Sun Spots with Hitch [Vol. 206]: Pot restrictions high on City Council wish list

Twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia now have laws on the books legalizing marijuana to some extent.

And with California’s massive medical marijuana infrastructure expected to buoy a potential $7 billion recreational marketplace, experts see no end in sight to the pot shop proliferation.

In Worcester, up to 15 licenses could be awarded once state regulators open the floodgates next July. And city councilors want their say on where these retail outlets will put down roots.Hitch is hungry for answers.

Hitch is hungry for answers.

State opens pipeline to more development money for cities like Worcester

The state is taking nominations from gateway cities interested in customized assistance, including real estate services, aimed at encouraging economic development activity with landowners and investors.

MassDevelopment on Tuesday announced the second round of its Transformative Development Initiative (TDI), with the goal of selecting four to six additional TDI districts. Ten TDI districts — in Worcester, Brockton, Haverhill, Holyoke, Lynn, New Bedford, Peabody, Pittsfield, Revere and Springfield — were selected in the first round.

Vanita Gupta: Bipartisan congressional action required to prevent Census 2020 disaster

“The Census Bureau needs a steady and significant ramp-up in funding to test new technologies and procedures and to create an effective outreach and advertising campaign. However, the Trump administration’s budget request for next year is woefully inadequate. Necessary testing has already been cut back due to lack of sufficient funds.” The former Obama Administration official details what’s at stake.

Editorial: Tax breaks for homeowners

Where are the tax breaks for the little guy?

It’s not uncommon these days to read about governments providing tax breaks to companies in exchange for the promise of jobs, development or both.

General Electric received a package worth $151 million to relocate to Boston. Included in the package was $25 million in property tax breaks. And Boston and the state are working on a package in an attempt to lure Amazon to locate its second headquarters here.

Closer to home, the city of Worcester has used Tax Increment Financing (TIFs), District Increment Financing (DIF), Tax Increment Exemption (TIE) and Investment Tax Credit deals to spur development. The latest is a TIE deal that will save the developers of Harding Green $838,000 over 10 years for a mixed-use development in the Canal District.

Worcester’s track record with TIF agreements is generally positive. According to a city report in May, the 24 active TIF agreements between 2012 and 2017 have:

Mariano: Petty vs. Gaffney, Round 2

In many municipal elections, candidates have to work hard to show the distinctions between them. Often the differences are a matter of degree – candidates agree more or less on what needs to be done. Not in this one.

Mayor Petty answers Ray Mariano’s questions

Twenty-two questions, 22 unedited answers. Find out what the current mayor told the former mayor about the safety of Worcester, the dual tax rate, #WooSox, and the greatest weaknesses of Augustus and Binienda.

A Mother’s Journey: The gentrification exasperation

Editor’s note: Since September 2015, Worcester Sun has chronicled the trials and triumphs of Sun contributor Giselle Rivera-Flores as she explores ways to help her daughter and other Worcester families find affordable educational support and assistance. We used to describe her as an aspiring business owner; now, she’s an inspiring one. During her journey to establish and grow her nonprofit tutoring collaborative she has, you could say, stepped beyond the walls of her dream.

Giselle Rivera-Flores

It seems obvious to me that when a city clusters industry-specific small businesses into an area of close proximity, the community experiences growth at a faster rate. It is the underlying strategy for increasing productivity, innovation and success.

Small businesses benefit from their neighbors in a relationship that promotes the exchange and sharing of marketing, skilled workforce and technologies. As cities grow, there should be an integrated strategy for the development of small businesses and not just an emphasis on larger developments, brands and infrastructure buildout.

In December 2012, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released a report, “Smart Growth and Economic Success: Benefits for Real Estate Developers, Investors, Businesses, and Local Governments,” outlining the importance of smart growth development. The concept integrates “compact and walkable” with providing “a diverse range of choices in land uses, building types, transportation, homes, workplace locations and stores.”

The report states that “by locating businesses closer together, compact development can create a density of employment that increases economic productivity and attracts additional investment.” And of course, it makes logical sense to do so.

When I drive through high-density small-business areas, like those in Main South, I do not see the implementation of logical strategies such as that of compact development from city investment, but instead, I see it through the relationships among the existing businesses.

Read Giselle’s previous chapter, The gauntlet of transitions, or scroll down to explore more of her story.

Editorial: Caring community hits back at Hurricane Harvey

It almost seems unreal that the lingering nightmare to our south is as bad as it is, while we have enjoyed calm summer weather since Hurricane Harvey hit Texas nine days ago.

But it is real. And catastrophic, affecting millions in the path of the slow-moving monster. Relentless rain, historic flooding and fierce winds and have caused dozens of deaths, widespread heartbreak and alarm, and billions of dollars worth of damage to Houston along with a swath of cities and towns in East Texas and beyond.

Once a category 4 hurricane, the storm has poured plenty of misery on Louisiana, Tennessee and Kentucky and northward, and will dump water on us today. On its heels, young Irma seems to be amassing similar power and could impact the United States.

Here in Worcester in a few days, we won’t only be watching all this but doing something about it.

Sun Spots with Hitch [Vol. 192]: Worcester’s ‘statue of limitations’

Much has been made of the battle over our nation’s many monuments that salute people or ideas whose time has passed, or which many feel should never have been celebrated in the first place.

Advocates for protecting tributes to Confederate leaders fear, ostensibly anyway, that we’re erasing our history. If only inflamed rhetoric was the worst of it.

For his part, Hitch believes it’s high time Worcester dismantles one of its most monumental mistakes.