Benjamin Forman

2003 Public Policy Summer Fellow

May 1, 2003

Graduate Degree:MIT, Department of Urban Studies and Planning
Undergraduate Degree:Trinity College
Areas of Interest:Economic development
Mentor:Vivian Li, Executive director for the Boston Harbor Association
Agency:Mayor's Office, City of New Bedford
Supervisor:Michael McCormack, Chief of Staff, City of New Bedford
Project Description:While at the Mayor's office, Ben worked on a plan to revitalize the downtown area of New Bedford. Ben focused on the Greater Boston Satellite Cities (GBSC) and researched what they had to offer in revitalizing downtown areas and increase housing options.

The satellite cities can also gain by cooperating rather than competing for economic development. Compared to large cities like Boston, the GBSCs have few resources to devote towards attracting new employers. Since they offer very similar environments to prospective businesses, they are frequently competing with one another by giving away tax incentives. The winning city often gains very little. If GBSCs work together they could market themselves as a group to industry groups. Sharing their resources would allow them to design more sophisticated sales strategies and promote a more unified image of the advantages of the region’s medium-sized cities.

GBSCs can also turn the fact that they have been abandoned by industry into an advantage. The GBSCs are relatively clean and quiet urban environments. They can market this advantage by creating "Green" campaigns. The cities could work together to tailor environmental plans that would generate energy and cost savings for the cities and their residents. These plans could be created by officials from each city working with students studying environmental planning at local universities. Greater Boston is an increasingly expensive area to live and do business. The danger is that the region will suffer as firms seek less expensive business environments.

Fortunately there is an alternative vision. The recent recovery of inner-city neighborhoods in places like Boston, Cambridge and Somerville demonstrates that there is demand for dense urban living – demand that far exceeds the available supply. Medium-sized older historic cities offer vital attractive living environments to families and new dense nodes of activity to growing businesses. In order to achieve this vision, local leaders from GBSCs must cooperate and convince powerbrokers beyond their borders that their cities can become ideal destinations.