Program Description

DHCD's Massachusetts Downtown Initiative (MDI) offers a range of services and assistance to communities seeking help on how to revitalize their downtowns. The primary mission of the MDI is to make downtown revitalization an integral part of community development in cities and towns across the Commonwealth. MDI's guiding principles are that the most effective approach to downtown revitalization is a holistic one; that it addresses economic and community development needs; and that it provides a framework of interrelated activities that promote positive change in a downtown to keep it healthy and prosperous.

Successful downtown revitalization is comprehensive and includes a well-balanced community strategy composed of seven downtown building blocks:

Encouraging Community Involvement & Ownership;
Preserving & Enhancing Downtown Character;
Ensuring Economic Vitality;
Promoting Downtown Assets;
Getting Into & Around Downtown;
Living Downtown; and,
Keeping Downtown Safe.

How it Works:

Communities should contact the Division of Community Services (DCS) to access the technical assistance components of the Massachusetts Downtown Initiative. Currently, MDI provides assistance through:

1. "Desktop" Technical Assistance
Ongoing technical assistance on downtown-related issues is provided by staff via telephone, fax, and written materials based on requests from communities as well as referrals from DHCD staff. Recent requests have included how to develop business recruitment programs, upper story spaces, and downtown organizational bylaws.

2. Technical Assistance Site Visit Program
The Downtown Technical Assistance Site Visit Program provides assistance to communities targeting specific issues related to a community's downtown revitalization efforts. The type of assistance needed is determined through an initial site visit by DHCD staff that may be supplemented by assistance from an outside consultant. The goal of this technical assistance is to address and overcome obstacles to a community's downtown revitalization efforts.

3. Website
Information on downtown revitalization is available on DHCD's website:
www.mass.gov/dhcd

4. Education and Training
MDI is charged with development of downtown education and training opportunities that meet the needs of communities at various stages of downtown revitalization. A series of workshops is held each year on topics such as business recruitment and retention, design issues, creating a business improvement district, or upper-story housing.

For More Information:

Please contact DHCD's Division of Community Services at 617-573-1400.
Division staff is also available by appointment to provide assistance with applications.