Working Cities ‘works’ in Chelsea, Holyoke, Fitchburg, and Lawrence
After four years participating in the initiative, cities see progress and momentum
In 2013, the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston took findings from research that studied why some small and mid-sized former industrial cities were economically faring better than others—and lifted off the page into action with the pilot round of the Working Cities Challenge in Massachusetts.
The Fed found when leaders across sectors (public, private, and nonprofits) worked together, problems could be identified and addressed for long-term, systemic change—and ultimately economic vitality.
Fast forward four years and Chelsea, Holyoke, Fitchburg, and Lawrence—the cities that participated in the inaugural round of the Working Cities Challenge—are making significant progress toward improving the lives of residents in their communities.
The Boston Fed partnered with the independent evaluation firm Mt. Auburn Associates to conduct a comprehensive evaluation of the Massachusetts program and the cities’ efforts.
The Chelsea Thrives team created an evidence-based, cross-sector crime prevention effort to identify and serve families with acute risk of crime, resulting in a successful pilot with over 205 families receiving intervention. The effort saw crime figures decrease in the target neighborhood and at the city-level.
Fitchburg’s ReImagine North of Main initiative engaged anchor institutions, the municipality, and many organizational partners to focus the city’s redevelopment effort on a struggling neighborhood and the abutting downtown, while ensuring that residents are a major focus of revitalization efforts. With major involvement from Fitchburg State University, the Fitchburg team has created a $100 million pipeline of new investment opportunities, changed city property practices, engaged residents, and more.
The SPARK Initiative in Holyoke developed a data-driven ecosystem for jump-starting and accelerating a pipeline of Latino-owned businesses in the city, with its initial effort supporting 70 entrepreneurs who established 33 new ventures and 82 new jobs, filled primarily by Latino and women residents.