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6 Ways to Make Framingham Business-Friendly

Community and Economic Development Director told Selectmen, "The town must have a mindset that new development is a desirable and worthy goal."

Framingham Director of Community and Economic Development Alison Steinfeld didn’t mince words when she reported to the Selectmen the only way the town is going to realize an increase in revenue is to foster development.

“The town must have a mindset that new development is a desirable and worthy goal,” said Steinfeld as she opened her presentation before the Board of Selectmen Tuesday night. “There is a choice. Accept new growth or forgo additional revenue.”

Development does three things, Steinfeld said in her presentation:

1. Provides new revenue for services and programs and/or reduces the tax burden on existing taxpayers;

2. Creates jobs

3. Provides goods and services to support existing land uses.

She named five areas of Framingham that have development potential and informed the Selectmen that the state has designated two of those areas as priority development sites.

The Downtown/South Framingham and Technology Park/9-90 areas received the designation, which gives the town added leverage when securing state development funds for projects in those areas.

In order to be perceived as a business-friendly environment, Steinfeld recommended that Framingham:

  • Is proactive rather than reactive … supportive rather than adversarial.
  • Promotes cooperation with developers, existing businesses and commercial property owners.
  • Develops and builds upon public-private partnerships.
  • Facilitates appropriate development proposals.
  • Conveys a willingness to entertain requests for tax incentives.
  • Acknowledges needs of business community.

Steinfeld gave an example of how 47 New York Ave., a building, contributed $740,818 in taxes for fiscal year 2012. Redevelopment of the property means Framingham’s tax base was permanently expanded by $19.5 million.

In a departmental presentation, the Framingham Building Department reported collecting building permit fees for more than $1.3 million in fiscal year 2011.

The department issued 2,308 permits that year, with a spike coming in additions and alterations of existing homes and buildings.

The town’s sign by-law comes under the department’s jurisdiction and the report stated that all non-conforming signs must be brought into compliance by Dec. 1. The department plans to have informational meetings and roundtable discussions on signs as the deadline approaches.

The department said it answers an average of 50 to 60 basic zoning questions and prepares five to 10 zoning opinions each week.

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Yaakov Cohn March 28, 2012 at 12:56 PM
As a town meeting member, I long ago concluded that the critical first step towards new development in Framingham is to get a new Director of Community and Economic Development. It's long since time for the Board of Selectmen to stop pretending that they have not noticed that Ms. Steinfeld announces yearly that she is making plans to make plans.
TMM March 28, 2012 at 01:53 PM
I believe it is vital that the Town and the appropriate department heads make every effort possible to attract businesses to Framingham. Recent discussions remind me of my efforts to attract two corporations and to bring this to the attention of the Community and Economic Development 2009. The two companies were Micro Center (computer chain) and Zimman’s (regional fabric, furniture company). In April 2009, I provided “someone” in Comm Dev written information concerning these two retail companies. The information included company backgrounds, source of my information, reasons why they should be approached, exact name and position of each of the company executives. I included addresses, direct telephone numbers and email information. It was neatly typed on “a silver paper platter.” The person whom I gave the information “failed” to follow up. A lost opportunity. At the Spring 2010 Town Meeting on May 5, I spoke on this topic to which the person from Community and Economic Development responded including the statement, “It is not my job to contact these businesses.” Town Meeting Members might remember that evening. On May 5, 2010, I sent an email to the former Town Manager and to the Board of Selectmen that resulted in no response and no action. MicroCenter and Zimmans were strong leads that could have truly benefited Framingham and improved the tax base. It required only two phone calls. Unfortunately no official seemed to care.
Jim Rizoli March 28, 2012 at 02:16 PM
On the flip side the town has been very accommodating business that are either owned by illegal aliens or extensively hire them.. Good job town officials! We're turning into little South America. If you think that type of thinking is going to bring the right clientele to the town than you're dreaming. Sad to watch a town self destruct but that's exactly what's happening here. The good news is I can bail out anytime, but most people can't as they have to much to lose. Jim@ccfiile.com

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