Business View Magazine | June 2019

371 BUSINESS VIEW MAGAZINE JUNE 2019 In a recent interview with Business View Magazine, Easthampton Mayor, Nicole LaChapelle, shared her insights into this delightful city’s background, the many progressive initiatives currently in the works, and the very bright – and “green”– future outlook. The following is an edited transcript of that conversation. BVM: Can you describe Easthampton from an economic development standpoint? LaChapelle: “Easthampton is a former mill town with a firm agricultural base and industry. When the mills started to close down in the 1940s and transition out into the ‘70s and ‘80s, what popped up in its absence was a small precision machine and tool and die shop industry that has spurred and anchored manufacturing in Easthampton and, as a result, has attracted artisans and middle- class workers. For decades, artists were renting the old mill spaces for studios and are home to numerous far-reaching businesses. What once was an internal art scene has grown organically to now be an outward facing element of our success. There is a lot of pride and innovation, here, and our history as a mill town really informs our innovative, broad approach to community and commerce. In 2013, we were one of the first Cultural Districts in the State to see the creative economy as a joint endeavor between artists, makers and small businesses; where art is not just a passive presence in the community, but really sparks economic drivers and jobs in the arts and related industries. “From that 2013 cultural district initiative, lots of private and public money went into our existing mill buildings, two in particular, to create maker spaces – artisan spaces, bookbinding, woodworking, on a very high level. From there, we got very calculating as a city, as to where the local economy could go with those bases, as well as preserving our natural resources. As I took office, I looked at federal and state economic development tools and incentives and instantly targeted our mill district. We have one very complex mill property left – we started with that, obtaining opportunities and designation and doing a vertical EASTHAMPTON, MASSACHUSETTS