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  • Writer's pictureFRACC

The Downtown Vitality Act: Boosting Massachusetts' Cultural and Economic Life

an image of the Massachusetts House of Representatives  building

In the vibrant city of New Bedford, a ray of hope is shining upon its downtown and other Gateway Cities across Massachusetts. The Downtown Vitality Act, though not yet a law, is on the brink of transformation. At the heart of this act is the Downtown Vitality Fund, a promising initiative aimed at reviving the cultural and economic life of districts in Gateway Cities and other low-income communities. In this blog post, we will delve into the essence of the Downtown Vitality Act, its significance, and the voices that have rallied behind this transformative idea.

What is the Downtown Vitality Act?

The Downtown Vitality Act is a visionary proposal designed to funnel 5% of remote retailer tax revenue back into Massachusetts' main streets and downtowns. This funding will support the staffing and operations of cultural districts, business improvement districts, main street associations, and parking benefit districts in Gateway Cities and other low-income communities.

For many urban centers like New Bedford and Fall River, designated as Gateway Cities, the act promises a much-needed boost. These midsize urban centers serve as anchors for regional economies and play a vital role in the socioeconomic fabric of the state.

The Endorsement of Cultural and Organizational Giants

The Downtown Vitality Act has garnered substantial support from more than 80 individuals and cultural organizations across Massachusetts. Notable endorsers include the Massachusetts Cultural Council, MassINC, Metropolitan Area Planning Council, New Bedford Whaling Museum, New Bedford Art Museum, Springfield Cultural Partnership, Fall River Arts and Culture Coalition, and Downtown Worcester Business Improvement District. This broad spectrum of support signifies the diverse and widespread appeal of the act's potential benefits.

MASSCreative Action Network: A Catalyst for Change

MASSCreative Action Network, a nonprofit organization dedicated to strengthening downtowns and small business districts, has been at the forefront of advocating for the Downtown Vitality Act. Their commitment to creating vibrant, walkable areas that attract foot traffic is vital to the success of businesses in a challenging commercial environment. The Network's dedication to enhancing the quality of life and economy in Massachusetts is truly commendable.

Town Hall Event: An Opportunity for Engagement

To further engage the public and foster a collective understanding of the Downtown Vitality Act, MASSCreative is co-hosting a Town Hall event on November 9th, 2023. This event, scheduled from 4 to 5 p.m. at the Co-Creative Center New Bedford, is open to all. It promises to be an enlightening discussion that provides valuable insights into the act and its potential impact.

The Town Hall event will feature an array of influential speakers who will shed light on the act's significance and potential. Some of the notable speakers include:

State Rep. Tony Cabral, D-New Bedford

New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell

Andre Leroux, director of the Gateway Hubs program at MassINC

Executive Director Ashley Occhino of the Fall River Arts & Culture Coalition

New Bedford Whaling Museum Director of Museum Experience and Community Engagement Jennifer Zanolli

These speakers, with their expertise and experience, will share their insights and perspectives on the Downtown Vitality Act, offering a comprehensive understanding of its potential benefits.

The Downtown Vitality Act represents a remarkable opportunity for the cultural and economic revival of Gateway Cities and low-income communities across Massachusetts. The support it has received from a diverse group of individuals and organizations speaks to the transformative power of this proposal.

If you're passionate about revitalizing downtowns, promoting cultural districts, and boosting the economic vitality of your community, the Downtown Vitality Act is an initiative that deserves your attention and support. Don't miss the opportunity to be a part of the discussion at the Town Hall event on November 9th and contribute to this promising future. Together, we can breathe new life into our cities and towns, making Massachusetts a better place for all.


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