For Immediate Release - July 22, 2009

PATRICK-MURRAY ADMINISTRATION ALLOCATES MORE THAN $12 MILLION THROUGH 'COMMUNITIES COUNT' INITIATIVE TO CITY OF WORCESTER

State partnership will leverage federal and state dollars to create jobs and stabilize neighborhoods

WORCESTER - Wednesday, July 22, 2009 - As part of the Patrick-Murray Administration's Massachusetts Recovery Plan to secure the state's economic future, Governor Deval Patrick today announced that the City of Worcester will join a new state partnership with local communities to leverage federal and state dollars to create jobs, stabilize neighborhoods hit hard by foreclosures and offer resources to boost local businesses during the current economic downturn.

The Massachusetts Communities Count initiative will leverage more than $12.3 million in state and federal funds for Worcester and utilize them to acquire, rehabilitate or demolish foreclosed properties, weatherize homes for low-and moderate-income homeowners, offer job training for at risk youths. Additionally, the funds will support small business and consumer affair assistance and efforts to end homelessness in the city. Communities Count was initially launched last month in the City of Springfield, and will be duplicated in several communities throughout the Commonwealth that have developed comprehensive revitalization plans.

"This initiative is a comprehensive and innovative approach to leveraging all available resources in order to insure that we are fighting the effects of foreclosure, creating job opportunities and bringing long term economic prosperity to our cities and towns," said Governor Patrick.

"The Communities Count initiative will continue our efforts to revitalize neighborhoods like the Main South/Piedmont/Chandler area of Worcester," said Lieutenant Governor Timothy Murray. "Through this initiative, we can offer relief to hard working families and support the city's efforts to promote economic growth and development."

"Communities thrive when they have the resources to revitalize neighborhoods, offer job training, assist small businesses, combat homelessness and create job opportunities. This initiative promises an improved quality of life and greater economic opportunities for hundreds of hard working families in Worcester and throughout our state," said Senator Kerry.

"I'm very pleased to see significant federal resources allocated to this important initiative," Rep. Jim McGovern said. "Revitalizing the Main South neighborhood has been a long-time passion of mine. The comprehensive approach of the Community Counts project is a smart, effective use of limited resources."

The Patrick-Murray Administration will work with federal, local and private partners to allocate roughly $4.73 million to Worcester for weatherization and heating system upgrades of an average of $5,500 in an estimated 361 low-income households over the next three years, including approximately 120 in the Main South/Piedmont/Chandler target area. As part of that program, and in keeping with the Administration's commitment to create opportunities for young people throughout Massachusetts, Communities Count also creates an energy conservation/efficiency employment program for local at-risk youth.

"During the performance of my duties as Chairman of the Joint Committee on Community Development & Small Business and through local meetings with my constituents, I have witnessed the many issues facing our cities and towns. Given the current economic challenges facing the country we need to be precise and efficient in targeting where federal and state funds can provide the most relief," said Senator Michael O. Moore. "This initiative is a wonderful example of how the federal government can work with state and municipal entities to address the critical issues facing our communities, such as job creation, providing foreclosure relief and assistance to our local small businesses."

Approximately $2.39 million in federal stabilization funds will be targeted to revitalize foreclosed properties in the city's hard hit Main South/Piedmont/Chandler neighborhoods. The state's Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation will also host a workshop today at Worcester Technical High School to connect homeowners with lenders to discuss potential solutions to loan problems and help keep people in their homes. Additionally, the Office of Small Business and Entrepreneurship, in partnership with the Worcester Business Resource Alliance and the Martin Luther King Empowerment Center, will host a workshop to help small businesses cope with the current economy.

"The City has developed a plan for public investment in the Main South neighborhood that relies on partnerships with the state and federal government," said City Manager Michael V. O'Brien. "The investment highlighted in today's announcement is critical to implementing this plan, and we intend to measure our progress by using key indicators to demonstrate our success. The leadership of the Patrick-Murray Administration in investing in the Commonwealth's urban cores, and in particular Lieutenant Governor Tim Murray and Congressman Jim McGovern on behalf of the city of Worcester, has brought dollars to our community that will allow us to make a real impact in a residential neighborhood that is also a gateway to our downtown."

"The Massachusetts Communities Count Initiative provides a timely stimulus for communities who have experienced ambitious and comprehensive inner city revitalization efforts stall as a result of the current recession," said J. Stephen Teasdale, Executive Director Main South CDC. "This initiative is unique and exciting in that it targets specific hard hit areas and takes a holistic approach to the revitalization of that community."

"Worcester Community Action Council, a partner in the economic development agenda of the region, is dedicated to helping people move to self sufficiency through education, employment, energy programs and asset development. We are honored to be a key partner in this holistic approach to helping individuals and families while concurrently stabilizing neighborhoods as our work is grounded in strong alliances," said Jill C. Dagilis, Executive Director of WCAC.

Investments in housing and job opportunities are critical components of the Patrick-Murray Administration's Massachusetts Recovery Plan, which combines state, federal and, where possible, private efforts to provide immediate and long-term relief and position the Commonwealth for recovery in the following ways:

  • Deliver immediate relief by investing in the road, bridge and rail projects that put people to work today and providing safety net services that sustain people who are especially vulnerable during an economic crisis;

  • Build a better tomorrow through education and infrastructure investments that strengthen our economic competitiveness, prepare workers for the jobs of the future and support clean energy, broadband and technology projects that cut costs while growing the economy; and

  • Reform state government by eliminating the pension and ethics loopholes that discredit the work of government and revitalize the transportation networks that have suffered from decades of neglect and inaction.

For more information, please visit www.mass.gov/recovery and www.mass.gov/foreclosure.

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