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Good News Just Got Better

I was very excited about the recent news that the “Renewal Community Zone” designated area has been expanded.

This federal designation, given to only twenty-eight urban communities in the en-tire United States, features many tax incen-tives that businesses can capitalize on. The important concept is that this is not an auto-matic cash-back program, but one that is investment driven and has $17 billion avail-able to willing investors inside the zone.

This expansion is huge for the employers and investors, as well as the employees looking for an opportunity to live and work in the City of Lawrence.  What people have to understand is that this is an important benefit that can be shared by small stores or pizza shops as well as larger employers like New Balance or Sal's Riverwalk.

The Office of Planning and Development will be sponsoring a forum at the Lawrence Heritage State Park in June as an effort to provide the business community with information on the benefits of this exciting designation.

This group discussion will include a complimentary information guide, which is published by HUD, and also a number of guest speakers and accountants, which will allow people to maximize the benefits that are available to them.

I hope everyone who can attend this session will formulate a business plan around this new benefit and other help the city and state have to offer to grow their businesses.

Many employers have already expressed that they would love to be in a position to expand their business with more workers and also be able to pass some of these savings along to their employees in the form of better wages and benefits.  Either way you look at this, it becomes a win/win for the economic development of Lawrence and that’s certainly good news getting better.

Unemployment Rate Drops to Single Digits

My office has also launched an aggressive marketing campaign, which asks employers and businesses to “take a good look at Lawrence,” and apparently they have been listening.  The unemployment rate just dipped below the double-digit numbers to 9.8 percent and members of the Workforce Investment Board are very optimistic for continued progress.  This figure is in stark contrast to the 14.7 percent unemployment figures reported in January 2002 at the beginning of my term as mayor.

I really feel that this last year we had our house in order and the welcome mat out with a lot to offer new and expanding businesses.

With the redevelopment of our mills, the newly expanded benefits of the Renewal Community Zone designations and the infrastructure improvements to an already extremely accessible city, businesses can’t overlook the opportunities that Lawrence Massachusetts has to offer.

The good employment figures come on the heels of a recent Municipal Job Fair and just before an exciting Latino Career Expo that was partially sponsored by the City of Lawrence and is being hosted for the first time in Lawrence. 

There is also a strong effort being made to increase literacy programs in the city and the Merrimack valley. Linking businesses to the many benefits of low cost, great transportation options and a readily trainable workforce has been a major goal of the Sullivan Administration.

As the lead elected official of the Merrimack Valley Workforce Investment Board, I have worked hard to recognize and reconstitute the board so that it could become a catalyst for the entire area.  Business owners now know that Lawrence is a great place to live, start a business and raise a family!

Boston Magazine Proclaims Lawrence, Massachusetts as ”One of the Best Places to Live”

A recent edition of Boston Magazine (April 2005) has cited Lawrence as the top city in Massachusetts in the “Do-it-yourself” category.

The magazine, which rates cities and towns throughout Massachusetts each year against a broad variety of criteria (affordability, crime, schools, etc.), wrote the following about Lawrence:

“After decades of being cherry-picked, most towns are lucky to have a single slab ranch left that hasn’t been redone.  The exceptions are the old manufacturing cities that still have farmhouse colonials ripe for renovation.  Lawrence has the biggest and best selection of houses under $250,000.”

“This sturdy mill town has reinvented itself over the past decade, and offers an incredible inventory of housing opportunities for people looking to get value for their dollar,” Sullivan said.

A combination of ongoing public works projects and capital improvements has made Lawrence a great place for investment, and we welcome to our city anyone who wants to be part of our revitalization.

For more information on the City of Lawrence, please call the Mayor’s Office at (978) 794-5858.  

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Prior Columns By Mike Sullivan