Gov. Charlie Baker (left) chats with Mayor James J. Fiorentini and Letriah Masters at Friday’s event. (WHAV News photograph)
Governor Charlie Baker stopped by Haverhill’s Landmark Building on Merrimack Street Friday afternoon for a meet and greet with city leaders and local small business owners to tout his administration’s TDI Local grant program, which has helped several downtown locations flourish over the past year.
“New business is coming in, people are looking at developments, people are asking to join the farmers market as new vendors. The city is in a really exciting place,” Assistant Economic Director Nate Robertson told WHAV.
Robertson was quick to point to the success of Washington Street creative space The Switchboard, whose co-owners Hailey Moschella and Sarah LoVasco used TDI Lease It Local funding to offset rental expenses for their retail art programming, gallery and performance space.
Funding like that from the Baker-Polito Administration is crucial for fledgling businesses, says Robertson, who run the risk of shuttering if they can’t cover initial operating costs.
Other local businesses able to reap the rewards of Haverhill’s $60,000 in TDI money include Kristen McVey’s gym C.R.E.W. and Pizza Al Forno, whose owner Angelo Asprogiannis received $10,000 to install street-front opening windows. Haverhill singer Letriah Masters is using her stipend to hire a full-time staff member to work at her new Merrimack Valley Music and Arts location on Washington Street.
“Over the last three years the TDI program has provided the stimulus and impetus for several small businesses who wouldn’t have been able to start up or to come to the Merrimack Street area,” Mayor James J. Fiorentini told WHAV Friday. “I grew up in Haverhill when Merrimack Street was thriving and it’s gone backwards for the last 40 years. We’re so proud now to see it having a comeback.”