Rapid Recovery Communities

The Rapid Recovery Plan Program is a non-competitive program open to every municipality within the commonwealth as part of the Baker-Polito Recovery Plan to revitalize downtowns, respond to the effects of COVID-19 on local businesses, and prioritize actions and strategies.

Table of Contents


The goals of the Rapid Recovery Plan Program include:

  1. Provide a rapid process to identify actions that will help communities recover economic losses resulting from COVID-19
  2. Offer communities an analysis of short-, medium-, and long-term recovery goals, and develop a list of Recommended Projects or actions that reflect community consensus and expert feedback
  3. Collect standardized data that can be used to demonstrate the COVID-19 impacts on downtowns throughout the commonwealth

As part of this program, communities will be matched with pre-qualified Plan Facilitators who will lead the creation of Rapid Recovery Plans that focus on actionable Recommended Projects to help communities address the impacts of COVID-19 on their local economy and on businesses within each community.

Throughout the planning process, communities will also have access to Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) who will help seed ideas and provide feedback on Project Description Sheets within their area of expertise.

Rapid Recovery Planning Process

The Rapid Recovery Planning process will take place over three phases: Phase 1 – Diagnostic; Phase 2 – Project Recommendation; Phase 3 – Plan Documentation.

Phase I will focus on diagnosing conditions in each community, cataloging COVID-19 impacts, and conducting community outreach to build community consensus around community needs.

Phase II will consist of project identification and developing project details in consultation with the Plan Facilitator, the community, and stakeholders.

All findings identified in Phase I and Phase II will culminate in Phase III, with the development of Final Rapid Recovery Plans. These plans will contain data on the impact of COVID-19, as well as actionable recovery plans for defined Study Areas. Final Rapid Recovery Plans are due to the communities and to the commonwealth on October 8th, 2021.


Phase I

Phase I will lay the foundation for subsequent phases of the program. In this phase, communities will come together with their Plan Facilitator to kick off the planning process; develop a community agreement detailing expectations, roles, and responsibilities; and work to refine their selected study area(s) as needed.

Guided by their Plan Facilitators, communities will go through a self-assessment and work to understand and assess their specific needs. Using a diagnostic approach adapted from the Commercial District Diagnostic, authored by Larisa Ortiz and published by the Local Initiative Support Corporation (LISC) with support from Citibank, communities will assess:

  1. Market Information: Trends, Communities, Demand
  2. Physical Environment: Public Realm, Private Realm, Access + Visibility
  3. Business Environment: Anchors/Destinations, Asset Mix, Nodes/Clusters
  4. Administrative Capacity: Partners, Funding, Regulations/Zoning

With this approach, Plan Facilitators will gather data and insights about their selected study area and identify opportunities to improve local conditions. Communities will also work closely with stakeholders and local members to develop consensus and create community buy-in for potential improvements.

The Commonwealth will also be developing an on-line merchant survey to provide more quantitative feedback on merchant concerns and needs. We will look to participating communities and Plan Facilitators to help distribute information about the survey and to help drive response rates from merchants within their study area.


Phase II

In Phase II, communities and Plan Facilitators will begin to synthesize the findings from the diagnostic phase and translate them into actionable project plans. Using a Recommendations Strategy Matrix, communities will identify projects, timeframes for addressing projects, and the investment required to address the projects. These projects should demonstrate a clear nexus between COVID-19 impacts and recovery.

Depending on the project interest area, communities and Plan Facilitators will have access to SMEs via webinars and consultations to address project elements requiring specific areas of expertise. These SMEs will offer insights related to Public Realm, Private Realm, Revenue and Sales, Administrative Capacity, Tenant Mix, and Cultural/Arts, and are available to help refine and seed project ideas.

Depending on the size of the community and the nature of the study area(s), communities will identify multiple projects. In many instances, projects of a larger magnitude may require a number of sub-projects. We will provide guidance on the project expectations in the coming weeks.


Phase III

At the conclusion of Phase II, Plan Facilitators will provide communities and the commonwealth with a Final Plan summarizing the Phase I diagnostic findings and Phase II Project Recommendations.

These final plans will detail:

  • Strategies to improve the Public Realm, including, but not limited to:
    • Transportation or Infrastructure Planning strategies that may include streetscape improvements, wayfinding, mobility enhancements/complete streets, broadband accessibility, Wi-Fi networks, parking management, etc.
    • Placemaking, Landscape Architecture, and Architecture and Design strategies targeted to the public realm, including placemaking investments to public spaces
  • Strategies to improve the Private Realm, including, but not limited to:
    • Redevelopment and Private Investment to privately owned properties (this may also include properties owned by nonprofit entities), including improvements to private storefronts (vacant or occupied), facades improvements, redevelopment of built assets, support for assemblages, etc.
  • Strategies to help drive Revenues and Sales for local businesses and/or nonprofit cultural institutions, including, but not limited to:
    • Marketing and Promotion strategies aimed at raising awareness of district offerings through events, campaigns, etc., to support growth in customer spending and visitors to both brick-and-mortar and online offerings of businesses within the study area.
  • Strategies to address underlying Administrative Capacity issues to support implementation efforts, including but not limited to:
    • Land Use, Zoning, Policy, and Regulations
    • Small Business Technical Assistance
  • Strategies to Improve Tenant Mix through retail retention and attraction
  • Strategies to address the needs of Cultural/Arts Organizations


Using the baseline data collected in Phase I and actionable plans developed in Phase II, communities will be able to connect with local partners and interested investors to identify opportunities for implementation funding.


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