T HIS YEAR marks the tenth anniversary of the Gateway Cities movement. The story, as we tell it, begins with a study produced by John Schneider and a team of researchers, myself included, from the Brookings Institution in Washington, DC.

Like most origin stories, this account is incomplete. The germ of the idea actually came from CommonWealth, the journalism arm of MassINC.

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Crisscrossing the state on assignment, CommonWealth reporters often found themselves in urban centers. Whether it be Springfield or Worcester, Fall River or Lowell, Brockton or Pittsfield, they saw how decades of disinvestment and uneven economic growth had taken a heavy toll on places Bay Staters had long known as proud all-American cities. The early issues of CommonWealth cover this struggle —but the tone is often notably upbeat. Rather than laying down and accepting the decline that many experts foretold, these communities were standing up and fighting for a vibrant and prosperous future.

Fast-forward a decade and here we are with Gateways, a new publication devoted to telling the stories of these valiant leaders and the change they are forging through blood, sweat, tears, and boundless optimism.

This legion includes Chris Rezendes, founder of ImpactLABS in New Bedford.Chris grew up in Fall River, left for larger stages, took away what he could, and returned home to make good with his partners at a socially-responsible technology company. With similar ideals, the Nash brothers followed a path back to their hometown of Pittsfield to launch Blue Q, “producers of life-improving, joy-bringing products.”

Our premier issue also features roving entrepreneurs drawn to Gateway Cities simply because they saw opportunity. This camp includes Brooklyn-born chef Jared Forman (no relation), who came to Worcester to open deadhorse hill, and Al Wilson, the founder of Beyond Walls, an organization tapping into Lynn’s architectural and cultural heritage to produce breathtaking works of public art.

The Beyond Walls profile is just one of several examples of the prominent role artists are playing in the transformation of our Gateway Cities. Gloria Hall writes about the evolution of Art in the Park, describing how Worcester residents have rallied around the biennial installation to make each iteration stronger. We also have a piece from the Lowell-born poet Princess Moon, a testament to how cultural expression heals and unites.

Historic structures and a diverse cultural milieu are crucial ingredients, but leadership is ultimately most essential to Gateway City regeneration. This premier issue includes words of wisdom from Niki Tsongas, the retiring Congresswoman from Lowell who has made that iconic mill city’s comeback her life’s work; former Pittsfield

Mayor James Ruberto, a major force in the birth of the Gateway Cities movement; and current Pittsfield Mayor Linda Tyer, who embodies the spirit of collaborative leadership Gateway Cities will need to forge ahead through turbulent times.

Conceived to celebrate an anniversary, this new product demonstrates that we are 10 years young. I hope these pages will imbue you with the collective energy of our Gateway Cities, reigniting the the passion in those who have been with us since the beginning, and inspiring others to come onboard

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Ben Forman
Editor, Gateways
Research Director, MassINC
Executive Director, The Gateway Cities Innovation Institute

A BOUT TEN years ago MassINC began to focus on what we came to brand the Gateway Cities — regional economic hubs that had been traditional gateways to good wages and the American Dream for immigrants and others. The goal was to spark the economic revival of these communities. Our work with elected officials, community leaders and business people has begun to bear fruit and exciting things are happening in these places.

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We at MassINC are in the business of rigorous research and journalism — promotion is not our thing — but something happened on this ten year journey: we have fallen in love with the Gateway Cities. And so we are launching Gateways to bear witness to all that is happening here. Gateways will be a cheerleader for the Gateway Cities as places for people to live and thrive, places to raise children, places to start and operate a business, places to visit and explore, and places to be inspired. We hope you will be inspired by the stories in this pilot issue. Please share it with your neighbors and colleagues. We hope that you will be moved to help insure that our vision of Gateways as quarterly journal will be realized. Please support Gateways by advertising in or purchasing a subscription. For more information about advertising or subscribing, please contact our Managing Editor, Maureen McInerney, at 617.224.1625 or mmcinerney@massinc.org.

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Lauren Louison Grogan
Publisher, Gateways
Chief Operating Officer, MassINC

What’s a gateway city?

Gateway Cities are midsize urban centers that anchor regional economies around the state. For generations, these communities were home to industry that offered residents good jobs and a “gateway” to the American Dream.


Pittsfield Mayor Linda Tyer and her predecessor, James Ruberto, on leading through turbulent times

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The folks at Blue Q in Pittsfield do more than just make people happy

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dance, dance, dance

"AT A YOUNG AGE, we are all taught the act of disappearing” writes Princess Moon. It’s impossible to envision Princess Moon as invisible. Standing on…


Hives of creative activity, makerspaces and co-working spaces are thriving

Historic buildings now home to successful businesses

A review of the restaurant that ushered in an era of good eats in Worcester

WORCESTER, the second-largest city in New England, wasn’t really known for food. It had local mainstays on Shrewsbury Street, but nothing that stood out. When…

A Worcester native follows her passion to success

WHEN AMY CHASE was going to school for interior design in Worcester, she would drive by the old Crompton Loom Works every day on her…


ImpactLABS of New Bedford brings business home

IN 2015, Chris Rezendes and his partners decided to open the digital research and investment firm Impact LABS in New Bed ford because“it was a…

The Lowell Waterways Vitality Initiative makes advances

THE LOWELL Waterways Vitality Initiative is a collaborative effort to enhance Lowell’s remarkable waterways with lighting, accessibility improvements, and new retailers. The idea was conceived…

Restaurant incubators provide new opportunities for entrepreneurs in Lawrence and Worcester

JUST BEFORE noon, customers start flowing into CocoRay’s in downtown Lawrence. Located in a satellite campus of Northern Essex Community College, the restaurant is frequented…

Catch the holiday spirit across the Commonwealth

Holiday Festival of Crafts November 24-26 Worcester Center for Crafts 25 Sagamore Rd., Worcester worcester.edu/Holiday-Festival The Worcester Center for Crafts is transformed into a European-style…


With Reinvention Comes Opportunity

by Niki Tsongas

Gateway Cities need a coherent federal urban policy

TWO CENTURIES ago, a revolution took place directly outside my office in Lowell. Titans of industry joined forward-thinkers, women ahead of their time, and immigrants from around the world to form an innovation hub that propelled the region and the country into a new age. Lowell’s legacy of reinvention remains a hallmark of the city to this day and is echoed in the transformative stories of Gateway Cities across the Commonwealth.

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