Chelsea is on the map when it comes to statewide economic development, and one top state official was in town last week to take in the scene firsthand – and to offer up assistance to keep the ball rolling.
Greg Bialecki, State Secretary for Housing and Economic Development, landed in Chelsea last Thursday morning for a cup of coffee and a tour beginning at Tito’s Bakery on Broadway.
“There was a time in Chelsea’s downtown when there was the potential for it to go in a very negative direction,” said City Manager Jay Ash during the tour with Bialecki. “He’s been an anchor and held it together.”
Tito Avellaneda added, “We never had grates on the windows or doors.”
Roy Avelleneda told Bialecki they would like to take advantage of wholesale opportunities and enhanced marketing.
“We’re seeing new and different people coming down here now and going to the businesses,” he said. “People from the waterfront are coming up to the CVS and they peek in to see what’s in here. They come in and they’re willing to explore. Those are people who weren’t here before. They feel now it’s ok to shop on Broadway. We want to market ourselves to them too. We’d love to become the Mike’s Bakery of Chelsea and we’ll get there.”
Afterward, Bialecki toured the New England Sculpture Service on Arlington Street to view the area’s creative economy, and then a taste of residential development at the upcoming One North Boston on 6th Street.
Following that, the new Residence Inn hosted a luncheon and question and answer session for Bialecki and local business leaders.
Virtually everyone in Chelsea business circles was present, including representatives from Cataldo Ambulance, Kayem Foods, Combined Properties, Wyndham Hotel, Compare Supermarkets, Harbour Food Service, ACS Development, Simboli Properties, Mark White and many more.
“When the secretary said he wanted to come to Chelsea, he said he not only wanted to talk to me, but also to all the businesses,” said Ash. “He wants to know how business is and what the state can do to help. We have a good thing going here and the reason is the relationships we all have here. Sometimes government can be a friend and sometimes it can be an even better friend.”
Bialecki told business leaders that Massachusetts has been fortunate in recovering quickly from the Great Recession – much quicker than the rest of the nation and also much quicker than previous recessions in 1981, 1991 and 2001. As a result of that, Bialecki said business and communities are hungry for development. Communities like Chelsea, he said, are particularly poised for growth as companies look for new, up-and-coming and untapped areas.
“We want to help businesses and what we can do is help to build an environment that lets you all be competitive,” he said. “I want to be able to convey the message of what opportunities are here. Unfortunately, there aren’t a lot of stories of optimism around here about Chelsea and where it’s headed. That is not a store widely told in the popular and business media.
“In some Massachusetts communities, they would rather hide some of that success under a blanket because they certain about new growth and are worried about the effect of new growth on the community,” he continued. “There is an environment in Chelsea to bring in new businesses and people here and that it can only create an even strong Chelsea community.”
Some of the major issues brought up by business leaders was bringing the Silver Line to Chelsea’s Everett Avenue corridor, and also to streamline the permitting processes throughout the state and local communities.
front page – 1
Greg Bialecki, state secretary for housing and economic development, (center) visits on Thursday morning with Roy Avelleneda, Tito Avelleneda and City Manager Jay Ash. Bialecki took a whirlwind tour of the city’s business community and hosted a working luncheon at the Residence Inn.
A worker at Tito’s Bakery slices pieces of cake for sale in the store during last Thursday’s tour.
Stopping for a photo are City Manager Jay Ash, Secretary Greg Bialecki, Roy Avelleneda, Delia Lara, and Tito Avelleneda.
Pictured prior to the business luncheon at the Residence Inn are City Manager Jay Ash, Jeff Brudnick of Louis Brudnick & Sons Insurance, State Sen. Sal DiDomenico, Secretary Greg Bialecki and Anthony J. Simboli.
Secretary Greg Bialecki told Chelsea business leaders that the state is trying to help build an environment whereby businesses can stay competitive globally.