As identified in the Tewksbury Master Plan, the benefits of forming a committee to address economic growth are invaluable, especially in light of the need and potential for economic vitality that exists in our town.
In November of 2007, at a joint meeting of the Tewksbury Board of Selectmen and Planning Board, Jay Donovan, NMCOG, Assistant Director in charge of Economic Development made a presentation on the economic development options available to the Town of Tewksbury. This meeting was made possible at the request of the Selectmen and by the receipt of a State Grant of consultant time from Northern Middlesex Council of Governments (NMCOG) for the Planning Board to investigate economic development options for the Town of Tewksbury.
After looking into several alternatives, the Selectmen and Planning Board decided to pursue the course of an Economic Development Committee with the following members: Board of Selectmen (2), Planning Board (2), Finance Committee, Local Housing Partnership, local financial community,* local real estate,* Town Manager.
(* Appointed by the Board of Selectmen)
Committee members’ terms will be for a 2 year period; the scope of work includes:
- Review and provide a long term recommendation for the type of future Economic Development organization
- Develop a Charter for the Committee, including a Mission Statement and goals, utilizing the Master Plan as a guide
- Review and recommend utilization of State programs
- Potentially designate Economic Target Area locations
- Develop local marketing plan
- Outreach to local business community and property owners
Appointments to the new Economic Development Committee (EDC) took place and the committee members are as follows:
* Chairman, David Plunkett, Esq. Planning Board
* Todd Johnson, Esq., Board of Selectmen
* David Gay, Board of Selectmen
* Nancy Reed, Planning Board
* Ron Hall, Finance Committee
* Steve Deackoff, Local Housing Partnership
* Tracy Clement, Enterprise Bank
* David O’Brien, Real Estate Representative
* David Cressman, Town Manager
The first matter of attention for the newly formed EDC was to address the opportunity for Tewksbury to designate the land on the west side of I-93 as a Priority Development Site under MGL Chapter 43D. The committee members had many questions about the process and expectations in moving forward with this endeavor. It was decided to have a conversation with April Anderson Lamoureux, State Permit Ombudsman, head of the Massachusetts Permit Regulatory Office and Chair of the Interagency Permitting Board.
A presentation and overview of MGL Chapter 43D, Priority Development Site, was made to the committee by Ms. Lamoureux in March 2008.
As a result of much discussion, the Economic Development Committee voted to submit a Town Meeting article to designate an area of the Highway Corridor Overlay District located on the west side of I-93, as a Priority Development Site (PDS) under MGL Chapter 43D. The Town will potentially avail itself of up to $150,000 for the development of design guidelines, infrastructure analysis, legal agreements, and permitting requirements.
Tewksbury will continue to work with Andover, Wilmington and various stakeholders through the efforts of the Tri-Town Task Force where there is a proposed interchange off of I-93, known as the Lowell Junction. The application for the Grant will be submitted for the September 2008 round of applications.
In June 2008, the committee discussed the success at May Town Meeting of their Priority Development Site (PDS) under MGL Chapter 43D article. Andover and Wilmington were also successful with their respective articles. This will be a Priority Development Site application in which all 3 communities will be submitting for a state grant of $150,000 each, for a total $450,000, to be used for upfront planning and design to advance the Tri-Town Unified Development Vision.
The committee members realize the benefit of the progress made in the I-93, Lowell Junction area, but noted that there are many other areas of potential economic growth in the Town and these should be addressed as soon as possible.
The Economic Development Incentive Program (EDIP) was one alternative of interest to the group. Tewksbury’s participation in the EDIP would offer new or expanding businesses various potential financial incentives and would place us on equal marketability with other area EDIP communities, such as, Lowell and Billerica. An extensive overview of the Economic Development Incentive Program (EDIP) was made by Peter Milano, Senior Regional Director of the Massachusetts Office of Business Development in April 2008. Committee members inquired about the possibilities of our town establishing Economic Target Areas (ETA). This is an option that the committee is currently exploring.
At the suggestion of Jay Donovan, the committee welcomed guest speaker, John DiNapoli, Director of Business Services, Massachusetts Alliance for Economic Development (MAED) at its meeting in July 2008. MAED is a non-profit organization, which is part of the State’s Economic Resource Team. MAED receives leads from companies seeking locations. MAED maintains an Internet Website, with listings of available properties.
The committee members recognized the importance of forming partnerships with groups, such as MAED, who promote Massachusetts as a profitable and viable place to locate businesses.
Mr. DiNapoli noted that due to Tewksbury’s location, recent infrastructure improvements and access to two Interstate Highways, our town is well suited for potential companies.
Looking toward the future, the Tewksbury EDC is planning to widen its scope of outreach. Preparations are being made to place the Economic Development Committee’s information on the town’s website as a resource for promoting our town. (Maybe this will be done before we do the press release.) Activities such as; communication with the town’s business property owners, and a breakfast meeting of the Committee with business owners of the town and State economic development leaders, are potential options the Committee is exploring to build on existing relationships and attract sustainable new growth to our town.