Michitson: Haverhill Master Plan Good Start, But More Must Be Done to Bring Industry Here

Haverhill City Councilor John A. Michitson. (Courtesy photograph.)

Haverhill’s success in the future depends on strategic thinking and innovation in the present.  That was the conclusion of a presentation by Councilor John A. Michitson at Tuesday’s City Council meeting.

Michitson began by praising the work of Mayor James J. Fiorentini and fellow Councilor Mary Ellen Daly O’Brien in shepherding the independent Vision Haverhill 2035 master plan, which he says identifies the city’s goals.

“The next steps that I am proposing are to establish specific tasks and programs to meet those goals and outcomes,” he said.

The councilor said that one of the keys to the city’s continued success has been, and remains in, manufacturing, which he pointed out has evolved significantly in the digital age. And, he said, the people that can do those jobs are already here. “The largest share of people in Haverhill that have jobs is essentially in management, business, scientific and creative.”

He cited reports showing that more than 25,000 residents leave Haverhill each day to work in the digital manufacturing industry in Boston and Cambridge and he would like to find ways of bringing those industries into Haverhill.

He pointed to the mayor’s plan to change zoning regulations in the city’s industrial parks as a start to achieving just that. However, one barrier to success, he said, is the city is relying mostly on volunteers instead of advancing a formal program. Such a plan requires partnering with Northern Essex Community College and other regional institutions to encourage work opportunities in science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics; working with regional educational institutions to perform outreach to employers who might relocate here; work with UMass Lowell to better integrate its new waterfront campus downtown with expanded classes and programming; and undertaking targeted recruitment efforts to attract companies offering low barrier-to-entry jobs and job training.

Michitson is also recommending creating affordable retail by requiring large developments downtown to provide 1,000-1,200 square feet on ground floors and developing plan for startup funding, storefront improvement, technical assistance and streamlined permitting.

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