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MAY 2014

WELCOME TO PAWTUCKET! Turning Potential and Partnerships Into Progress

By Mayor Donald R. Grebien PAWTUCKET – When a young Samuel Slater and his partners launched the first fully mechanized cotton spinning mill in America here in 1793, they were doing more than tapping the hydropower potential of the fast-running Blackstone River. They were also initiating an era of economic progress that quickly reverberated throughout the Blackstone Valley and well beyond. For his innovation, based on designs he learned as an apprentice in an English cotton mill, Slater was dubbed by Andrew Jackson as “The Father of the American Industrial Revolution.” The city’s mill and industrial economy would carry it successfully into the 20th century. Even today, Pawtucket, the state’s fourth largest city, ranks second in Rhode Island for manufacturing employment. Now, we are again seeing the redevelopment of our riverfront, from neighboring Central Falls down to the Seekonk River on its way to Narragansett Bay, as a key to a better economic future. A recent study commissioned by the city with the private, nonprofit Pawtucket Foundation showed the riverfront corridor with significant untapped potential for commercial, industrial and residential growth. We have already seen the “back to the future” theme in

our city’s many proud mill spaces, to which artists, artisans, designers, craft brewers, technology innovators and other professionals have been flocking to for 15 years or more. That trend, which 10 years ago was headlined in The New York Times, continues unabated today. Perhaps the best thing about the “creative economy” is that it tends to build on itself. Artists and entrepreneurs attract those of like mind, talent and ambition. But one thing I quickly learned after becoming mayor is that great potential, on its own, is never enough. No one can hope to succeed by going it alone. Progress takes partners, and the City of Pawtucket has been fortunate to have several outstanding ones. To secure a second Enterprise Zone in the city, which allows tax credits for new hires, we partnered with Governor Chafee’s office as well as the former Economic Development Corporation, now known as Commerce RI. This smoothed the way for a medical call facility, Tunstall Americas, to relocate to Pawtucket, where they have already created more than 300 new jobs. Federal funding help, led by Senator Jack Reed, provided a study that will determine the viability of bringing commuter rail back to Pawtucket, which is seen as an economic game changer for the city by everyone who has looked at it. A chief development beneficiary would be the massive former Coats & Clark and Conant Thread Mill Complex nearby. We also worked with the Providence office of the U.S. Small Business Administration to bring a series of free workshops throughout this year on skills and funding resources vital for business success. Other partners there include the Northern Rhode Island Chamber of Commerce, the Pawtucket Foundation, TD Bank, SCORE and the Center for Women & Enterprise. If you’re starting to pick up on my underlying theme that government can be, and with the right partnerships should be, part of the solution, then let me expand it by some examples. With the help of our City Council, we recently concluded a “tax treaty” with the developer of a $4.6 million women’s medical care facility along the Division Street riverfront that will assure a predictable tax obligation on one side and stable tax revenues on the other. More recently, we began exploring a similar arrangement for the owners of a more than $20 million project in the former American Insulated Wire mill complex, which will bring in commercial, retail and residential development.

c r e d i t s


Herb Weiss, LRI’12 | Economic & Cultural Affairs Officer, Planning & Redevelopment, City of Pawtucket

Copy Editors

Doug Hadden | Director of Communications, Mayor’s Office, City of Pawtucket Kerri Vecoli | Trust Secretary, Planning & Redevelopment, City of Pawtucket Mary Bourdeau | Admin. Asst. , Planning & Redevelopment, City of Pawtucket Joe Sandmann | Program Coordinator, Pawtucket Foundation

Contributing Writers

Mayor Donald R. Grebien | City of Pawtucket Doug Hadden | Director of Communications, Mayor’s Office, City of Pawtucket Barney Heath | Director, Planning & Redevelopment, City of Pawtucket Susan Mara | Assistant Director, Planning & Redevelopment, City of Pawtucket Dylan Zelazo | Mayor’s Office, City of Pawtucket Aaron Hertzberg | Executive Director, Pawtucket Foundation

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Joe Sandmann | Program Coordinator, Pawtucket Foundation Rachel Brask Hutchinson | Communications & Design Associate, Pawtucket Foundation Northeast Collaborative Architects| Photo - Ben Jacobsen

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Christopher J. Medeiros | Graphic Designer, Providence Business News

Mayor’s Office Mayor Donald R. Grebien 137 Roosevelt Avenue, Pawtucket, RI 02860 Main phone 401-728-0500, Ext. 281 Find us on

Also, a long vacant city-owned building that once housed an Old Colony Bank branch is being redeveloped by our partnership with the private, nonprofit Pawtucket Citizens Development Corporation, which has rehabbed numerous formerly blighted buildings. There are also three potential developers for a prime 10-acre city parcel overlooking the Seekonk River who are readying proposals for its reuse. Underlying that theme is this perhaps most important one: jobs, jobs, jobs. Local government can help in other ways as well. We have introduced a “one-stop shopping” process for permits and other regulations which developers and businesses need to go through to set up shop. Besides advocating for the new Enterprise Zone, we were successful in our support for restoration of the State Historic Tax Credits Program, a prime driver of mill and other rehabs. We also continue our efforts at the federal level to have Slater Mill declared a National Historical Park, which would further anchor our downtown where, just across the street, we recently sold a city-owned building to a Rhode Islandbased pet supply distributor for their corporate headquarters, bringing in 70 jobs. The re-opening of the Pawtucket River Bridge last year has made the city more accessible than ever to the major metro areas north and south of us and areas in between. Pawtucket is now an easier commute to a much wider area and remains a very cost-effective place to purchase property or start and own a business. Besides Slater Mill, Pawtucket is also the proud home of the Pawtucket Red Sox and the headquarters of Hasbro, Inc., the world’s second largest toymaker. But we are also home to many small businesses that hire workers, supply valued services and are the lifeblood for our economy. As mayor, I get invited to many of their ribbon cuttings and am happy to oblige. From a Dollar Store to a Pizza Hut, whose new format was an immediate hit, to a floor covering business, they all deserve the best treatment, assistance and personal attention their local government can give them. It’s called turning potential and partnerships into progress. So, if you come to Pawtucket to open a business, let us know. We’re always pleased to get out the gold scissors. |


@CityofPawtucket |



Pawtucket’s Riverfront Vision Comes Into Focus In 1793 the Blackstone River powered the launch of the American Industrial Revolution at Slater Mill in Pawtucket. More than 200 years later, with extensive redevelopment plans in place, the City of Pawtucket is again looking to the river to power an economic revolution. “We are investing time and resources to develop our downtown and riverfront because of the great economic potential they offer,” Mayor Donald R. Grebien said. “We’ve done our homework and now is the time to move forward.” Urban Communities See Economic Resurgence Grebien’s belief in the area’s potential is tied to both history and projected growth trends. After the opening of Slater Mill, Pawtucket flourished as a textile manufacturing and retail hub well into the 20th century. As mills moved south and eventually overseas, the city’s original industrial economy slowed. Over the last several years, urban communities across the nation have seen a resurgence of downtown residents and companies that value urban amenities and clusters. All of a sudden it seems people want to live and work in cities again. According to the Brookings Institution, cities grew at a faster rate than suburbs from July 2010 to July 2011, a reversal of a trend that had persisted from the rise of the automobile in the 1920s. Pawtucket’s core has also found new life. Beginning in the early 1980s with the conversion of the Green and Daniels Mill Complex to offices for Collette Vacations (now simply Collette) and Blackstone Landing, an 82-unit residential condo development, Pawtucket began to attract new investments to its waterfront. Historic Tax Credits Prime Economic Pump Private investment picked up a new head of steam in 2000 as the State of Rhode Island encouraged preservation and restoration of former mills with an effective Historic Tax Credits Program. The credits sparked conversion of nine properties in Pawtucket and Central Falls for residential or commercial uses,



Riverfront Lofts, the Fuller Mill and Tolman High School perch prominently on the banks of the Blackstone River. Riverfront Lofts exemplifies a successful mill renovation, while the Fuller Mill was recently purchased for renovation. totaling over $164 million in investment. Pawtucket Planning & Redevelopment Director Barney Heath notes that eight of the projects are located in the riverfront corridor or nearby downtown. Today these repurposed mills include more than 300 residential units and a wealth of creative-sector companies. Studies Show the Way While crucial, private investment is only one part of the multi-pronged effort to redevelop the city’s riverfront, according to Aaron Hertzberg, executive director of the Pawtucket Foundation. The foundation represents the business and not-for-profit sector as an advocate and catalyst for downtown, riverfront and transportation gateway enhancements in the city and provides research SEE RIVERFRONT | PAGE 6


MAY 2014

“There is no substitute for hard work.” Thomas A. Edison |



Riverfront FROM PAGE 4

and other resources needed for sound planning. “The public sector can also play a vital role in stimulating development by enhancing infrastructure, maintaining public spaces and improving zoning,” Hertzberg pointed out. The foundation recently completed a River Corridor Development Plan to prioritize actions that can catalyze economic activity. Showing the way is a recent market analysis prepared for the foundation by FXM Associates, a consulting firm specializing in economic planning and research with a major focus on revitalizing downtowns. The study projected continued absorption of 60 to 80 apartment units per year under existing conditions. “It also suggests an increase of another 40 units per year if supportive public-sector actions are taken,” Hertzberg said. The trend is similar for commercial markets, he added, with a projected $995,000 per year in new annual commercial property tax revenue that could be collected if “high-range” development targets are met. “It’s a great goal to meet to help pay for investments and diversify the tax base.” The centerpiece of public investment on the city’s riverfront is the recently completed Pawtucket River Bridge. The design aesthetics of the bridge were studied with local input and feature a LED light system and eagle-wing highlights inspired by the 1936 art-deco Pawtucket City Hall. Division Street on Developers’ Radar Development activity in the bridge area has picked up since the official unveiling of the highway overpass last September, which greatly improves access to the city. Nearby, at 21 Division Street, work has begun to convert an auto mechanic shop to a $4.6 million medical office building. Across the street, a former auto dealership has been cleared to construct a $1 million bridge overlook park. Heath says that Division Street’s largest private-sector investment is yet to come, when the city awards development rights for a prime 10-acre site that overlooks the Seekonk River on its way to Narragansett Bay. Three developers submitted qualifications and will meet with the city’s economic development team prior to submitting proposals for the site. “This is prime waterfront property, with great highway access to two major metro areas,” Heath said. “We would like to see a proposal that takes advantage of the views and water access, perhaps including a mix of residential and commercial uses. The city wants to be a partner to help this site reach the potential we know it offers.” The partnership Heath envisions includes a developer making a significant private investment on the Division Street parcel while the city upgrades infrastructure, possibly including construction of recreational paths to connect nearby properties to the waterfront and other publicly owned properties. Revamping the Riverbanks Just south along the river, the city has newly begun a $2.2 million project that by September will transform the former old State Pier property off School Street into the new Festival Pier, with a waterfront pedestrian plaza, lighting, new parking and fishing areas, landscaping, a canoe/kayak launching area and a state-of-the-art accessible boat ramp. Heath said the city has also begun a comprehensive planning process for improvements on the opposite riverbank that will be remediated by National Grid. “Partnerships are key because the site abuts city-owned property to the north, which could be incorporated into the scope of any proposed reuse,” he says. “Public spaces and recreational amenities like bike paths and riverfront overlooks can be important to generating the increased activity we want to see in our community,” explains Hertzberg. “We are trying to create an enhanced sense of place where people gather and experience the historic, natural and cultural features of Pawtucket,” he said. Adds Heath, planned sections of the Blackstone Valley Bikeway are funded to link Providence with Pawtucket, Central Falls and completed sections in Cumberland and points north, much of which courses along riverbanks. The city plans to complement the official path with striped bike lanes and other bike and pedestrian-friendly measures, including shortening intersection crossings and converting one-way roads to two-way roads. “The improvements align with the changing neighborhood,” Heath said, noting that single-use manufacturers required large lane widths. Now, as new residential uses are introduced and artists, designers and professionals fill converted mixed-use mill spaces, a new multi-modal transportation network is more suitable.



Festival Pier hosts a myriad of events on the Blackstone River (including the Pawtucket Arts Festival Dragon Boat Races) to drive activity in the Riverfront corridor and is slated for a $2.2 million renovation. Armory Arts District Hits New Stride Perhaps nowhere is the continued rise of this new sector more evident than in the burgeoning Armory Arts District section of downtown, where creative, focused residents and small businesses dominate the landscape. Following the leadership and vision of famed Pawtucket-based interior designer Morris Nathanson, the neighborhood on the other side of the Blackstone River behind City Hall has transformed into an artist enclave. Across from the Armory on Exchange Street, Scott and Rae Davis, owners of the Rhode Island Antiques Mall in Pawtucket, in 2013 purchased the 19,000 sq. ft. George H. Fuller & Son mill building. The Davises plan to convert the white-walled mill to live/work units and commercial space. The development of the Fuller building will complete a complex of four mixed-use mill conversion projects on Exchange Street. The most recently completed revamp, The Design Exchange, markets its last unleased space as part of a “unique, collaborative work environment” for those in the design industries. Across the street, the Pawtucket Armory Arts Center LLC, in a castle-like building on the National Register of Historic Places, houses a mix of performing artists, including the acclaimed Sandra Feinstein-Gamm Theatre, The Rhody Center for World Music and Dance and Providence Tango. At 65 Blackstone Avenue nearby, Mad Dog Artist Studios offers small-scale private spaces and monthly memberships with access to co-working and gallery space. A bit further north, photographers, animators, video producers and designers cluster at 80 Fountain Street. TEN31 Productions, the firm behind the gargoyles at WaterFire Providence and a range of other living statues, recently moved to the district. Untapped Potential for Retail, Commercial Uses Beyond the investments outlined in the River Corridor Plan, Heath said the Pawtucket Foundation and city officials are working to spur retail operations in the area, which the FXM Associates market analysis showed was underserved by restaurants and retail establishments. That’s something local property and business owners, residents and city officials want to change. “Owners of the Apex property have been working to market their space as Riverfront Commons, a lifestyle-oriented, mixed-use center with large and small retail spaces,” Heath related. “There’s also opportunity for coffee shops, restaurants, galleries and specialty stores, perhaps targeting artists, throughout the downtown.” Residential and office development has continued in the area.  In April the city announced a purchase and sale agreement for the Benjamin C. Chester Building at 175 Main Street to Pet Food Experts.  The fast-growing Rhode Island company will relocate its corporate headquarters from Cumberland to the building in the center of downtown and immediately bring in 70 employees.  As part of the agreement, the first floor space will remain active as a Visitor Center. A bit upriver local development firm Tai-O Group recently started construction on 90 apartments on Roosevelt Avenue, just over the line into Central Falls. The new construction adds to the 67 units already filled at the complex. And, a few minutes ride from downtown, Brady Sullivan Properties has begun leasing the 142 units recently completed in the former American Insulated Wire mill complex on Pawtucket’s Central Avenue in a more than $20 million project. Grebien sees such continued increase of residential urban density as a proven way to help advance the city’s efforts along the riverfront. “To thrive we need activity in every market: creative, retail, residential and the public sector,” he says, stressing that the city has plans and partners. “It’s time to execute.” |


MAY 2014

Pawtucket’s Economic Development “Tool Box,” a Great Mix of Incentives The City of Pawtucket offers outstanding business opportunities and ready economic development tools for entrepreneurs, artisans, investors and businesses, large and small. Whether you’re a craft brewer in search of a state-of-the-art water plant, a trendy designer in need of creative and affordable mill space or a major corporation serving clients in the Boston to New York corridor, Pawtucket boasts unique assets to relocate your existing

business or help get a new business up and running. One of the city’s prime attractions is the time-honored one of location, location, location. Pawtucket lies at the north edge of the Providence metropolitan area while being just a short hop to downtown Boston, benefiting from the improved accessibility provided by last year’s reopening of the newly rebuilt Pawtucket River Bridge on I-95.

“We’re just a quick 10-minute drive from downtown Providence and even closer to the East Side, home to Brown University and RISD,” said city Planning & Redevelopment Director Barney Heath. “We’re also only a 45-minute drive to Boston” and readily accessible via MBTA commuter rail in South Attleboro, just over the Massachusetts line. To cut red tape, the city has developed an economic “tool box” so that businesses and developers can bet-

ter navigate local regulations and be guided in a “one-stop shopping” approach to doing business in the city. Heath said Pawtucket takes advantage of its customer-friendly size to work proactively with businesses to find the right mix of incentives that will help attract and stimulate business growth. One example of that outreach is visits with top officials at local businesses by the city’s economic development team, headed by Mayor Grebien and occasionally including the heads of the Pawtucket Foundation and Northern Rhode Island Chamber of Commerce. The idea is to get an up close and personal understanding of their challenges and needs and introduce them to city officials who can assist their goals. “We want to listen directly to our business people’s concerns, share what support the city may be able to offer them and also just recognize what they contribute to Pawtucket,” Grebien said. Heath noted that, besides offering more affordable rent, lease and land costs, the city’s tax rates are comparable or often better than surrounding communities. “We’re even willing to negotiate phased tax abatements with businesses making significant property investments,” he added, as was recently done, for example, to assist the more than $20 million American Wire mixed-use project in a former mill. One business that relocated to Pawtucket, prospered and has since expanded is Armando & Sons Meat Market, which first opened on Broad Street in Providence in 1992. It later moved to its current location on Pine Street in Pawtucket in 2003 and recently branched out to Providence, now employing more than 100 workers. In reflecting on his decision to relocate to Pawtucket, Armando Nieves, president of Armando & Sons Meat Market, said, “We made the decision to relocate our company to the City of Pawtucket. Since that time, we have found a partner in City Hall. In our experience, the City of Pawtucket has been an active participant in the growth of the business community. We are more than satisfied with our decision.” SEE ECONOMIC | PAGE 9 |



Pawtucket’s Transportation Upgrades Good for Business powerful [eagles’] wings that distinguish the entry of our City Hall and sit atop its steeple, we have sought to forever link our historic past to our rising future.” The new Conant Street Bridge reopened to traffic for the first time in a quarter century on the last day of 2013 after a 2-year, $4.3 million RIDOT project. It was built with weathering steel to develop a protective patina to coat the base and require less maintenance and was engineered to carry all modern truck loads, with a design life of 75 to 100 years. “This bridge restores the link from Fairlawn to the Conant Street Industrial Park area that is targeted for commuter rail development and will also improve public safety and visibility to protect our historic Mineral Spring Cemetery, while offering increased accessibility for this neighborhood,” Grebien said. With the Pawtucket River Bridge reopening, “This gives us two bridges to progress that reopened in the city in 2013.”


A guided bike tour, led by the Blackstone Valley Tourism Council, prepares to leave the historic Slater Mill in downtown Pawtucket , connecting visitors to the Blackstone Valley Bikeway in Cumberland and Lincoln. Beyond the old mantra about the importance of location, location, location, there’s another prescription perhaps more suitable to the way business is conducted today: access, access, access. Access can mean a high number of convenient highway ramps or a low-impact bicycle route to work. It can mean a smarter bus route on a faster pace to urban job centers or putting new pavement on a long-neglected main road where bumps and cracks used to be. It can mean taking the rapid bus instead of driving yourself. Or it can mean years of detours finally giving way to reopened bridges that, in Pawtucket’s case in 2013, restore convenient access to stranded business districts as well as the city’s downtown. The $81 million Pawtucket River Bridge rebuilding project brought a signature art-deco design and a lighting scheme that allows a display of millions of color combinations, transforming the I-95 stretch of road from a bland span to a superhighway landmark. And the reopening of the Conant Street Bridge, closed for 25 years, reunited two neighborhoods and put a once isolated business park back in play for significant economic development. Convenient transportation access is often a major motivator for businesses looking to move their workforce to a particular city. In a statewide 2013 survey in Connecticut, business and industry leaders ranked transportation as the third most important economic issue, trailing only initiatives in economic development and education. With the reopening of multiple access ramps for I-95 arcing the city and an easy commute to the Providence and Boston metro areas, Pawtucket has resumed its place on the fast lane for business access in southern New England. The city also, after an extensive study, launched an ambitious road repaving project, targeting $15 million for the first phase of upgrades. “We’re working hard to make our historic downtown a convenient place to access by car, bus, bike or foot,” said Barney Heath. “We have a number of transportation projects scheduled to roll out progressively over the next decade, which will make Pawtucket even easier to navigate.” Two Bridges to Prosperity Mayor Grebien noted that the new Pawtucket River Bridge, originally known colorlessly as Bridge 550, was, by state legislation, granted the branding of the local name, although strictly speaking, it spans where the Blackstone River becomes the Seekonk River in Pawtucket. The bridge replaced the prior one built in 1958 after its declining load capacity led to weight restrictions and truck detours that pocked the roadways throughout downtown, collateral damage the Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) kept its promise to repair. “Some may see this bridge carrying I-95 as merely a way for cars and trucks to go from Point A to Point B,” Mayor Grebien said at the bridge’s dedication ceremony last September. “But Richard Kazarian and the rest of the city’s Bridge Design Committee always saw it as something more. They successfully sought a design that would provide a link between the Pawtucket of today and our proud historic heritage.” Kazarian, a city resident and noted antiques dealer, who headed a design panel that included local artists and designers, worked closely with RIDOT to enhance the bridge’s visual elements. At the dedication he spoke of the bridge’s connection to the city’s industrial history: “By employing the use of the


Restoring Commuter Rail to Pawtucket The cities of Pawtucket and Central Falls are working with RIDOT to assess the feasibility of bringing back commuter rail service to the neighboring cities, said city Assistant Director of Planning & Redevelopment Susan Mara. Utilizing a $1.9 million federal set-aside, a preliminary engineering study will be completed in 2015, assessing the feasibility of having a commuter rail stop in Pawtucket. Prior surveys have pegged the optimum location around Pawtucket’s Barton and Weeden streets area. “A commuter rail stop will have a game-changing economic development impact on Pawtucket and Central Falls,” said Aaron Hertzberg, executive director of the Pawtucket Foundation. “With smart transit-oriented development, the introduction of rail will not only provide increased access to jobs and education opportunities but also increase property values, accelerate mill rehabs and stimulate in-fill development,” Hertzberg said. “A commuter rail station will provide much-needed transportation options for residents who must travel to their jobs in Providence, Warwick or the greater Boston area.” Leave the Driving to RIPTA Promoting greater access from Pawtucket to other cities is a new initiative by the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA). Mara said RIPTA will debut the state’s first Rapid Bus Route, called the R-Line, combining a series of improvements to move passengers more quickly along the two highest ridership bus corridors in the state. The R-Line will connect downtown Pawtucket through Providence, south to the Cranston city line. “RIPTA’s innovations will create new bus shelters, signage, recycling cans, bike racks and benches and improve way-finding with directions to many key neighborhood destinations,” Mara said. She noted RIPTA is also working to identify a local partnership for regular cleanings of each bus stop and on-call repairs for any damaged site. Downtown One-Ways on Way Out Access is all about getting from one place to another in the most efficient or enjoyable fashion – two characteristics that Pawtucket’s historically confusing and notorious one-way downtown traffic patterns have never been known for. Pawtucket’s Downtown Design Plan, released in 2011 with the assistance of the Pawtucket Foundation, calls for unsnarling traffic throughout the downtown core by removing all of the one-ways, one at a time. Specific downtown streets scheduled for upgrades include Roosevelt Avenue, Exchange Street and the East Avenue Extension. Bikeway Progress For a growing legion of commuters, two wheels is the way to go. According to an article last year in The Christian Science Monitor, bike commuting grew 47 percent nationwide between 2000 and 2011, while a national survey found almost 3,400 Rhode Islanders commuting by bike, the 14th highest proportion in the United States. Heath, the city’s Planning & Redevelopment director, said Pawtucket is working with RIDOT and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (RIDEM) to complete the city’s section of the Blackstone River Bikeway. Pawtucket’s riverfront is the southern end of the future bikeway and will eventually run 50 miles north to Worcester, Massachusetts. Heath said more than 10 miles of off-road, multi-use bike paths run through Cumberland and Lincoln into Woonsocket, with the remaining 3-plus miles now under design. Once completed, the Blackstone River Bikeway will connect with the bikeway in Massachusetts. “We continue to work with both RIDOT and RIDEM to connect existing pieces of the bikeway,” says Heath, which currently ends in Cumberland’s Valley Falls before resuming at Pawtucket’s Town Landing. From there, sharrows (sharedlane markings) guide bike riders to Providence’s picturesque East Side, connecting with the George Redman Linear Park, the Washington Bridge and the nearly 15-mile East Bay Bike Path. |


MAY 2014

Economic FROM PAGE 7

SBA Workshops Now Offered To assist startups as well as businesses looking to grow, Pawtucket has partnered with the Rhode Island office of the U.S. Small Business Administration to sponsor a year-long series of free workshops. The panels, conducted by experts in a variety of business areas, help bring the kind of critical information, strategies and assistance needed for financial success. Heath said the effort also includes partnerships with TD Bank, the Pawtucket Foundation and others. Workshops range from the basics of how to write a business plan and small business loan funding options to social media marketing and accounting for non-accountants.  All the workshops are being held at the conveniently located downtown Visitor Center at 175 Main Street. The entire workshop schedule can be accessed at  

Low-Interest Loans Available In its 35th year, the Pawtucket Business Development Corporation (PBDC), the city’s nonprofit lending agency, provides local businesses or those looking to relocate to Pawtucket with financial reviews and low-cost financing for qualified applicants.  Since the PBDC was revived in 1993, it has provided 65 business loans, totaling $3,823,700.  These PBDC loans, in turn, have generated $29,364,003 in additional bank financing to fuel business growth. “The PBDC is open for business with money in the bank available for loans,” said Michael Chute, the nonprofit corporation’s president. “This investment stimulates economic growth by encouraging new businesses to relocate to Pawtucket or existing companies to expand and grow, creating new jobs for Pawtucket residents. It’s Economic Development 101,” he said. Chute said recent examples of PBDC-provided loans include $20,000 in working capital to the Bucket Brewery for expansion of its craft brewery operation, a $100,000 refinancing loan to Colonial Mills, Inc., a rug manufacturing company employing 85 people, and an $80,000 loan to the Rhode Island Antiques Mall to acquire its property at 345 Fountain Street, overlooking I-95. Chute said PBDC welcomes new ventures and new jobs that help make the city a better place to start or grow a business. For more information on the program, go to Enterprise Zones Spark Investment  Pawtucket also is home to two state-approved Enterprise Zones, where Ccorporations can receive state tax benefits for job creation.  Located on each side of the city, Heath said the two zones encompass wide swaths of industrial and commercial properties. A recent example of a business taking advantage of the Enterprise Zone tax incentives is Tunstall Americas, a medical call center that has already brought 250 new jobs to the city and is on target for further job creation. To determine if your business is eligible for Enterprise Zone credits, contact New England Economic Development Services at   To cut red tape and save time and money, one-stop permitting review meetings are held monthly at City Hall. Weekly business “developer meetings,” attended by key officials from the Planning & Redevelopment, Zoning & Code Enforcement and Fire Departments, are open to businesses and individuals developing or renovating property to ensure their project moves forward smoothly. To schedule a one-stop meeting or get specifics about the city’s economic development incentives, contact Herb Weiss at “The message to my economic development team has been to roll out the welcome mat to businesses,” Mayor Grebien said. “That is certainly reflected in our specific economic development incentives but more importantly by the importance and personal attention with which we treat everyone who wants to establish or expand a business in the city.” |

testimonial “Pawtucket leadership continually demonstrates its commitment to improvement. Mayor Grebien and staff have always gone the extra mile to help my businesses, while civic organizations like the Pawtucket Foundation further enhance the city’s growth prospect.”



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Mad Dog Artist Studios at 65 Blackstone Avenue is currently home to over 35 artists. These artists are working in a wide range of media: jewelry, metalworking, painting, weaving, mixed media, sculpture and ceramics.



“Providence has its PPAC, Trinity Repertory Company and WaterFire, and Newport has its beaches and mansions. They all brand their communities in distinct ways,” says Herb Weiss, Pawtucket’s economic & cultural affairs officer. “The City of Pawtucket, the birthplace of the American Industrial Revolution, has a rich heritage of technological innovation and the living legacy of its mills, where it all took place and continues in a new way today.” According to Weiss, over 28 years ago Morris and Phyllis Nathanson of Blackstone Studios, 163 Exchange Street, successfully led efforts to bring artists and small design companies to the city’s mills to occupy artist studios and live/work spaces. Their efforts would later have a major impact in mill reuse throughout the state. Weiss said the city’s many stately mill buildings are much more than bricks and mortar. “These historic mills are our cultural and economic assets,” said Weiss, noting that many of the mills have become repurposed and reenergized as homes for artists, artisans, designers, technology-based businesses and an ever-growing creative community.


Upscale loft living in American Wire Residential Lofts, 413 Central Avenue.


Live/work artist studio of Morris Nathanson at Blackstone Studios, 163 Exchange Street.


Open Spaces Enhance Creativity In 2001 Gina DiSpirito made a decision that would push her advertising agency to the next level. DiSpirito, the founder and creative director of GLAD WORKS, relocated her growing company from her home into one of the first properties she looked at, a Pawtucket mill space. “We looked at traditional office space in commercial properties, but those spaces just didn’t feel inspiring enough to us. We wanted space that would lend to fostering a creative team environment,” DiSpirito indicated. She further noted, “I love the energy that comes from my studio’s open floor plan.” For DiSpirito and her design team, working in a wide-open space supports collaboration, and the history and character of a renovated mill building provided the perfect setting for creative work to take place at a full-service advertising agency. Ultimately, her professional colleagues suggested she visit the former Chernack Manufacturing Company mill at 545 Pawtucket Avenue, along the Pawtucket-Providence border. DiSpirito admits it was love at first sight, and she made a quick decision to move her small business into the 145,000 sq. ft. historic mill built in 1900 and was one of the first tenants to set up shop on the third floor. DiSpirito’s 3,200 sq. ft. office was initially a bit rough around the edges but with vision she knew something special could take shape in that space. Today her clients experience a “wow” factor when they enter what is now, as the company has grown, a 5,300 sq. ft. office that many visitors compare to a New York City loft, though at a much more affordable rate than New York or even Providence could typically even approach. Creating a Sense of Community Len Lavoie, a partner at Rhode Island Commercial Industrial Realty, which markets and services mill properties, adds that mills are extremely popular for artists and design-sector companies, including startups. “Small spaces are available for a reasonable price, especially now that they are being renovated to meet all the new fire and safety codes,” Lavoie said. “Operating out of a mill gives my tenants a sense of community,” Lavoie related and a feeling that they will not find in more traditional office spaces. “Artists really appreciate being around other artists and creative driven companies. This allows them to collaborate on projects and have a sense of camaraderie when working closely together.”


MAY 2014 G! T!* N N I AS E RE E L RE W F NO THS ON M 2


GLAD WORKS, a creative advertising agency located at 545 Pawtucket Avenue, benefits from having a collaborative and open work space. Over the last 24 years, Lavoie said he has brought literally thousands of artists and designers into the mills he represents. He sees the Pawtucket mills as particularly having a very good mix of tenants, from artists to design companies, bakeries and coffee shops to boxing gyms, computer-related businesses, theater companies and art galleries. “We will even have a historic diner, named the ‘Miss Lorraine Diner,’ at 560 Mineral Spring Avenue to service its tenants,” he says. The clustering of companies is something many developers as well as tenants try to encourage, explained Aaron Hertzberg, executive director of the Pawtucket Foundation. “When people or companies are clustered in shared spaces they are more likely to interact, collaborate and share business opportunities. Innovative developers across the country are trying to intentionally design spaces to encourage what they call ’collisions’ of people and ideas,” Hertzberg said. The concept has also worked well for businesses in Pawtucket’s Armory Arts District. At The Design Exchange, 161 Exchange Street, owners LLB Architects lease space to other design-related businesses, including Designs by Lolita, Fuzion Design, Hollester Interiors and Wozny/Barbar & Associates, Inc. A block over, at 80 Fountain Street, Axion Media Lab, Focus Vision Media and They’re Using Tools! work to communicate client messages, often feeding off each other’s design, media, animation and video production talents. |


At LLB Architects, located at 161 Exchange Street, an open office floor plan surrounds the core to take advantage of large window openings on the perimeter.





413 Central Avenue • Pawtucket RI • (401) 475-6880

75 S. Union Street • Pawtucket RI • (401) 722-4001



Open 7 Days a Week!

Open 7 Days a Week!

*On New 14 Month Lease. Limited time offer subject to change.

Slater Mill MuSeuM

67 Roosevelt Avenue • Pawtucket, RI 02860 401-725-8638 • Open 7 days, May through October |



Your Official Guide to Experiencing Pawtucket Duke Robillard. The attraction was recently named the Ocean State’s “Top Museum Worth Traveling For” by, a vacation-rental website that’s part of the travel site TripAdvisor. While you’re at Hope Artiste Village, be sure to stop by New Harvest Coffee Roasters, where roaster Eric Lepine was recently named a winner of the 2014 Coastal New England Rising Stars Award from

Arts and Entertainment District


See Tomorrow’s All-Stars Today - Want to preview the next greats of Major League Baseball? Chances are you’ll spot them taking the field for the Pawtucket Red Sox or their International League opponents from one of over 10,000 seats at the renovated McCoy Stadium, One Columbus Avenue. The Boston Red Sox affiliate hosts 72 home games from April to September against fellow Triple-A teams from cities around the country. McCoy remains the site of the longest game ever played in professional baseball history, lasting 33 innings. The Pawtucket-based baseball stadium, one of the state’s premier tourist stops, offers affordable fun for the whole family. For a listing of home games, go to

Pawtucket is not only an outstanding community in which to live and work but also a great place to play and to be entertained. From Chinese dragon boats to championship Triple-A baseball, handcrafted jewelry exhibitors to live music in numerous genres, plus historical attractions, three critically acclaimed theater companies and top-notch recreational facilities, Pawtucket’s your ticket for a day of fun or a night on the town. There’s also year-round ice skating at the Blackstone Valley Sports Center, 25 Andrew Ferland Way, eye-opening exhibitions at the Rhode Island Watercolor Society in Slater Memorial Park on Newport Avenue, where its 435 acres also offer a great place to take a stroll. In addition, the new Rhode IslandMusicHall of Fame at Hope Artiste Village was recently named the “Top Museum Worth Traveling For” in Rhode Island. Or you can satisfy your palate at one of the city’s many fine restaurants, from vegetarian and numerous ethnic varieties to down-home cooking at a historic diner. The enjoyment is here, all year round, just waiting for you and the whole family to enjoy. The city’s annual marquee event is the Pawtucket Arts Festival, which holds sway in the downtown and Festival Pier riverfront areas for three weeks every September, with a dizzying array of events, most at no charge and also with free parking.

Building on a Proud History of Innovation Discover how a young industrialist who left England to launch a water-powered cotton mill in Pawtucket changed the world forever. More than 200 years ago, Samuel Slater had an idea. He built a wooden clapboard structure the size of a large garage and installed some machinery. Then he tapped the hydropower of both the Blackstone River and Pawtucket Falls. The result: For the first time in this country, cotton thread was spun by machine instead of by hand. Slater Mill at 67 Roosevelt Avenue (, a museum complex, offers a fascinating tribute to Samuel Slater and the industrial innovations he began in America. You will get an authentic glimpse of life in a 19th century industrial village, with guides and re-enactors in traditional garb. Touring Slater Mill will bring you back to the early 1800s. At the adjacent Sylvanus Brown House (1758), you can witness demonstrations of hand spinning and weaving or watch a 16,000 lb. water wheel – the only one of its kind in the country – power the machine shop in the 1810 Wilkinson Mill. You can also enjoy exhibits of 19th and 20th century machinery, plus actual productions from an early textile factory, and relive the evolution from handcrafting to machine production. Just a couple of miles down the road, tour the Rhode Island Music Hall of Fame at 1005 Main Street ( in the vast Hope Artiste Village mill complex with its dozens of resident artisans, designers and entrepreneurs to see informative inductee exhibits celebrating Rhode Island’s great musical heritage. Notable among the 2014 inductees is Pawtucket’s own


Pay no sales tax on original artwork produced and sold by hundreds of Pawtucket’s artists in their own studios or showcased in the city’s numerous art galleries. More than 60 Pawtucket streets are located within this 307acre zone, which wraps itself around the historic Slater Mill site and the downtown area. Or take a short hop to the Rhode Island Antiques Mall at 345 Fountain Street, visible from I-95, which twice Oscar-nominated, Rhode Island-born actor and antiques aficionado James Woods has been known to frequent. The Pawtucket Arts District features art studios and artists in every form, often in renovated commercial buildings and mills: printmakers, glass blowers, silversmiths, visual artists, graphic designers, leather workers, jewelry designers, photographers, screen printers, dance studios and others. Artists known the world over have their workplaces in Pawtucket. Some of the city’s famous artists include glass artist Howard Ben Tré, interior designer Morris Nathanson and artist Gretchen Dow Simpson, whose work has graced 58 covers of The New Yorker magazine.

Pawtucket Arts Festival Each September the Pawtucket Arts Festival (www.pawtucketartsfestival. org), with the 16th annual event on tap this year, features hundreds of artists showcasing their arts and crafts, along with dozens of other attractions highlighting the visual, musical and performing arts. A photography contest, film festival, juried art show and open studios tours of artist live/ work spaces in mills throughout the city, along with plays performed by local theaters, are among the many offerings. Almost every color of the musical rainbow can be heard, including salsa, jazz, zydeco, doo-wop, blues, Irish, folk, pop and classical. The opening weekend of the festival brings thousands of spectators to Festival Pier for the Rhode Island Chinese Dragon Boat Races & Taiwan Day Festival, featuring spirited races on the Pawtucket River and folk dancing and traditional music along the pier. The festival’s crowning event each year is the always much anticipated appearance of the Rhode Island Philharmonic Pops Orchestra performing their Pops in the Park concert at Slater Memorial Park, capped by a dazzling fireworks display.

On the Waterfront Enjoy recreational water activities at the city’s boat ramp, dock and fishing areas below the Division Street Bridge. You can launch your small boat and make your way down river to beautiful Narragansett Bay. The city is also implementing a comprehensive plan to upgrade the Festival Pier area for the enjoyment of residents and guests alike. In Pawtucket’s downtown there’s the Riverfront Summer Concert Series, which features great music every Sunday during the summer. Blues, swing, jazz and Dixieland fill the air at the Veterans Memorial Amphitheatre next to the City Hall complex on Exchange Street. The Slater Park Summer Concert Series brightens the summer season, including a wealth of programming geared towards children and families.

Full Recreational Facilities Slater Memorial Park is much more than a venue for music or a leisurely walk. The park features tennis and basketball courts, a bike path, fishing, picnic sites, paddle boats, a dog park, plus a very special attraction: the Charles I. D. Looff Carousel, the oldest stander carousel in the world. Across from the carousel, enjoy the creative exhibits at the Rhode Island Watercolor Society. Be

sure to stroll over to the nearby Daggett House, the oldest house in Pawtucket and one of the oldest remaining buildings in Rhode Island. Constructed in 1685, the house is furnished with period antiquities, including needlework, Colonial pewter used during the Revolutionary War and china owned by the family of General Nathanael Greene.

On Center Stage Musical comedies, Shakespeare and dramas presented just “as you like it” are performed by three resident Pawtucket theater troupes. The Sandra Feinstein-Gamm Theatre (, 172 Exchange Street, describes its mission as creating “the finest of live theater, engaging the audience intensely in current and recurrent issues of consequence.” The


Community Players (, established in 1921 and the oldest community theater group in Rhode Island, fills the seats at the Joseph Jenks Junior High School auditorium at 350 Division Street, across from McCoy Stadium. Founded in 1984 and relocated to Pawtucket in 2003. Since its founding in 2000 by Ricardo and Bernadet Pitts-Wiley, Mixed Magic Theatre (, newly relocated to 560 Mineral Spring Avenue, has brought diverse stories to the stage through words and song from wellknown dramas to original productions. Live music, as it has for decades, continues to find a welcome home in Pawtucket. StoneSoupCoffeehouse, one of New England’s oldest coffee houses, brings nationally recognized folk singers into the community hall at St. Paul’s Church, 50 Park Place. Come listen to the contemporary music at The Met, 1005 Main Street, or visit Machines withMagnets, 400 Main Street, Doherty’s East Avenue Irish Pub, 340 East Avenue, the News Cafe, 43 Broad Street, and the German American Cultural Society of RI, 78 Carter Avenue, for just a sampling of the city’s live music venues. For an entertaining visit of a different kind, the Pawtucket Armory Arts Center LLC, 172 Exchange Street (adjacent The Gamm Theatre), has been transformed into a community meeting place. Once a year the Foundry Artists Association hosts their December holiday sale of unique arts and crafts, and the Pawtucket Open Market Place draws thousands of shoppers into the city’s historic downtown. The historic Pawtucket Armory building, built in 1894 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, also has office space for cultural nonprofits.

Wining, Dining and Fresh Foods Marketing At the ModernDiner, 364 East Avenue, place your order in the nation’s first diner to be accepted on the National Register of Historic Places. The Sterling Streamliner is from a line of customized “modernistic” diners manufactured in the late 1930s. Or let your palette be your guide on a culinary tour of exotic local restaurants, including Rasoi (Indian) and Garden Grille Vegetarian Cafe, both at 727 East Avenue; Plouffe’s Cup n’ Saucer (retro diner), 267 Main Street; Murphy’s LawIrish Pub& Restaurant, 2 George Street; Doherty’s East Avenue Irish Pub, 340 East Avenue; Spumoni’s (Italian and seafood specialties), 1537 Newport Avenue; Bella Pasta Ristorante (Italian), 514 Benefit Street; Galito


MAY 2014

Restaurant (Portuguese), 214 Columbus Avenue; Pho Horn’s (Vietnamese), 50 Ann Mary Street; and La Arepa (Venezuelan), 574 Smithfield Avenue; China Inn, 285 Main Street, and the recently renovated Fountain Street Grille at the LeFoyer Club, 151 Fountain Street, among many others. For a comprehensive list of outstanding restaurants in Pawtucket, go to For beer enthusiasts, take a tour and experience the tastings at the two new craft beer makers in the city, Foolproof Brewing Company, 241 Grotto Avenue, and Bucket Brewery, 545 Pawtucket Avenue. Paint & Vino, 150 Main Street, offers easy and fun lessons in acrylic painting. Each person also receives 2 complimentary glasses of wine or beer (must be 21+).


A typical Saturday at the Farm Fresh Rhode Island’s Wintertime Farmers Market, Hope Artiste Village, 1005 Main Street. From November to May, Pawtucket becomes a destination for garden-fresh produce and other goods from local farmers at the FarmFreshRhode Island’s Wintertime Farmers Market at Hope Artiste Village, 1005 Main Street. In summer this farmers market moves to Slater Memorial Park. For details, go to

Community-Sponsored Activities An array of community-sponsored activities, from the Pawtucket Fireworks Committee’s July 3rd pyrotechnics extravaganza at McCoy Stadium to colorful ethnic festivals (Portuguese, Colombian, Greek, Chinese and German), are held annually in Pawtucket. There is also the city’s 32-year-old St. Patrick’s Parade, which steps off on the first Saturday in March to assure participation by some of the major Irish marching bands in the region and the inspiring sounds of their kilted bagpipers. Topping off each year is Pawtucket’s Winter Wonderland spectacular in Slater Memorial Park in December. You can stroll through a Victorian village consisting of buildings surrounded by hundreds of decorated Christmas trees or revel in the special holiday spirit of carolers, bell ringers, clowns, puppeteers and musicians. Youngsters can also have their pictures taken with Santa and enjoy a hay wagon ride. | For more details about what’s happening in Pawtucket, go to www. Also, for further information, contact Blackstone Valley Visitor Center, 175 Main Street, at 1-800-454-2882 or go to


“For more than a decade, since The Gamm Theatre decided to move from the capital city to Pawtucket, the company has received an extraordinary level of assistance from the city, its leaders and employees. In the past several years, Mayor Grebien and the City Council have demonstrated in many ways that they recognize how The Gamm contributes significantly to the quality of life in Pawtucket.”





Pawtucket Manufacturing: Innovation Runs Through It There’s a theme interwoven with the history of manufacturing in Pawtucket that goes well beyond the stately mills and fast-flowing rivers tamed for hydropower. It has to do with entrepreneurship, invention, innovation and adapting to changing times and markets. That theme runs through the cotton spinning revolution that began at Samuel Slater’s mill in 1793. It was evident in the 19th century dominance of thread companies, such as Conant/Coats & Clark, and again in the 20th century. This occurred when two brothers named Hassenfeld began selling textile remnants and later school supplies, beginning a company that, when G.I. Joe came along in 1963, would become known worldwide as Hasbro, Inc. Even today, according to a recent survey by Manufacturers’ News, Inc., Pawtucket, with more than 200 manufacturers, remains second in the state for manufacturing employment with 6,462 jobs or three-fourths as many as Providence, which has two-and-a-half times the population and almost three times the geographic size. “There’s something almost genetic about the abiding presence of outstanding manufacturers in Pawtucket,” said city Planning & Redevelopment Director Barney Heath, who has worked with scores of such companies. “It seems to be built into Pawtucket’s DNA.” Pawtucket remains the corporate headquarters for privately held Teknor Apex Company, a diversified material science company founded in the city in 1924 and now with eight divisions in the United States and four overseas. Besides such all-star companies, Pawtucket is also home to many more traditional manufacturers as well as new innovators in today’s highly competitive global economy. Braided rug maker Colonial Mills, Inc. at 560 Mineral Spring Avenue has learned to adapt new technology, ratchet up product quality and services and improve delivery time. The process, as it has for more than 200 years, still starts by sewing pieces together. But today the company’s unique and high-quality, made-in-Pawtucket braided rugs and baskets are sold by major chains such as JCPenney, Restoration Hardware, Ethan Allen and Pottery Barn. Donald Scarlata, president and CEO, refined his methods while resisting the stampede to overseas production where he feels he would lose control over quality. “I can walk onto the production floor and easily see what is going on,” he said.  Scarlata left corporate America 35 years ago to buy the rug company with his brother with a $3,000 investment and five employees. Housed in a huge brick mill, the recent economic downturn forced a trimming, but he still employs 80


Nick Garrison, founder and president of Foolproof Brewing Company, 241 Grotto Avenue.



In Colonial Mills, Inc.’s cablelock braiding department, a worker maintains the 24 bobbin carrier machines, while following specific charts to ensure that bobbins are placed correctly to create the desired braided design. The mill is located at 560 Mineral Spring Avenue. workers, most from Pawtucket and Central Falls. To get him past the downturn, Scarlata said the City of Pawtucket and the state lent important financial assistance. “Everyone helped out at a very difficult time for my company to protect the jobs. I will never forget this,” he said. “Colonial Mills will stay put in Pawtucket.” Scarlata also credits his employees for the company’s success. “They are very hardworking and dedicated and many have been with me for a very long time.” Sales are up 20 percent, boosted by the company’s online presence, technological advances and lean manufacturing principles. More recently, the city has quickly become a center for the rapidly expanding craft beer brewing scene. Two major ingredients fermenting that growth have been affordable mill space and the high-quality water produced by the city’s investment in a $50 million state-of-the-art water filtration plant and a total of about $100 million of improvements in the water-delivery infrastructure, according to Dylan Zelazo, a member of Mayor Grebien’s staff. “We’re enjoying a burgeoning craft beer industry that is taking root in our mills,” Zelazo said. “It’s manufacturing of a different kind but with all the creative energy and innovation that Pawtucket has always been known for.” Nick Garrison, founder and president of Foolproof Brewing Company, took his business cue when the home brew he served at his wedding became a big hit. Four years later, with a detailed business plan and team that included brewmaster Damase Olsson, Garrison left his aerospace industry job to start brewing full time. With city assistance, Foolproof set up shop in an industrial area at 241 Grotto Avenue in December 2012. The microbrewery has since added two new 60-barrel fermenters to keep pace with demand. In a year distribution spread into Massachusetts and now into New Hampshire and Connecticut, producing 2,200 barrels, or 96,000 gallons, per year. Like Garrison, Bucket Brewery owner Nate Broomfield and his partners took a hobby to a pilot operation in a 375 sq. ft. room in the Lorraine Mills at 560 Mineral Spring Avenue. They’ve since migrated to a space almost 10 times larger, with 10 times the beer-making capacity, in a mill a mile away at 545 Pawtucket Avenue, which began full operation in October 2013. Zelazo said he anticipates a third craft brewer in the city in the coming months, with hopefully many more to come. “Success breeds success, and the city looks forward to helping support this growing sector of our manufacturing economy and this kind of innovation wherever we can,” he said. |

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