The Board of Selectmen spent a significant portion of their February 21 meeting discussing economic development in Reading. A lengthy presentation by Jessie Wilson, Economic Development Liaison, gave preliminary results of a survey she conducted of twenty-seven peer communities about their practices regarding economic development in their locales. There were eighteen responses to the nine question survey and fifteen personal interviews were also conducted. Activities like zoning, permitting practices, marketing, and tracking of results, were discussed and analyzed. The preliminary results of the survey generated discussion in the board about how Reading can make itself attractive to potential businesses and what steps may need to be taken in the future to help spur increased economic growth in town. A final report on the survey should be done by the end of March.
The second part of the discussion was a presentation and discussion led by Reading’s new Economic Development Coordinator, Andrew Corona. Corona asked the board what they believe the goals of economic development should be for Reading. Discussion included the role of real estate development in the area and marketing to attract businesses. Potential projects talked about including the Post Office site on Haven Street, possible redevelopment of the DPW garage and surrounding parcels, and sites on south Main Street. Several members of the board mentioned that the ultimate goal is to increase the percentage of revenue coming from commercial and industrial concerns in town as opposed to revenue from residential land. Discussions about economic development in town will be ongoing at future meetings of the board.