Clinton, MA- September 13, 2022- On Tuesday, September 13th, the Clinton Area Chamber of Commerce in conjunction with the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Town of Clinton hosted an economic development conference to highlight the progress the town has made to date and additional opportunities for further growth and investment in the town. The Museum of Russian Icons, one of the first members of the Clinton Area Chamber of Commerce, generously offered their basement-level auditorium room for the attendees to have breakfast and discuss how to better the town.
The conference was attended by an array of local elected leaders, including Clinton Select Board members Matt Kobus, Julie Perusse, Sean Kerrigan, and Mary Rose Dickhaut, as well as State Representative Meghan Kilcoyne, State Senator John Cronin, and State Senator Harriette Chandler. Clinton Town Administrator Michael Ward was also in attendance and thanked Senator Chandler, who is retiring from her service at the end of her term, for her assistance with the town on many initiatives over the years.
Also in attendance at the conference were regional leaders from MassDevelopment, the Worcester Business Development Corporation, the Massachusetts Office of Business Development, The Hanover Theatre, and several members of the newly formed Clinton Area Chamber of Commerce. Several Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce staff who frequently work with the Clinton Chamber and coordinated the conference were also in attendance.
The Town of Clinton’s Director of Community and Economic Development, Phil Duffy, presented the community’s “To Make Clinton a Better Clinton” plan. The presentation featured some recent achievements such as Clinton’s infrastructure improvements in the downtown area, including $8.5 million in investments from the town in recent years for streetscape design and beautification. The downtown district is home to 105 employers and 700 units of housing. Duffy emphasized that housing would continue to be an area of focus given Clinton’s rapid population growth of 13.4% according to census data, bringing the town’s population to 15,428. In addition, the census found that 43,278 people live within a 15-minute drive of downtown. Clinton’s median age, according to further census data, is relatively young at 38.4 years old, and the town has a workforce of 8,250, a good sign for existing and prospective local employers.
Duffy said a focus of improving the town’s economy is to support its existing sectors, such as manufacturing – which employs 39% of Clinton’s residents – while also diversifying the town’s economy. Other leading industries for the town include health care, anchored by UMass Memorial Health Alliance’s Clinton Hospital, as well as retail, informational services, and construction.
Presentations were also made by Jodi Breidel, Regional Director of WHEAT Community Connections, and Frannie Hodge of the Clinton Greenway Conservation Trust. Breidel presented on the community nonprofit’s plans to partner with the United Way of North Central Massachusetts to build a brand-new downtown center for their retail and social service operations, which will create new housing for vulnerable residents. Hodge presented on the Massachusetts Central Rail Trail project, which is a planned 104-mile cross-state trail running from Northampton to Boston. The trail will run directly through Clinton and is expected to bring thousands of new visitors and create a significant long-term economic benefit for the town.
Duffy cited several parcels in the town that were high priority for development. The parcels included 172 Sterling Street, an 8-acre site just a block from downtown; 285 West Boylston Street, a 16-acre site which sits along Route 110 and is adjacent to the Wachusett Reservoir; 470-500 Main Street, which is a 150,000 square-foot former mill that is currently planned for a mixed-use development; the historic Strand Theatre at 58 High Street which used to be a dual-use movie theatre and bar before closing due to the pandemic; and 329 High Street, an a 1920’s era gas station and repair shop conspicuously located at the northern gateway of the downtown district.
After breakfast and presentations at the Museum of Russian Icons, Duffy led attendees on a walking tour of the downtown High Street and Main Street area. This involved a stop at the Strand Theatre to talk with the property owner and ended with a ribbon-cutting ceremony for Jack’s Mill, the planned mixed-use development at 470-500 Main Street being led by Cunningham and Associates.
The Clinton Area Chamber of Commerce, as the newest affiliate partner of the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce, will build on the conversations had during this conference and will continue to facilitate such conversations that encourage development that works for Clinton’s residents and business community.