Attleboro Tagged as Gateway City, Could Bring in Helpful Dollars

No new law was needed. It came naturally.

Attleboro can now receive the benefits of increased funding for education and development from the state through its Gateway Cities program. The state's Executive Department Office of Housing and Economic Development announced Monday the city qualifies for the program because the median household income in Attleboro fell below the Massachusetts average of $65,981.

State Rep. Betty Poirier and former state Rep. George Ross attempted to qualify Attleboro for the program last year by modifying the standards for inclusion. Their proposal was approved by both houses of the state legislature, but rejected by Gov. Deval Patrick.

Attleboro and Plainville, which the state also announced Monday had become a Gateway City, join 24 other communities in the program. In addition to the economic standard, Gateway Cities must have a population of 35,000 to 250,000 and have a rate of residents with bachelor's degrees below the state average.

State Rep. Paul Heroux, whose district includes most of Attleboro, told Patch the city acquiring the Gateway City designation sends mixed signals.

"On the one hand, Attleboro now qualifies for tax breaks for some businesses, the opportunity to apply for education and economic development grants," wrote Heroux in an email. "These will be good for Attleboro." 

He continued, "On the other hand, Attleboro is below the state's percent on education and below the state's median on income. That we are below these measures, and that we have dipped in terms of income in particular, is not a good thing. However, Attleboro has had many recent successes in education; BCC is a positive addition that will help advance education rates in Attleboro."

A press release from the state says cities in the program will have "access to specific programs targeting those cities" and have preference in "broader, state-wide programs." Among the programs noted are one providing cities with "a development tool to increase market-rate housing stock and support economic development" and another that develops and restores parks in urban neighborhoods.

"Our Gateway Cities possess tremendous potential and opportunities and the Patrick-Murray Administration's emphasis on these communities is designed to help unlock that potential," said Greg Bialecki, the secretary of housing and economic development, according to the press release. "By continuing to invest in innovation, infrastructure and education in these communities we are creating new opportunities for growth in the future."

Jerry Chase February 26, 2013 at 02:35 AM
It's still a mystery as to why the NEW guardrail on the SouthWestern edge of the new North Main Street bridge near KnobbyKrafters is disgracefully RUSTY. Does it not seem reasonable for the City to sufficiently care to use a can of silver-colored paint on it, to at least make it look half-way decent? Or will the Gateway status provide the funds for a quart of said paint, a couple of brushes, and 1.5 hour's labor?
Eddie Porreca February 26, 2013 at 03:00 AM
Couple of notes on this, according to School Digger Attleboro is ranked 167 out of 327. Additionally, according to the Massachusetts Dept of Education when compared to the ten similar districts in size and demographics, Attleboro is #1. More importantly Attleboro has been moving forward with all of its schools with a 1 or 2 rating (high school has a 1 rating). Can the Attleboro school do better? Sure can, however, in the middle of the pack and moving forward is pretty good. Ranked top for similar size districts, pretty good too. Major changes were made at the high school level this year with the trimester system that will prove itself out in next years ranking. As far as a Chris's comments, folks will see Attleboro as we see it. It's all about perception, If we see ourselves a struggling fledgling City than others will too. If we see our selves as a City on the rise then others will as well. The question is what perception do we want to become reality.
Leeanne Kerwin February 26, 2013 at 11:25 AM
Ditto to what Eddie Porreca said. I have lived in this city my whole life and have seen it at it's best and worst and everything in between. I chose to live here because of its affordability. I chose to raise my children here for various reasons including the fact that I was sure they would get a decent education - and they have.
Jonathan Friedman February 26, 2013 at 01:11 PM
I have added comments from state Rep. Paul Heroux to the story.
Christopher Hoagland February 27, 2013 at 04:22 PM
Has anyone looked into how well the other Gateway Cities are doing since obtaining this status? Have the additional funds been used to increase job, increase median income, increase of highly educated people? Or are they still where they were when they first obtained this status?


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