Monday, December 27, 2010

Last part of Gateway Cities series

This Sunday was the last of I believe six Boston Globe editorials on the Commonwealth's Gateway Cities - or the economically disadvantaged cities in the state that are still, decades after losing their economic reason for existing, struggling to find footing (article).

This one focuses a bit on Haverhill, a city I've come to know fairly well, and compares it to Lowell, which it says is looked at as a model city for the others in the group.

If you missed the rest of the series, I'd recommend trying to find it.  I believe "gateway cities" appears in every article in the series.  There was great information on the economic and social issues that confront our older and poorer cities, and ideas for how to take advantage of their remaining strengths.

4 comments:

  1. I thought the articles were pretty good. The two biggest things I took from them and the readers comments is that the Gateway Cities need to unite and that Boston's rise has meant our fall. Look what Boston and Cambridge are doing to keep business there...http://www.boston.com/business/technology/articles/2010/12/17/two_cities_one_goal_get_keep_tech_jobs/
    Lowell alone cannot take on Boston/Cambridge but through the collective efforts of the Gateway Cities we should be able to come up with ideas/legislation that can help us compete.

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  2. One struggle Lowell has relative to Boston/Cambridge is what Adam Baacke has called the "gap". That gap is a measure of the difference in return-on-investment between the two areas. Whereas the investment costs are nearly the same (slight labor differences), the return (rents and sales prices) are much lower in Lowell. Historic tax credits help, and being designated a green community may have some advantages, but Lowell needs much more to level the playing field. I guess that is the challenge of any Gateway City.

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  3. Joe,
    Are you talking commercial real estate investments? So developers won't build new office space in downtown Lowell because of a low ROI. Makes sense but why then is there so much office space in Chelmsford, Billerica, Tewksbury. Because of our car centric culture of course. We need to convince developers and businesses looking to expand/relocate that downtown Lowell is THE low cost,smart growth,culturally diverse alternative to Boston/Cambridge.

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  4. Brian,
    Yes, commercial real estate investments primarily, but the same would hold for condos and upscale apartments.

    The surrounding towns generally have lower costs for development because of available space (parking lots instead of parking garages), virgin land (reduce environmental clean-up costs) and a more favorable tax classification.

    But the City could turn some of these negatives inside-out if we could convince the State and Federal governments to support re-use of land from an environmental point-of-view (already Brownfields help). The benefits of work/live/play in close proximity should be converted into an environmental benefit (fewer highways and bridges to build and maintain, and much less carbon dispersion in the process). Well-stated, these benefits could translate into economic incentives to make cities more attractive investments.

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