Mr. Vargas Goes to Washington; Reports on Business Leads

U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s Chief of Staff Daniel H. Geldon meets with Haverhill City Councilor Andy Vargas in Washington, D.C. (Courtesy photograph.)

While in Washington, D.C., City Councilor Andy Vargas attended President Barack Obama’s press briefing, (Courtesy photograph.)

While in Washington, D.C., City Councilor Andy Vargas attended President Barack Obama’s press briefing. (Courtesy photograph.)

A Haverhill city councilor is seeking to help local businesses benefit from a federal Small Business Administration (SBA) program to help “gain preferential access to federal procurement opportunities.”

Haverhill City Councilor Andy Vargas recently attended “productive, informative” meetings in Washington, D.C, with staff from U.S. Senators Edward J. Markey and Elizabeth Warren’s offices, “to ensure that Haverhill’s priorities stay on both senators’ radar,” according to a statement released by Vargas Monday night. It did not specify a date, but reportedly occurred while Vargas was in Washington “also attending a press briefing at the White House, where the president discussed the country’s economic turn around, citing figures such as unemployment down below 5 percent.” In discussions with Warren’s Chief of Staff Dan Geldon and Deputy Chief of Staff for Economic Development Bruno Freitas, Vargas was “informed” of SBA’s “Historically Underutilized Business Zones (HUBZone) program,” according to a spokesperson.

“Vargas later confirmed that Haverhill falls within the HubZone map and will be following up with Haverhill businesses that might benefit from this program,” the release said.

The HUBZone program was enacted into law as part of the Small Business Reauthorization Act of 1997, according to a statement on SBA’s website. “SBA's HUBZone program is in line with the efforts of both the administration and congress to promote economic development and employment growth in distressed areas by providing access to more federal contracting opportunities.”

To qualify, a business must “be a small business by SBA standards; it must be owned and controlled at least 51 percent by U.S. citizens, or a community development corporation, an agricultural cooperative, or an Indian tribe; its principal office must be located within a “historically underutilized business zone,” which includes lands considered “Indian Country” and military facilities closed by the Base Realignment and Closure Act; and at least 35 percent of its employees must reside in a HUBZone.”

According to Vargas, one economic development action item will be to “work closely with Economic Development Director Bill Pillsbury and Mass Development to clearly identify and market Haverhill commercial and industrial properties.”

“One of the barriers to promoting Haverhill as a strong candidate for a prospective business, is the lack of easy access to information such as a catalog of all commercial and industrial properties,” Vargas said.

Other meetings between Vargas and staffers, including Markey’s Senior Policy Advisor John Phillips and Regional Director Kate Machet, “had a particular focus on economic development, renewable energy, and the opioid crisis,” a spokesperson said. Vargas also “touched on the need for a firetruck,” according to the statement. However, no details were provided about “opioid crisis” discussions.

On the subject of renewable energy, Vargas reportedly will “explore opportunities to lower energy rates for Haverhill residents, particularly through the use of solar.”

“Vargas will look to work with civic organizations, neighborhood groups and other key stakeholders to disseminate information on the economic benefits and opportunities of residents going solar,” the release reported.

7 thoughts on “Mr. Vargas Goes to Washington; Reports on Business Leads

  1. ACORN Andy Goes To Washington !

    Under what authority did you set these meetings? Was this trip and the meetings you had done with the knowledge and involvement of the city council or Mayor Taxman’s office?

    Did you have any discussions with city council president Mitchitson, or the council at large, to establish priorities of what to discuss with the people you met with?

    Did you discuss the meetings with ANY elected city officials prior to putting out a press release so as to not make it look like the council is just a bunch of self-centered attention grabbing hacks who don’t have a coordinated master plan to benefit the taxpayers?

    When the other city councilors read this article is this the first time they will have heard news of this trip? (Other than them calling each other and discussing it among themselves because you’ve alienated them during your campaign and now this being your first act as an elected official).

    ACORN Andy, for someone who aspires to make their career in politics you know nothing about being political.

    And Andy, since you’re appearance on the WHAV Open Mike Show where you confirmed you read the comments here, why not be a big boy and personally answer comments directed to you here. Whining about it later is just so childish.

        • Well, Jack likes to call people out from behind a keyboard on news website message boards, he does so on at least a dozen sites daily. As you mentioned, it’s not difficult to contact these people, but doing so would involve identifying himself – which he clearly isn’t going to do. It’s not hard to figure out who he is, however.

      • I call city councilors “ALL THE TIME”!!!
        Or at least I try to. Have you ever done it yourself??? There are only two people on the city council who actually take calls…Bill Macek and Mike McGonagle. The rest of them NEVER answer their phone….and I mean NEVER !!!

        What’s wrong with “calling them out” as you call it? This is a PUBLIC forum, which if you ever talk to anyone in city government you’d know, all of them read. With literally thousands of people reading this site daily this is a much more public forum than a city council meeting is. Aren’t the questions and information I wrote relevant to the story, especially since they weren’t reported? In this case, don’t people have a right to know if Vargas did this independently without even communicating with his colleagues on the council prior to his trip? Maybe you don’t think so, but I believe that should be public information. If he didn’t communicate in advance of a meeting as an elected official of the city without discussing it with his peers, don’t we have a right to know what they think about that? And it should be public information because Andy, in his short history in city politics, is already known to have a track record among other councilors of going it alone on issues to attract all the attention for himself…..Something Boomer, which you’d know if you talked with ANYONE in city government.

        • Well, if I was here every day bashing people and looking for answers and not ever getting them, I might try another avenue…..like in person where they have to address you. Just a thought. We all know that will never happen though. Have a great day buddy!

          • Boomer, are you aware that Fiorentini and Methuen mayor Zanni put tremendous pressure on Eagle Tribune Editor Al White to change that paper’s comment forum? The pressure on those two mayors was incredible because of people going on the ET site and adding additional unreported information to stories in the ET. Because the ET is slowly going out of business they traded their reader’s free speech in exchange for the promise of breaking news coming from these cities. Have you noticed since they did that there is literally no ‘news’ about either city, other than puff pieces of these mayors pitching their pet projects? .

            But it doesn’t end there, Boomer. Fiorentini is at it again by trying to pressure WHAV to change this forum to silence commenters, like he did with the ET. He’s feeling the pressure from those of us who believe this is a valuable tool to publicly ask questions and provide information that otherwise goes unreported.

            You have a great day too Boomer!