MassDevelopment names expert to assist Pittsfield officials in developing Tyler Street area

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PITTSFIELD >> MassDevelopment has assigned an economic development professional to Pittsfield to assist city officials on the Tyler Street District development project.

Amewusika "Sika" D. Sedzro has been assigned to Pittsfield for three years, and will arrive in the city during the first week in May, said MassDevelopment spokeswoman Kelsey Abbruzzese.

She will work exclusively on initiatives to improve the Tyler Street/Morningside area, Abbruzzese said. The project's overall plan is to turn the Tyler Street area into a thriving residential neighborhood linking a future innovation district and the nearby Berkshire Medical Center to stores within walking distance.

MassDevelopment is the state finance and development agency that works with businesses, financial institutions and communities to stimulate economic growth across the commonwealth.

In 2014, MassDevelopment accepted Pittsfield as one of the first 10 of the state's 26 Gateway Cities to receive grant-funded development planning assistance for the Tyler Street area.

MassDevelopment has partnered with the Tyler Street Business Group, the Pittsfield Economic Development Authority and Pittsfield's Department of Community Development on the Tyler Street project.

In December, MassDevelopment selected Pittsfield, Brockton and New Bedford as the three cities to receive a full-time economic development consultant during the second round of funding for the Transformative Development Initiative, which advances redevelopment visions in those cities' targeted TDI Districts like Tyler Street.

"This program is about building on the strengths of these neighborhoods and communities," said state Sen. Benjamin B. Downing, D-Pittsfield, the Senate chairman of the Massachusetts Gateway Cities Legislative Caucus. "I'm thrilled to see these new fellows come on board and an excited to see them add to the momentum in our Gateway Cities."

"By bringing her in what we're hoping to do is to get more of the community involved," said Diane Marcella, who heads the Tyler Street Business Group. "The Tyler Street Business Group is volunteers. Having someone working 40 hours plus will have a lot of extra time to do the things that we can't do."

The three new TDI fellows were chosen by the officials of each participating city following interviews held during a three-day "matching" session in Worcester, Abbruzzese said.

"I helped pick her out," Marcella said. "She was well organized, well prepared and very smart. She was very impressive."

Sedzro has more than a decade of experience supporting diverse initiatives around the world. She has helped develop web-based tools to help Massachusetts communities in their workforce and development planning, and collaborated on developing comprehensive land use and community development plans for municipalities in Essen, Germany and Brooklyn, N.Y.

She has also served as the project manager for a chain of clinics facilitating access to health care for low-income residents in Kenya; provided technical assistance to a bio-recycling firm in Guinea; and worked for a national network of business accelerators funded by the National Science Foundation.

Sedzro holds a bachelor's degree in political science from Hampshire College and a master's in urban planning from Columbia University.

Contact Tony Dobrowolski at 413-496-6224.


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