Marlborough Economic Development Corp. aims to craft two documents in the next year: a development strategy with a set of business and residential goals, and a plan that details the actions necessary to reach those goals.
“We need this plan,” said Arthur Bergeron, chairman of the corporation’s board of directors, at the organization’s annual meeting yesterday. “This could be a very, very exciting process.”
Focus groups and public hearings will be held as a consultant team crafts the documents, said George Ciccone, the organization’s new executive director.
“Citizen participation has to be key,” he said.
The goal is that the plan will not only foster business development but will also stabilize the residential property tax rate. Part of the effort will aim at increasing occupancy in city office buildings, which have a reported vacancy rate of 18 percent, Bergeron said.
Marlborough Economic Development Corp. is expected to receive up to $450,000 in annual income now that the City Council has approved a 2 percent increase in the hotel tax. The City Council still needs to send a request to the Legislature for a home-rule petition, which would designate a specific fund for the revenue.
With the new revenue, the corporation’s draft of an estimated $600,000 budget dedicates $150,000 for the action plan and strategy. The budget allots $50,000 for an urban area coordinator who could focus on the downtown, working with landlords to fill vacancies and connecting existing businesses to visitors.
The increased budget could also help the organization develop a range of marketing materials, such as the dining and entertainment guide it helped produce for a recent sports tournament. The organization also wants to follow up with Marlborough Downtown Village, a new group that is working to improve the Main Street area after an action plan was suggested by a group of Tufts graduate students during last year’s annual meeting in January.
“We have a very aggressive agenda,” Mayor Nancy Stevens said.
This story originally appeared here