To the editor:
Gloucester doesn't have a clue as to how to court new businesses, create solid economic development, nor work the machinery of state or federal government as other cities adeptly have and continue to do.
We have seen more opportunity go south the last few years that Boston, New Bedford and even Woods Hole stand to gain.
When I worked at Sen. Kennedy's office on economic issues, it was quite obvious that the cities with competent legislative aides, and good relations with the office, were able to achieve the best results. Gloucester lacks that expertise, that level of proven relationships, on how to work the Federal or State systems to promote economic, infrastructure and requisite capital investments.
Currently, it is very hard to see that we have staff that knows how to create the draft legislation, nor how it would progress thru to facilitate it nor who could be hired to lobby on our behalf for which aspects. It's also apparent that we lack the ability to envision or work the system to facilitate joint investment beyond the process of "idea development."
Businesses want a city that is ready, willing and able to do business. They need clear signals and reliable decisions to minimize risk for the investment of their capital. Government personnel want to work with those who can in essence "do the work for them."
Gloucester will never get solid economic development without that level of sophistication and expertise — not in this day and age.
It takes as much effort and energy to apply for a $15 million grant for a new building at the Jodrey state fish pier as it does for a $1.2 million non-ADA compliant walkway between restaurants on Rogers Street. Why are we not pursuing far bigger, more worthy projects?
The word "economic" isn't understood in this city — it's all lifestyle development. Your city is dying or rather being killed by neglect and abuse.
There are seaweed corps harvesting kelp off California that readily grows here and was harvested off Good Harbor Beach in the 1800s. It's now used for biofuel and fertilizer, but the biofuel market could be strong and it doesn't take up crop lands like corn or soy for biofuel additives. Yet no one in community development is contacting anyone nor trying to get those corps to satellite locate here.
If this were run as a business (for those aspects that should be), heads would roll and performance standards would be put into contracts to hire people for economic development-related jobs. As a municipal "corporation," we are ignorant and this bumbling will continue if such things are not addressed.
The waterfront charrette held at City Hall a few years ago tried to make the point that we are a port that is a terminus for trade/commercial use — we are not a retail destination nor luxury resort. If the administration can't wake up, it's up to the Council to take the lead and apply pressure or force them to a better course of actions.
What's being done here in the name of urban planning is none. It's planning by developer's proposal, and soon to be planning by overlay proposals. It's utter nonsense for a city or corporation to allow this to happen.
After six years of Fort rezoning, we have no adverse impacts analyzed, no economic impacts detailed, no infrastructure cost determinations, no feasibility study for a waterfront hotel (as New Bedford conducted ahead of its rezoning, no factual analysis.
We need to grow up as a city, act like a $100 million corporation and take control of our asset base. We need to view it more with an eye to the whole and how its parts interact.
There are far too few large parcels left to encourage the solid economic development we need on the waterfront and in the industrial parks.
We can't let it happen one bastardized overlay at a time.
We also can't go forward with such a deficit of legislative backing.
Main Street, Gloucester