Finance Committee approves increase for MEDC budget

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Finance Committee approves increase for MEDC budget
The pop-up shops were organized by MEDC in conjunction with the 495/MetroWest Partnership. (Photo/Courtesy)

MARLBOROUGH – The City Council’s Finance Committee discussed two transfer requests for the Marlborough Economic Development Corp. – the operating budget and the toolbox fund – on April 17.

The funds for both programs come from the city’s economic development account.

Operating budget

For the 2025 fiscal year, the MEDC is requesting $762,465 to fund its programs and staffing – a nearly 10% increase over the 2024 fiscal year.

The MEDC is requesting an additional $20,000 for the pop-up shops, which were launched last year and feature 20 local vendors from May through December. The additional funds will go toward advertising and marketing; maintenance of the porta potties; WiFi; insurance; increased signage; beautification; and two promotional/community events.

The other part of the increase is a request to convert an administrative position from part time to full time.

“The need for the administrative role to go from part time to full time is to help with overseeing and managing use of the pop-ups, along with the more traditional administrative and clerical tasks such as scheduling, answering phones, general office management, supporting staff with projects as well as assisting with all marketing efforts,” according to a letter from Mayor J. Christian Dumais to the City Council. “We [the MEDC] have struggled with finding a suitable candidate for this role as part time, and believe shifting the position to a full-time role will help attract a quality candidate.”

Councilor Mark Oram had misgivings about the job position, although he supported the budget increase overall. He cited the upcoming budget review for fiscal 2025, which he said could become “very difficult.”

The other council members said they supported both increases.

“I’ve seen a lot of what MEDC brings,” said Councilor Teona Brown. “Your group brings so much to the city.”

Toolbox program

The MEDC offers an economic development toolbox, which offers financial incentive grants to new and existing small businesses in the city.

In 2023, the toolbox awarded six grants awarded to both new and existing businesses, totaling $89,200:

– $4,200 to An Nam Vietnamese Grill/Bao Bap

– $50,000 to Wemmy’s Kitchen & Lounge

– $10,000 to Collins Funeral Home

– $10,000 to the commercial property at 195-205 Main St.

– $10,000 to Kennedy’s Restaurant & Market

– $5,000 to Zarape Restaurant

In 2024, the toolbox awarded $80,385 to five new and existing small businesses:

– $12,000 to Marlboro Pharmacy and Wellness Center

– $25,000 to Word on the Street

– $25,000 to Spirit in Motion Dance Academy

– $10,000 to Tropical Café

– $8,385 to Halie Jean

These grants can be used toward rental assistance, equipment and more.

“You are here for small businesses, you are here for residents,” said Councilor Sean Navin.

The MEDC has also helped the city with preparing documents for the proposed MBTA multifamily zoning district and a proposed overlay district for Donald Lynch Boulevard.

The Finance Committee passed the budget 4-1, with Oram voting against; the increase to the toolbox budget was approved 5-0.

For information about the MEDC, visit https://marlboroughedc.com/.

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