Greenfield, Montague to participate in ‘opportunity zone’ training

  • Greenfield and Montague will be sending representatives to Washington D.C. to learn “best practices and policies to revitalize their opportunity zones,” according to Greenfield Mayor William Martin. Staff Photo/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 6/14/2019 5:49:27 PM
Modified: 6/14/2019 5:49:13 PM

GREENFIELD — Although school may be out for the summer, the city of Greenfield and town of Montague will be going to Massachusetts Opportunity Zones Academy.

Participants will travel to Washington D.C. for a kickoff training session at the National LOCUS Leadership Summit on June 22 and 23.

“The cities of Fitchburg and Salem, and teams from Greenfield/Montague and Barnstable/Yarmouth are the first six to attend,” Mayor William Martin said in a press release. “Through the Massachusetts Opportunity Zones Academy, the cities will advance nationally-recognized smart growth best practices and policies to revitalize their opportunity zones while expanding economic opportunity for their existing local residents and businesses.”

According to the release, the six cities and towns were selected through a competitive process based on their strong commitment and desire to achieve positive environmental, social and economic outcomes within their “opportunity zones.”

In Greenfield, the focus includes the downtown central business district and downtown neighborhoods from High Street to the Interstate 91 rotary, and includes the Deerfield Street corridor.

The city has been focusing attention on the downtown with a recent application for assistance with vacant storefronts and efforts to redevelop the First National Bank into a cultural arts flexspace.

“The city is also excited to support the new hotel and commercial space at Greenfield’s gateway at the rotary, and investments into properties in the downtown,” Martin said in the release.

In Montague, the opportunity zone includes the villages of Turners Falls and Montague City.

The town is focusing on redevelopment of mill sites, especially in the canal district, and is also supporting mixed-use development in downtown Turners Falls, where the recently rehabilitated Shea Theater Arts Center and upgraded public spaces have laid the groundwork for new investment.

Greenfield’s Director of Economic and Community Development, MJ Adams said Greenfield’s federal designation as an opportunity zone came about through a tax deal in December 2017. It creates incentives for investment in low to moderate income areas around the country.

Adams, Montague Town Planner Walter Ramsey and Franklin Regional Council of Governments Economic Planner Jessica Atwood will be attending the academy to learn about the new program.

“We will learn about how it works and how to make it work for our communities, as well as train and build capacity in the staffing that supports these communities,” Adams said.

Staff will also connect with experts to work with communities on planning, Adams said.

“They’ll work to identify potential properties or businesses, and what communities goals are long-term, coupled with how the program might operate,” Adams said. “We will also host a one-day session involving stakeholders to talk about how to make the opportunity zone work for everyone.”

Reach Melina Bourdeau at mbourdeau@recorder.com or 413-772-0261 ext. 263.




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