, office and entertainment space, including a bowling alley and family-friendly trampoline park.

Through MassWorks, the state provides funds to support and accelerate job growth, housing, and economic development in Massachusetts. Here in Marlborough, Apex Center created 800 new jobs including 400 full-time and 400 part-time jobs, plus 400 construction jobs. These improvements will serve as an amenity to the residents of Marlborough and the nearly 1,700 employees that work in neighboring office parks.

At full build out, the infrastructure improvements are expected to create $1.12 million in new property tax revenue and $700,000 in one-time permitting and fees for the city. This revenue leads to long-term economic strength to supports schools, the police and fire department, sanitation, and transportation contributing to the municipal budget.

Since 2015, the Baker-Polito administration has awarded over $274 million to 134 projects in 106 communities throughout the commonwealth through the MassWorks program, including the successful Apex Center project in Marlborough. MassWorks is now accepting 2018 Applications. The application closes on Aug. 10. For more information, please visit the MassWorks site.

Gov. Charlie Baker often encourages his team to “do more of what works.” The MassWorks program is a great example. In 2016, the Baker-Polito administration provided additional capital dollars, increasing the annual funding by 60 percent to the MassWorks program to ensure the continued success of the program and to fund more transformative projects like these infrastructure improvements. Baker called for an additional $300 million in MassWorks authorization as part of the economic development bill that is currently before the Legislature. With less than a week left of formal sessions, the administration is urging the Legislature to pass the Economic Development Bill so that communities can continue to tap into MassWorks support and make the important improvements they need to thrive.

This opinion column by the Massachusetts Secretary of Housing and Economic Development, Jay Ash, originally appeared here.

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