As the WBDC moves into our 52nd year of economic development in the Worcester area, we celebrate our successes and advance a bold new agenda for future development in the region.
This past year, we continued to develop our project at 20 Franklin Street, expanding our innovation space in partnership with the new Idea Lab and new start-up companies occupying our 4th floor incubator. We have raised a substantial amount of capital to commence construction in 2017 on new cultural space and a “Black Box” theater. Our partnership with Quinsigamond Community College continues to thrive as more programs and students now occupy their downtown campus. We continue to look outward as the Theatre District is now taking shape, new infrastructure has been completed by the City, and the Theatre District Alliance is now on the path to becoming a successful “Business Improvement District” (BID). Our commitment to downtown remains strong. We look forward to working in partnership with the City on successfully implementing a new Urban Revitalization Plan to improve the walk from CitySquare to Main Street. Our brownfields redevelopment efforts continue to be successful. In 2016, we completed the demolition and cleanup of the former GKN Sinter Metals site in the Canal District and, in partnership with the development team at the Worcester Sports Center, have begun construction of a new 100,000 SF twin ice rink and retail center. We will continue to work in partnership with the City to expand our brownfields efforts to other industrial sites in the City and region. 2016 brought a record year for the WBDC’s SBA 504 Loan Program portfolio, adding 14 new loans totaling $10 million.
We are pleased to be honoring Mark Stebbins and Leo Xarras from XSS Hotels with our 2017 Bowditch Economic Development Award. XSS Hotels has successfully developed three hotels in Worcester with an exciting fourth full service hotel in downtown Worcester at CitySquare. The new AC Marriott will provide full service amenities to guests and provide much needed room capacity to our ever increasing conventions and meetings held at the DCU Center. Mark and Leo truly represent what our founder Bob Bowditch described as “exceeding expectations for success and economic development”.
Looking forward, we are excited to announce we will be breaking ground on a new project; the creation of a Biomanufacturing Park as an expansion to the existing Massachusetts Biotechnology Research Park in Worcester. In addition, we will continue our efforts on completing a new housing project at 332 Main Street, working with our clients on repositioning the Mercantile Center project at CitySquare, the Southbridge Inn & Conference Center, and our involvement in the Economic Development Coordinating Council (EDCC).
John F. Merrill Craig L. Blais
Board Chair President & CEO