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Officials talk economic development in Marlborough

May 3, 2012 — The MetroWest Daily News — Marlborough Economic Development Corp. officials are proposing several initiatives meant to spur economic activity and reduce taxes on residents.

Arthur Bergeron, the group’s executive committee chairman, gave a presentation to the Finance Committee on Monday in which he outlined several initiatives that included: increase sports tourism spending; keep better track of companies in Marlborough and surrounding towns; and create an “urban village” on Rte. 20

The group came before the Finance Committee seeking a $200,000 transfer from the Economic Development account, which is funded by a hotel rooms tax approved by the City Council in 2010. The Finance Committee voted to approve the transfer.

Bergeron said a portion of the money, which is the primary funding source for the economic development agency, will go toward new initiatives.

One of the things the office wants to do, Bergeron said, is buy customer relationship software called Salesforce.

Tim Cummings, the economic development group’s operations director, said yesterday that the software will help manage data collected on local businesses and properties through another piece of software called CoStar.

Cummings said the two programs will allow the agency to monitor properties in and out of the city to see which leases are expiring.

Mayor Arthur Vigeant, a member of the group’s team of “ambassadors,” or an agency staff member could reach out to Marlborough companies whose leases are about to expire to prevent them from moving, or contact a company in a nearby town to entice them to move to the city, Cummings said.

The agency is also looking to boost sports tourism, Bergeron said. It has received a $15,000 grant from the MetroWest Tourism and Visitors Bureau and the Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism to help expand a Thanksgiving weekend hockey tournament at the New England Sports Center.

Cummings said the agency will focus on Canadian hockey teams for the North American Fall Championship because visitors would likely visit local stores for Black Friday deals.

Cummings said an “urban village” committee led by City Council President Patricia Pope is looking into a corridor study for an eastern swath of Rte. 20 to try to increase economic activity there.

Downtown, Bergeron said, the group is in talks with the owner of 173 Main St., which was destroyed in a fire two years ago and is now a vacant lot.

Bergeron said the economic development group hopes to cheaply and temporarily lease the land from the owner to create a green space or park downtown for the summer months — until the owner comes up with a long-term plan for the property.

The agency is also looking to revamp the Taste of Marlborough festival and Brewfest to attract more visitors to downtown. Cummings said officials hope to work with event organizer Bob Kane to turn the event into a weekend-long jazz festival next year.

The story originally appeared here.