As legacies of the Commonwealth’s industrial past, Gateway Cities such as Lowell, Springfield, and Worcester are central to the state of Massachusetts’s economic future. As it is implied through its title, these cities are an opening or a “gateway,” to a large share of the state’s workforce, colleges and other important regional institutions, and significant infrastructure with excess capacity. They actively participate and contribute to the state by taking advantage of their distinctive abilities to be desirable locations for innovators, entrepreneurs, and businesses and places where hundreds of thousands of people choose to live. They also remain significant employment centers, with more than one-fifth of the state’s jobs and more than one-quarter of the states manufacturing employment. There are a few specific factors that help determine what a Gateway city is, as it is defined as a municipality with: a population greater than 35,000 and less than 250,000, a median household income below the state average, and a rate of educational attainment of a bachelor’s degree or above that is below the state average.
The city of Worcester is undoubtedly one of the largest and most important Gateway cities within the Commonwealth, as it holds the future capacity and potential for serious economic development. With its blighted and vacant industrial buildings, the city has seen some great transformations as investors have replaced them with attractive mixed-use developments that capitalize on the potential of the existing infrastructure and the basic urban form of the community. However, unstable real estate markets within the city have made it very difficult for some of the most promising and well-conceived visions to capture this value. For Gateway cities like Worcester, for both residential and commercial construction, the market gap is often as large as two-thirds of the cost of redevelopment.  The answer to this problem lies in the hands of the public investors, as targeting them for development projects that have both the scale and the quality to demonstrate value will open the door so that others can follow in their path, building with private financing.
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