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Mon December 19, 2011
Congressional Aide Named City's Development Director
By Paul Tuthill
Springfield, MA – A long time aide to a Massachusetts Congressman has been picked to lead the city of Springfield's economic development efforts. The key appointment comes as the city prepares to rebuild from the June 1st tornadoes. WAMC's Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief Paul Tuthill reports.
Kevin Kennedy, a trusted aide to Massachusetts Congressman Richard Neal for more than 25 years has been appointed the city of Springfield's Chief Development Officer.
Kennedy assumes a powerful position in the city at a key time as it seeks to recover from the natural disaster, and years of job losses and housing forclosures. He will oversee departments that deal with housing, neighborhood development, building code enforcement and planning. And, he'll direct the staff at two independent public authorities responsible for financing development projects.
Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno appointed Kennedy to the post, which had been vacant since last May.
Congressman Neal, who is a former mayor of Springfield, described his long time aide as a no nonsense guy, who is both competent and loyal.
As Neal's top aide in his district office, Kennedy worked out the details for spending many of the federal earmarks Neal secured for projects, including the new 63 million dollar federal courthouse in Springfield. He was the point person in talks with the Patrick Administration that resulted in the state building a 100 million dollar data center next to the new court house.
Kennedy said his top priority is the city's recovery from last June's devastating natural disaster. A master tornado rebuilding plan is expected to be finished early next year.
Kennedy said he intended to focus on large scale projects, some of which have been in the pipeline for years, such as the redevelopment of Springfield's union station into a regional transit hub. But he said he would also promote smaller scale development opportunities.
Kennedy said he would approach a resort casino development in Springfield with caution. A Las Vegas company has proposed a casino on a former industrial site in east Springfield. Kennedy said while a casino there would create jobs, there would not be much spin off benefit for the rest of the city.
The appointment of Kennedy as Springfield's new Chief Development Officer was applauded by officiasl from several local and regional business development organizations who attended Monday's announcement at Springfield City Hall.