Town of Adams Economic Development Strategy
Board of Selectmen - October 2013
To become a player in the Berkshire County tourism economy by exploiting our current amenities and continuing to develop additional anchor attractions. Furthermore, to establish an environment wherein new industries are attracted to Adams due to quality of life, modern infrastructure and competitive incentive opportunities. Furthermore, to create vibrancy in our downtown through the continued growth of retail and small business along Park Street, Summer Street, Hoosac Street, Commercial Street and Columbia Street.
Adams can become a vibrant community in the coming years, but will require vision and the commitment of town resources. The Board of Selectmen will provide this vision and the support needed to clearly guide town staff, resources, stakeholders and future leaders into a unified, successful direction.
The below items have been identified by the Board of Selectmen as requiring more detailed attention as they either represent an opportunity to improve outcomes or address potential long-term hurdles that need to be considered.
• Coordinate marketing efforts to identify Adams as "the Recreational Hub of the Berkshires."
• Establish a Tourism Office to address growing needs for coordination between different cultural and recreational attractions as well as an in-house point person for special events and programming.
• Expand investment in the overall marketing and promotion of the amenities and major special events in the community. (Thunderbolt Ski Race, Ramble, Bike Night, Aggie Fair, Susan B. Anthony Days, etc...)
• Expand future staffing levels in the Community Development/Economic Development department in order to meet growing demand for project management, grant writing, planning and zoning, and business development.
• Investigate expanded incentive opportunities for recruiting new businesses and assisting current businesses.
• Evaluate Town zoning to include solar, wind, medical marijuana, residential and industrial updates, overlay districts, and re-evaluation of the downtown districts. Special attention should be paid to the preservation of our remaining industrial assets and corridors.
• Evaluate ways to maintain and strengthen the Agricultural Community.
• Help support efforts for the creation of a Chamber of Commerce like entity that may assist with the coordination of local businesses and marketing of community assets.
• Identify ways to address properties with "negative value" that have distressed the community.
• Continue investigation of green initiatives that can improve cost-effectiveness for Town services, the business community and local residents.
• Support the schools (ACRSD, McCann, BART) in making linkages to local businesses, providing programs that create internships, and establishing opportunities that can be used as a recruitment tool for new students and families.
• Encourage learning service projects within the community to enhance educational opportunities.
• Expand pedestrian-friendly infrastructure components such as bike lanes and walking loops.
The following projects feature the Town as either the developer or major stakeholders and are priorities of the Board of Selectmen. These items are seen as having a direct impact on the economic stability and viability of the community, and will play a major role in fulfilling the mission statement of this Economic Development Strategy.
• Park Street Improvement Project
• Greylock Glen Development Project
• Berkshire Scenic Rail Project
• Adams Station Project
• Route 8 Roundabout Project
• Ashuwillticook Extension Projects – Lime Street and Hodges Cross Road.
• Support for mixed-use projects that create more market rate housing (Jones Block, Mausert Block and 7 Hoosac Street.)
• Topia Arts Center / Adams Theatre Project
• Re-purposing of Memorial Building
• Reuse/demolition plans for abandoned downtown properties
• Farmers Market Expansion
• Expanded wayfinding and downtown signage program.
• Housing Rehabilitation Program
• Establish Southern Gateway Target Area (slums & blight designation)
• Determine a cost-effective, enforceable, useful solution to downtown parking meters and parking signage.
VISION AND DIRECTION
The Town of Adams is a post-industrial community that remains as the third largest municipality in Berkshire County. Throughout the past decade, the Town has undergone a facelift wherein dozens of downtown properties have been restored and a variety of infrastructure and public improvements have been made. Additionally, a number of other major downtown properties (5 Hoosac Street, Jones Block, Mausert Block, Armory Building, former Saints Hall, Albert's Hardware) have either recently been restored or are in the process of a restoration beginning. The Town's Corporate Park has recently seen additional growth, with more planned for the future. Along with these improvements, the Town has begun to earn a new identity as a business-friendly community that can be attractive to visitors and draw from the established Berkshire County tourism economy.
What this is all pointing to is that the Town of Adams is gaining momentum. There are several new eateries in the community with the potential for more in the coming year. A major downtown attraction is primed to come to Adams in 2014 in the Berkshire Scenic Railway. A community that once had little to no success in attracting developers is now working with multiple investors on numerous projects at any given time. However, if the Town is going to get over the hurdle and take a leap into the next era there must be a strategic commitment to getting things done. The plan outlined above provides multiple initiatives that will better position the Town for continued progress, along with numerous projects that will potentially prime the community to become a destination in the region. Ultimately, this plan can be construed as a blueprint for development.
The Board of Selectmen is committed to this plan as a framework for policy making and financial planning in the coming years. This plan should assist in providing Town departments and staff with a clear guideline of where energy and resources should be focused. Additionally, this plan should help provide direction in the budget writing process, as well as a clear vision for Town Meeting to follow when reviewing annual budget proposals.
The time is now in Adams, and as Chief Executive Officers, the Board of Selectmen must provide vision and framework with which to capitalize off of current opportunities to lead this community into the future. This document will be a major step in that direction as it cements a philosophy and a mission into a clear plan that can provide the direction and leadership needed for Adams to grow. This Economic Development Strategy is designed to be a living document and should be revisited periodically to ensure that overall goals and priorities are progressing and are consistent with current circumstances.