Boston- Today, State Senator Benjamin B. Downing (D-Pittsfield) announces the creation of a new legislative caucus dedicated to the revitalization of older, industrial, “gateway” cities across the Commonwealth. The Gateway Cities Legislative Caucus, formed late last week at a State House meeting, was created to craft solutions to the unique set of problems facing these “Gateway Cities” throughout Massachusetts.
“This caucus will bring representatives from 11 cities to the table to share ideas, proposals and lessons learned from past experiences. The goal is to provide new supports for building stronger communities. Many of these colleagues are working on similar issues in their hometowns that we are focusing on here in Pittsfield,” said Downing. “There is great energy behind this initiative and I have great hope that it will bring real results and provide new tools to local officials to further their visions for their cities.”
The eleven Gateway Cities -- Brockton, Fall River, Fitchburg, Haverhill, Holyoke, Lawrence, Lowell, New Bedford, Pittsfield, Springfield and Worcester, have lost one third of the hundreds of thousands of manufacturing jobs Massachusetts has lost since 1980. These communities contain 30% of state residents living below the poverty line, though they represent only 15% of the state’s population.
The Caucus will have a broad agenda, which may include transportation, housing and economic development issues, state aid, including and local and school aid formulas, education and training and municipal operation.
The first meeting began with a presentation from former Representative and former Fall River Mayor Edward Lambert, now director of the Urban Initiative at UMass-Dartmouth. The Urban Initiative, working with MassInc., a Boston-based think tank, offered their expertise to the Caucus as it formulates its plan.