hgazette.com, Haverhill, MA

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January 30, 2014

Councilor right to call for focus on economy

They say timing is everything.

There’s little doubting it in this case.

Haverhill’s downtown comeback in recent years has been impressive, opening the door to the possibility of an even brighter future.

But for that to happen, people across the community must put their heads together. City officials, neighborhood leaders, merchants and others must join their creative forces to keep the city’s momentum moving in the right direction.

So says City Councilor John Michitson, a longtime advocate of taking time to plan thoroughly for the future.

Michitson wants Haverhill to have an economic development conference soon. (See story, Page 1.)

They are official-sounding words, but they boil down to goals that are basic to the community’s success: How to lure businesses and other investment that will bring jobs and prosperity to the city.

The timing is indeed right for such an effort.

Haverhill has changed the face of its downtown. Once vacant factories are now home to hundreds of apartments and condos. The investment has brought more tax money to the city and supplied a new population of residents to spend their dollars downtown.

The city’s restaurant row and its lounges and other businesses have benefited from that spending. Jobs have been created, and a significant portion of the city that once featured buildings with broken and boarded-up windows has improved by leaps and bounds.

Against that backdrop of improvements in the western end of downtown, Mayor James Fiorentini and city planners are eyeing big changes for the eastern end. They are working on zoning to draw similar development along the Merrimack River in that eastern area and on other key riverfront properties.

At the same time, the Team Haverhill civic organization, with volunteers from across the community, has completed its annual brainstorming session of ideas to make the city better.

Michitson is right to call for an economic development conference at a time when Haverhill is riding a wave of momentum and also gathering new ideas for the future.

We encourage the mayor and other city leaders to make the conference happen. It’s the best way to get everyone working in the same direction.

It will give Haverhill a chance to become an even better place to work, live and raise a family.

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