Economic Development: One of the hottest topics in MA communities, what do you see as some items Mansfield can do to attract business?
I would work with the Economic Development Director, Chris McDermott, to help identify service gaps affecting our area. We don’t necessarily want to try and attract competition for existing business operating in town, and where possible, should seek a diverse base of businesses to help mitigate downturns in specific industries. We should look for unique businesses that can’t be found in adjacent towns, as well.
Grants or incentives for small, town-owned businesses could also be an avenue to explore, along with possible relocation incentives for existing businesses in town that may be better-suited to other parts of town.
The proposals from the Planning Board for the MBTA and TOD districts should help create new commercial spaces near the Commuter Rail station, and it’s important that we convince the future property owners to build for the kinds of businesses we need in this area. How many of the available retail spaces in the downtown area have the necessary accommodations for food service? Building in necessary infrastructure like grease traps and adequate ventilation, and amenities like patio space, will help prospective restaurant tenants get going quickly without having to retrofit these things into existing spaces.
I’m not an expert on this topic, though, and I would partner with the Economic Development Director, Planning Director, and others to support them in their ongoing endeavors in this space. It would be important to learn what has already been tried, what’s been considered but not actioned and why, and work together to come up with new ideas, while working to remove any roadblocks getting in the way of current initiatives.