Mayor Dan Rizzo said in a letter to attendees at the Economic Development Summit held Friday at the Comfort Inn in Revere that he wanted to “send a strong message to regional and national developers that Revere is open for business and ready to work with anyone interested in helping us realize our full potential.”
Judging by the large turnout of developers, business owners, and state and city officials at the Summit and the exciting commercial development opportunities that were presented during the speaking program and in two well-orchestrated videos highlighting the city, Rizzo and Director of Economic Development John Festa and his team accomplished their goals and more.
Afterwards there was universal praise about the professionalism and positive impact of the one most exciting and well-organized informational events in the city’s proud history.
“This was a fabulous event,” said Laura D’Amico, president of the Revere Chamber of Commerce. “This far exceeded any of my expectations. The entire event was top notch and professional – the speakers, the presentations, the thorough organizing of all aspects of the Summit – it’s so exciting for Revere and the potential for our great city that was on display today.”
Manuel J. Bolivar, assistant vice president and store manager TD Bank, joined several people on a guided bus tour of the city following the speaking program. Paul Rupp, economic development consultant, and Frank Stringi, Revere planning and community development director, served as tour guides and answered questions during the tour. Rizzo and Festa served as tour guides on a second bus tour.
“Everything I’m seeing today is great for the city of the Revere,” said Bolivar. “The redoing of Revere Beach, all the new developments happening, the casino resort proposal – it’s going to put Revere on the map with any city in the country. And we’re going to be here to help businesses.”
Of course the $1 billion casino/resort complex being proposed for construction on the Suffolk Downs property weighed in heavily at the Summit. Beyond creating thousands of jobs, the casino project would have a significant economic impact on the city of Revere and increase the potential for development opportunities on nearby Revere Beach. Chip Tuttle, CEO of Suffolk Downs, spoke about Suffolk working closely with the city of Revere from the very outset of the casino/resort complex proposal and the continuing discussions that are happening with city officials.
Congressman Edward Markey, Mass. Speaker of the House Robert DeLeo, State Sen. Anthony Petruccelli, and State Rep. Kathi-Anne Reinstein were among the impressive list of guest speakers at the event.
Victoria Maguire, state permit ombudsman and director of the Executive Office of Community Development, and Rebecca Sullivan, first vice president of finance for MassDevelopment, addressed respectively the topics of expediting permitting at the state level and financial assistance at the state level.
Festa said the well-conceived Economic Development Summit took four months of planning and preparation.
“The major inspiration was that Mayor Rizzo wanted my department and what I do to be proactive in gaining national and regional interest throughout the country,” said Festa. “He [Rizzo] wanted us not to just sit back but to be aggressive in trying to attract developers from all across the country.”
Festa put together an economic development team to help plan the Summit and after compiling a list of developers and sending out invitations, the team made follow-up phone calls to the developers. Developers from California, Texas, New Jersey and other states traveled to Revere for the Summit.
The tremendous success of the Summit and can be measured in the number of responses that the Rizzo administration has garnered since the Summit.
“I spoke to developers after the Summit and have since received e-mails about how they want to look at specific properties in Revere and that was our goal,” said Festa. “The Summit went very well and we’re extremely happy.”
A total of 151 people attended the Summit that began with breakfast at the Comfort Inn and a luncheon at Antonia’s on Revere Beach. In between, the guests were treated to a look at the new Revere that is being unveiled throughout the city, notably in projects such as the Wonderland transit-oriented project and the spectacular pedestrian footbridge that links Wonderland Station with Revere Beach.
“There’s so much interest from developers and we’ve received so much exposure from the Summit – people are calling to set up meetings about different properties in the city, on the beach, and in the surrounding area,” said Festa. “The Summit was something that was needed and I’m happy that Mayor Rizzo gave the go-ahead to do it.”