WINTHROP – Thanks to a collaboration between town officials and UMass Boston the town now has a roadmap to pave the way for economic development.
Town Manager James McKenna said the town needs to have a clear and current plan of action if it is going to attract business, keep residents in town for services and draw others to Winthrop to support the local economy. Last week McKenna introduced Monica Lamboy, senior associate with the Collins Center for Public Management at UMass Boston, to the town council and presented the results of a study conducted by them.
The study revealed several trends that have an impact on business. First, there has been a decline in Winthrop’s population in the last 60 years, from a high of 20,335 residents in the 1970s to 17,497 in 2010, a 14 percent decline losing 2,838 residents. The decline is important Lamboy said because businesses depend on local traffic. The study also found that Winthrop residents use public transportation to get to work at a much higher percentage than the state average. Winthrop’s workforce is twice as likely to use public transportation and have a commute time almost 10 minutes less. Lamboy also pointed out that since 1990 there has been a 41 percent decline in local jobs, a trend she said that was countertrend to other communities in the study. Those communities include Beverly, Chelsea, Hull, Revere, Salem and Swampscott. Another finding in the study is that Winthrop offers less than 0.2 percent jobs per resident in the workforce. This impacts local businesses because there is a population decrease during the day with residents going outside Winthrop for employment. Reflecting this trend is that 84 percent of Winthrop businesses have under 10 employees. More specifically, 152 establishments out of 240 have one to four employees. In addition, 68 percent of the residential community’s retail spending is done out of town.
“There has been a resurgence of restaurant businesses in Winthrop,” said McKenna, noting that was a good thing because it brings people into Winthrop.
“The golf course is the single largest land use in town,” Lamboy said of the 12-acre property. The next largest is the Elks Lodge with 2.4 acres. It was noted that a considerable amount land in Winthrop is taken up by parking and housing for young families is not high.
As a result of the study a five-year strategic plan was developed. The vision, according to Lamboy, is that Winthrop will be home to a vibrant business economy that is uniquely its own. Some of the strategies to get there include promotion of environmental resources, improve accessibility to and from town, create a strong town center, increase the number of local jobs, promote Winthrop as a great place to raise of family, and increase targeted regional marketing.
“Now we have to put together an action plan with a task force in the community,” McKenna said.
“We have lots of reasons to come to town we just have to market it,” said Precinct 5 Councillor Russ Sanford.
“We can now actually look at doing things,” said Council Vice President Nicholas Delvento.