For Immediate Release - January 12, 2012

$3.2M in MassWorks Grants for New Bedford

Lieutenant Governor Murray Announces $3.2 Million to Support Infrastructure and Economic Development in New Bedford

NEW BEDFORD – Thursday, January 12, 2012 – Lieutenant Governor Timothy Murray today joined state and local officials to announce a $3.2 million MassWorks Infrastructure Grant for water, sewer and roadway improvements to support the Acushnet Avenue International Market Place in New Bedford. The International Marketplace project will create 40 construction jobs, five part-time jobs and 30 full-time jobs while advancing the redevelopment of the Acushnet Avenue Marketplace.

"Our Administration continues to work with cities and towns across the state, including Gateway Cities like New Bedford, as we invest in needed infrastructure and support regional economic growth," said Lieutenant Governor Murray. “By working with the City of New Bedford through the MassWorks Infrastructure Program, we are paving the way for future development opportunities that will spur economic activity, support existing local businesses and attract new growth to the community.”

The International Marketplace project will include traffic signal improvements, utility upgrades and streetscape improvements, including: new lighting, attractive seating and planting areas, wider sidewalks, bump outs and bicycle accommodations along Achushnet Avenue from Route 18 just south of Coggeshall Street to Beetle Street.

“The Patrick-Murray Administration remains committed to creating jobs and growing the Massachusetts economy through strong investments in education, innovation and infrastructure,” said Housing and Economic Development (HED) Secretary Greg Bialecki. “The MassWorks Infrastructure Program investments, like this project in New Bedford, help leverage private development by making vital improvements to local infrastructure and allowing companies to expand and invest in the community.”

The next phase will include traffic signal improvements on Achushnet Avenue at the Ashley Boulevard and Sawyer Street intersections and streetscape improvements including lighting, utilities, attractive seating and planting areas, wider sidewalks, bump outs, bicycle accommodation, gateway structure/s, parking stations, new fencing and upgrades to the existing water and sewer system on the Avenue from Beetle Street to Holly Street. Construction of phases 1A and 1B are expected to be complete by June 2013. The city has pledged to commit $1.8 million in additional funds towards the completion of phase 1B.

“The Patrick-Murray Administration has been a great friend to New Bedford,” said New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell. “This is just the latest in a series of investments the state is making throughout the city. What is special about this project is that the state investment will not only activate development but it will create a gateway to the Acushnet Avenue commercial corridor. This is an important step toward improving the character of our public spaces and raising the quality of life for the people and businesses in this neighborhood.”  

"It has been years in the making, but the growth and development in downtown New Bedford is undeniable,” said Senator Mark Montigny. “The core group of us that worked together to secure funding at the beginning take great pride in celebrating expansion projects like the International Marketplace. New Bedford has already been recognized nationally. State funding will only enhance its reputation and make the city that much more livable and attractive to visitors.”

The MassWorks Infrastructure Program, which is overseen by the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development, held its first competitive grant round in September, consolidating six capital budget programs to give communities a single entry point and one set of requirements for state public infrastructure grants. The consolidation aimed to improve efficiencies and streamline the decision-making process, increase access for municipalities of all sizes and enhance state-regional-local partnerships around economic development and housing production. To meet these objectives, the program launched an e-application and hosted 12 online tutorials to assist municipalities with the application process. During the first grant round, 158 applications requesting more than $400 million in infrastructure grants were received from cities and towns of all sizes and representing every region of the state.

“This revitalization project is critical, because so many restaurants and small businesses are located on this stretch of Acushnet Avenue," said Representative Antonio Cabral. "The sidewalk and roadway improvements will bring more people to this neighborhood, which will support small businesses in the North End and generate positive economic activity for all of New Bedford.”

“The Acushnet Avenue improvement project will contribute significantly to the growth and sustainability of small businesses in the Northend, as well as providing job opportunities and increased economic activity,” said Representative Robert Koczera. “Northend shopping will be more pleasurable and convenient."

To learn more about the MassWorks Infrastructure Program and how it is supporting job growth and long term, sustainable economic development, please visit:  www.mass.gov/eohed/infrastructure.

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