New Bedford Seeks Its Third Economic Boom

(Peter Howe, NECN: New Bedford, Mass.) – Massachusetts developers are looking to revitalize New Bedford. The community once served as a massive economic center.
NECN’s Peter Howe has details.
Massachusetts developers are looking to revitalize New Bedford. The community once served as a massive economic center.
New Bedford, Massachusetts overflows with history, including two great fortunes that came and went from this fishing port. Its fabled days as an 1800s whaling capital, when New Bedford was briefly the world’s richest city, and then the 20th century textile boom. Now, New Bedford seeks a third boom, hoping to persuade developers it’s New England’s best undiscovered or not yet rediscovered, waterfront gem. And what better way to make the case than from the water, on a boat full of local business people and officials.
Shops and restaurants have flocked to the quaint downtown. Bargain-price historic buildings get fixed up every day.
Beyond the history, local officials point to 55 prime waterfront acres, promised commuter rail to Boston, oceanfront homes under $300,000, and a vibrant fishing port, the nation’s biggest. Plus, an airport that could handle much bigger planes.
The question that New Bedford is facing is one that a lot of older cities around New England are trying to deal with – what’s the first thing that gets a positive cycle of economic redevelopment going?
Through the 1990s, officials tried, and failed, to turn this old power plant into a mega-aquarium. Now some speculate it could become a casino resort.
see a plan to turn this hole into state college classrooms and dorm rooms as a great way to add life to a downtown packed with vacant storefronts. New Bedford faces plenty of other challenges – crime, poverty, blight, and toxic PCBs in the river north of Route 195 that could take decades more to clean up.
But the state’s Development Chief is convinced, even in this shaky economy, New Bedford is moving.

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