Massachusetts Downtown Initiative (MDI)

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.

Business Improvement District information


Currently, MDI provides assistance through the following components:

  • 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.

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.

Eligible Applicants

Eligibility requirements vary among program components and restrictions may apply. The TA Site Visit Program is restricted to non-entitlement CDBG communities.

Technical Workshops

Technical Assistance Grantees


Wayfinding: Town of Sunderland

Wayfinding: Town of Hull

Wayfinding: Town of Clinton

Design: City of Greenfield

District Management: Town of Rockland

Economics of Downtown: Town of Athol

Economics of Downtown: Town of Dracut

Economics of Downtown: Town of West Newbury

Economics of Downtown: Town of Williamsburg

Housing: Town of Essex

Parking: Town of Medfield

Parking: Town of Shelburne

Economics of Downtown- Town of Palmer


Design: Town of Auburn

Design: Town of Holliston

District Management: Town of Hudson

Economics of Downtown: Town of Middleborough

Economics of Downtown: City of Saugus

Economics of Downtown: Town of Stoughton

Parking: City of Beverly

Parking: Town of Essex

Parking: Town of Sturbridge

Parking: Town of Stoneham

Small Business Support: City of Agawam

Wayfinding: Town of Wellesley

Wayfinding: City of Woburn