City Council President Tim Phelan, a candidate for mayor in the Nov. 5 city election, has announced a six-point economic plan, “The InvestLynn Project.”
Phelan unveiled the plan during a presentation to the Lynn Area Chamber of Commerce Government Affairs Committee last Tuesday. He further elaborated on the plan in an interview this week with the Lynn Journal.
Phelan said the plan touches on all aspects of business in the city.
“The overall budget for the City of Lynn is $266 million,” said Phelan. “We take that money and just put in the bank. I’m saying we make that a competitive process. Whoever wants to hold our money, they should have to bid on doing that and the conditions of the bid would be that we get a better rate on our return – but more importantly, they give lower commercial lending rates to businesses that want to locate, build, or relocate in the City of Lynn.”
Phelan said the single, biggest impediment to starting up a business is “access to capital.”
“This is a real way to attract businesses in Lynn – make our money work for us,” said Phelan. “And if somebody, such as a bank, make money on our money, then they need to give something in return. They have to invest in Lynn. It’s really a public/private partnership that promotes business growth and greater access to bank loans.”
The second part of the plan involves creating a City of Lynn small business assistance center.
“The center would provide one-on-one case management,” said Phelan. “People would be able to go to one spot to navigate City Hall. It would put all permits and licenses online. We could have a virtual job resource center. Business that are looking to hire people could post the available jobs and people that are looking for jobs could go to the City of Lynn Web site and go to the job resource center and try to connect them together.”
Phelan said the center could expand local businesses, help manage businesses, provide counseling, furnish information on zoning requirements, and teach business owners how to bid on government contracts.
“There are so many different things that we could do,” he said. “We could cluster similar industries together that are in need of similar services and negotiate for lower prices. But the center would focus on business expansion and the generating of new business.”
Phelan said part three of the plan is the expansion of Tax Incremental Financing (TIF) agreements.
“We’ve done limited Tax Incremental Financing in the past,” said Phelan. “So if you’re going to put in to the business, we’ll give you a tax break. I say we expand that so if you locate in Lynn and put money into your business, you get a tax break – but if you actually hire qualified Lynn residents and you keep them employed for a period of time, we’ll give you an additional tax break.
“What this will do is if a business locates in the City of Lynn with The InvestLynn Project, and then when they’re looking to hire people – if it’s a qualified person from Lynn or Marblehead, we’ll give the business a tax break if they hire a person from Lynn.”
Phelan said part four is the relocation of the My Brother’s Table/The Shelter to an area outside of downtown.
“It is a needed service in Lynn [but] we need to find a better location than downtown,” said Phelan. “Faneuil Hall/Quincy Market does not have the Pine Street Inn at that location so we have to work with management at My Brother’s Table to identify a better location because it generates a negative perception of downtown Lynn. Elected officials are afraid to talk about it or deal with it, but this will be one of my priorities in my administration: to move it out of downtown and find a better location.”
Phelan said the fifth element in his plan involves the selling of vast parcels land that Lynn owns in the Town of Lynnfield.
“The city owns land on Route 1 [North] in the Town of Lynnfield,” said Phelan. “It surrounds the Fat Cactus Restaurant that used to be the Naked Fish. There are up to 75 acres and Lynn owns it. The back portion is conservation land and wetlands but I’m not referring to that land. On Route 1 it not Lynn Woods land and I would not sell Lynn Woods land. What I’m saying is that there are 16-20 acres that are separated behind by a power line easement that are marketable pieces of property – the value of which is $750,000 to $1 million per acre. My proposal is to sell or lease those properties and set up a revolving account solely dedicated to address our crumbling schools.”
Phelan points to the new Market Street in Lynnfield development as a possibility for the Route 1 land owned by Lynn.
The final point in Phelan’s plan is the creation of a Suffolk Downs blue ribbon collaboration committee.
“This would be formal committee set up by the city,” said Phelan. “We, the City of Lynn, are currently not at the table for the Suffolk Downs hotel/casino project. We have to formally get to the table and position ourselves beforehand and not after the casino license is granted to Suffolk Downs because there are millions of dollars of goods and services that are going t be needed, along with a lot of construction jobs and hospitality jobs.
“And then there is the effect of the hotel/casino project on the development of the Lynnway in Lynn – how can we best leverage a potential casino at Suffolk Downs to enhance development and partner with Suffolk on the Lynnway? Right now we’re not even at the table. Thse discussions should happen beforehand, as opposed to after.”