Michitson inuguration speech for haverhill city council president 010614
Good morning and Happy New Year!
Members of the state delegation; Honorable Mayor Fiorentini, colleagues of the City Council
and School Committee; and Superintendent Scully;
Honored Guests, Friends, Family, city employees and fellow residents of Haverhill.
It is an honor to stand here today as the President of the Haverhill City Council. Thank you for
I am grateful for the opportunity that you have given me and I intend to have a major impact this
term on your behalf.
HAVERHILL DOESN’T HAVE A CHOICE. ECONOMIC FORCES ARE DEMANDING THAT WE
REVAMP OUR CURRENT ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT CAPABILITY. I INTEND TO MAKE
Sustainable economic development is critical to the success of Haverhill. A successful business
environment provides jobs and much needed revenue for the City, reducing the tax burden on
homeowners, and local workers in turn support other city businesses like shops, services and
The number one uncertainty in our future is the local economy.
Success in sustainable economic development is a process, not an event.
While we have had our share of successes, all processes evolve.
The global economy is changing dramatically. Large companies are developing partnerships for
distribution, warehousing and assembly to bring back manufacturing to the United States. At the
same time, there has been a substantial increase in very small enterprises, including one or two
person companies that sell services, creativity and expertise. Some analysts project that these
independent entrepreneurs could become a majority of the American workforce by 2020.
I’ve worked with Mayor Fiorentini, Bill Pillsbury, the City’s Economic Development Director,
business and education leaders on several “proof-of-concept” projects to test the waters in
Haverhill for a rapidly changing economy. We held a successful startup competition in Haverhill
led by Lightspeed Manufacturing in Ward Hill, while Kifor Development led an associated effort
to successfully attract a critical mass of startups and small businesses to the Burgess Business
Center and incubator in downtown Haverhill.
Due to the complexities of the future economy and its interrelationships with other key elements
of our city, such as public infrastructure, public safety, schools and residential housing, the next
logical step is to collectively develop a comprehensive, long range policy plan for Haverhill,
starting with our Vision for future Haverhill. The comprehensive plan must integrate how we
intend to help make Haverhill a better place to live, learn, work and play in the next 10-20 years.
Pieces of that vision have already emerged in various settings, but the whole picture needs to
be pulled together into a statement that gives more guidance to all of our institutions and
stakeholders. It will set the table for specific projects and programs to implement its goals.
I propose that sustainable economic development should get early attention in this planning
process. Here are some elements we might include:
The Mayor and Council have made some good zoning innovations in recent years, and are
continuing to do so, but now we need to go further, especially for attracting industry to our
business parks. We need to develop a strategy by analyzing trends in a wide range of existing
and emerging economic sectors and their potential for relocation to Haverhill. What is the next
big thing? What industries and companies complement our current assets? How do we attract a
steady stream of entrepreneurs and the new ideas and jobs that they generate?
For example, we have a cluster of Food Manufacturing companies and a successful restaurant
district. Can we attract creative and innovative entrepreneurs with a food incubator to include
commercial kitchens and design tools to create new food products and manufacturing
Another example is that the two fastest growing technology-based industries in Massachusetts
are robotics and big data analytics – can we become the manufacturing arm for these industries
and others that have research and development centers in Boston/Cambridge?
How do we account for the flexible space needs of smaller companies that will come and go in
an ever-changing global economy?
These questions must be studied and analyzed in a systematic way with broad stakeholders
from business, government, education and our community.
Then we can address the land use, public infrastructure, transportation, energy, financial,
workforce training and mentoring needs for our targeted industries and companies.
We’ve also done some good streamlining of the permit process for business development, and
we are looking at further simplifying the design review process, but we can go further in creating
a business-friendly environment.
Many cities are building a broadband network as business is increasingly conducted on the
web, especially with the global proliferation of smart phones. We should look at this as a way to
interconnect our business parks and future downtown developments to create a cohesive
We need to work with our state and federal delegations to offer financial incentives for business
development in Gateway cities. So far, the tax credits for residential development in the
downtown have been effective, but there are few such incentives for business development.
I envision Haverhill becoming a workforce training and business mentoring center in the region.
Imagine the competitive advantage that Haverhill would have if we become a one-stop shop for
training at all levels by leveraging Haverhill High, Whittier Vo-tech, NECC, UMASS/Lowell and
other universities and colleges in the region and Boston/Cambridge?
Finally, with our flexible comprehensive plan in hand, we will have the basis for a marketing
campaign to realize our vision by attracting investment in our city.
I strongly recommend that we hold a conference no later than one month from now—the first
week in February to organize the development of a comprehensive plan for Haverhill modeled
after SomerVision, the City of Somerville’s Comprehensive Plan, which we can adapt for
Haverhill. All pertinent stakeholders, including local and regional government officials, and
leaders from business and education, as well as Haverhill residents, will be invited to attend the
It is recommended that an independent steering committee, with City participation, be
assembled to lead the effort.
One key enabler is to obtain funding from the private sector for an economic development
consultant to develop the plan based on direction from the steering committee.
I hope this brief overview of what could be in Haverhill’s future is as exciting to you as it is to
me; that it imparts energy and excitement and makes clear my commitment to work towards
achieving these goals.
Now is the moment. Let’s get on with it…together.
Thank you all very much