Governor Deval Patrick’s administration will spend hundreds of millions of dollars this summer building roads and highway ramps for at least five struggling private developments - from the former Naval air station in Weymouth to Somerville’s Assembly Square - in hopes of jump-starting construction and the local economy.The better news is just where these projects are proposed -- these are places ripe for job growth, many of which have a particular need for good jobs.
The money, a combination of federal stimulus money and state funds, will not go directly to the private developers, but rather for public works that Patrick aides said they expect will make it easier for companies to arrange financing in otherwise tight credit markets. That, in turn, would kick off construction of the planned office parks, shopping centers, housing, and hotels that will create new jobs.
Although more projects may be chosen later, the ones already approved include not only SouthField in Weymouth and Assembly Square, but a new business park in Fall River that will recruit biotech companies, the Westwood Station project, and Waterfront Square at Revere Beach.I'm particularly excited about the Fall River and Revere projects. Revere's project will be right across the street from Wonderland. There's a Blue Line station right there and plenty of further development opportunity, quite likely in Wonderland itself (it is closing, after all), which may be spurned on by these investments. Fall River is just an economically depressed city - the family median income is around $25k. It needs those jobs desperately. The thing about Fall River (and New Bedford) that makes it a great place for entrepreneurs is that the property there is dirt cheap - way cheaper than the rest of the Massachusetts, cheaper than the Tri City area in NC that's been siphoning off some biotech jobs. It's also close enough to the Boston area that it still has access to recruiting the top talent in the US for biotech or other high-tech jobs, not to mention a great university next door (UMASS Dartmouth), as well as plenty of Universities in Rhode Island, in and near Providence.
Here's hoping two years from now we can see tangible results from these major economic developments. It's just a start, but it's an illustration of the fact that Deval Patrick and his administration are serious about making sure the economic success that Boston's enjoyed over the years will finally be distributed throughout the state, in all our gateway and former mill cities that have been struggling for decades.