UMass Lowell to Co-Sponsor Innovative Cities Conference

04/26/2010
By For more information, contact media@uml.edu or 978-934-3224

U.S. Rep. Niki Tsongas Chairs Planning Committee

LOWELL, Mass. ߝ On June 17, 18, and 19, the city of Lowell will host a unique conference showcasing successful development strategies in exemplary small- to mid-sized cities from across the country with special guest Adolfo Carrión, Jr., director of the White House Office of Urban Affairs. 

Urban policy-makers, city administrators and planners, business leaders, urban affairs scholars and specialists, teachers and students, artists and environmental activists, and interested citizens will gather at the UMass Lowell Inn & Conference Center for in-depth presentations and workshops on strategies to strengthen the health of our nation’s cities.

In addition to the city of Lowell, featured cities include Ann Arbor, Mich.; Asheville, N.C.; Belfast, Northern Ireland; Milwaukee, Wisc.; and Portland, Ore.  Each of these communities has been recognized for successful urban strategies and can serve as models for cities across the nation. 

On Saturday, June 19, U.S. Rep. Niki Tsongas and the Northeast-Midwest Congressional Coalition will host a field hearing to examine possible legislative ideas that are generated during the conference. Tsongas is honorary chairwoman of the planning committee.

“The city of Lowell has demonstrated that when ideas are initiated at the local level and cultivated by an active public/private partnership, a mid-sized city can generate wealth and economic development for an entire region; provide the foundation for an educated workforce; offer solutions to sustainable development; act as a gateways for good, knowledge, and newcomers to our country; and protect cultural riches,” said Tsongas. “I look forward to the opportunity to explore how stakeholders can collaborate to promote the economic, physical, and social health of our cities and towns at the Innovative Cities: Best Practices in Urban Development Conference.”

“Urban communities across the nation and around the world are facing some of their greatest challenges as the economy and society transform at a rapid pace,” said UMass Lowell Chancellor Marty Meehan. “The health and productivity of our cities are critical to America’s success. UMass Lowell is pleased to be a co-presenter of this conference in Lowell, which itself is a model of transformation.”

“At Middlesex Community College, we pride ourselves on innovation and are proud to be partners with a community on the forefront of urban innovation,” said Middlesex Community College President Carole Cowan. “Our Lowell community is a vibrant place to work, live and do business, and we have been proud to be a partner in the progress and successes that Lowell has experienced for decades. I am very hopeful that this Innovative Cities conference will provide all of us with new and exciting opportunities to progressively move Lowell's evolution forward.”

“National parks are powerful places to learn about the social and environmental challenges our country faces today,” said Lowell National Historical Park Superintendent Michael Creasey. “In 1978, the historic downtown of Lowell, Massachusetts, once America’s first planned textile mill city in the early 19th century, became a national park unlike no other. The park is the city and the city is the park, whereby Lowell’s blended strategy of preservation and regeneration has created a new dynamic that has served as a catalyst in revitalizing the city’s physical, economic and cultural environments.”

Adolfo Carrión Jr., director of the White House Office of Urban Affairs will give a special keynote address on the evening of Thursday, June 17. Carrión is the first director of the White House Office of Urban Affairs and Deputy Assistant to the President. He is charged with coordinating the policies of 10 cabinet agencies into an effective agenda for urban America. The White House Office on Urban Affairs is committed to finding innovative solutions to confront the issues facing our cities, as well as developing best practices that make our urban areas more economically competitive and environmentally sustainable, while simultaneously expanding opportunities for the people living there.

Topics to be addressed at the conference will include job creation, economic development, housing, education, sustainability, transportation, infrastructure, the creative sector, and quality of life concerns. The conference will provide a forum for dialogue on these matters and offer a chance to generate concrete policy proposals. Attendees will have an opportunity to help shape an effective strategy for urban America.

On Saturday, June 19, the Northeast-Midwest Congressional Coalition and the Northeast-Midwest Institute in cooperation with Tsongas will convene a forum open to the public to discuss the needs, opportunities, and challenges in mid-sized cities, many of them older urban centers dealing with post-industrial issues and the transition to 21st-century communities.

The conference is being presented as a partnership among Lowell National Historical Park, the Lowell Plan Inc., Middlesex Community College and UMass Lowell. 

Visit www.innovativecitiesconference.com for schedule details, background on speakers, and registration information. UMass Lowell’s division of Continuing Studies & Corporate Education is the conference manager.

UMass Lowell, with a national reputation in science, engineering and technology, is committed to educating students for lifelong success in a diverse world and conducting research and outreach activities that sustain the economic, environmental and social health of the region. The University offers its 13,000 students more than 120 degree choices, internships, co-ops, five-year combined bachelor’s to master’s programs and doctoral studies in the colleges of Arts and Sciences, Engineering and Management, the School of Health and Environment, and the Graduate School of Education. www.uml.edu.