|From Left, Kevin Kennedy, Mayor Sarno, Cong. Neal|
Since the departure of John Judge earlier this year, the city had been without a director for Economic Development. Chris Moskal had been serving in that role on an interim basis. However, today a permanent replacement was named.
Longtime Neal staffer, Kevin Kennedy, was selected to head Springfield’s Economic Development team. Sarno, in making the appointment, also announced that Moskal would be named the executive director of the Springfield Redevelopment Authority. He praised Kennedy as somebody who will “get the deal done” in terms of economic development in the city whether the project is large or small.
|Cong. Neal w/ Mayor Sarno (WMassP&I)|
Kennedy’s own remarks reflected a desire to pursue economic development in the city on all levels. His top two large scale priorities were the implementation of Rebuild Springfield, the city’s post-tornado redevelopment effort and Union Station, a project that has eluded city planners for decades. However, Kennedy also expressed an interest in smaller projects like CVS’s redevelopment of its Forest Park store and the UniFirst land swap enacted last week.
Speaking to reporters after the formal announcement, Kennedy spoke about the need to building “capacity” at the economic development office. By capacity, Kennedy explained, the city needs to develop a team that can handle the myriad economic development opportunities across the city. He is somewhat optimistic about the city’s outlook given the pent-up demand and unique opportunity rebuilding after the tornado offers. More bluntly, he described the city as having only one direction to go, impliedly up.
|Kevin Kennedy at center (WMassP&I)|
Because Union Station has been an elusive goal of Neal’s both as mayor and a member of the House of Representatives, Kennedy was also asked about that project. Construction is set to begin within the year, but it has been a torturous path. Kennedy emphasized that projects like Union Station have to be practical. The current plan calls for office space principally for the transit agencies set to serve it along with traveler oriented retail. Prior plans were far more ambitious, perhaps unrealistic.
However, many of the projects Kennedy has worked on and will work on were public endeavors. For Springfield to succeed, Kennedy explained, private business will need to step up to the plate.