Council: Industrial Growth Too Low; City Needs Center

Councilors say Haverhill has not fared as well as other cities in growing its industrial base.

Full City Council Agenda

Haverhill City Council President John A. Michitson.

Haverhill City Council President John A. Michitson.

Three Haverhill city councilors want the city to have a “research and training center in advanced manufacturing” to promote “long-term industrial growth” within the city’s industrial parks.

A presentation during tonight’s council meeting by President John A. Michitson, Vice President Melinda E. Barrett and Councilor Andy Vargas is expected to make the case the city “needs a leap” in its business tax base and to reverse a “sharp decline in business tax base growth in the last five years,” according to presentation documents provided to WHAV. An advance of the presentation shows industrial growth bottomed out in 2014 and this year has grown only 2 percent.

City Council Vice President Melinda E. Barrett.

City Council Vice President Melinda E. Barrett.

“Haverhill needs (a) leap in business tax base (to) meet its long term financial needs; provide good jobs at every level to reflect our diversity; turn around our challenging neighborhoods and improve our quality of life; and provide support and funding needed to continue improving public education,” a presentation outline reads.

By comparison, the presentation notes, communities such as Methuen, Lawrence, Lowell and Waltham have had much more robust industrial sector growth.

A proposed concept, in part, seeks create a so-called advanced manufacturing workforce development training center with the help of Northern Essex Community College, Haverhill High School, Whittier Regional Vocational Technical High School, UMass Lowell and private industry. It also recommends a new team in the city’s Economic Development office “address niche, value and feasibility” of a training center and business attraction features such as properties, clusters, schools and taxes.

Councilors: Schools Need to Adapt

City Councilor Andy Vargas.

City Councilor Andy Vargas.

Councilors also point to a need for city schools to better prepare for growth. They cite a state report showing, “The district does not have an up-to-date, data-driven District Improvement Plan. There is little evidence of student achievement driving budget decisions, and the two new goals developed for the district do not reflect analysis of current student achievement results,” said an excerpt included in a Department of Elementary and Secondary Education report.

Plans call for building on recently added staff within the city’s Economic Development department, headed by Director William Pillsbury. Staffers include Planner Noah Koretz, Mass Development Transformative Development Initiative (TDI) fellow; Nate Robertson, economic development; and Alison Colby-Campbell, marketing.  Robertson and Colby-Campbell are contractors paid for by partnership of Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, Greater Haverhill Foundation and the city, Michitson told WHAV today.

Such a catalyst for industrial zones, including the upper Hilldale Avenue industrial park, is being compared with efforts “spawning new commercial opportunities” with the ongoing Harbor Place development downtown, at the eastern end of Merrimack Street.

3 thoughts on “Council: Industrial Growth Too Low; City Needs Center

  1. Great Idea about 20 years late. All locations for future industrial expansion are now converted to housing, New Industry will need to build facilities from ground up thus incurring substantial costs over and above relocation expense. Perhaps the mayor is willing to look into the matter with the full support of his staff and department heads. Our mayor has delivered on all of his promises and has vastly improved conditions in the city.

    • “Our mayor has delivered on all of his promises and has vastly improved conditions in the city.”

      I’m not sure what your spiking your kool-aid with Joe, but please don’t get behind the wheel of a car!!