Economic Development & Planning

Business Incentives and Districts

Community-Wide Assistance Programs Support Our Region

In and around the Merrimack Valley, numerous business incentives exist through state and federal programs that assist and facilitate economic aid for many of our communities and towns.

Community Renewal Initiative

Through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, a substantial part of the City of Lawrence has been designated a Urban Renewal Community—one of only 40 in the nation—which qualifies the area for significant economic aid in the form of wage credits, tax deductions, capital gains exclusions and bond financing to stimulate economic development and job growth. Introduced in 1993, the Renewal Community (RC) Initiative sought to reduce unemployment and generate economic growth through the designation of Federal tax incentives and award of grants to distressed communities.

Economic Target Areas (ETAs)

The communities of Amesbury, Andover, Georgetown, Haverhill, Lawrence, Merrimac, Methuen, Newburyport, North Andover, and Salisbury are designated Economic Target Areas (ETAs) by the Massachusetts Office of Business Development (MOBD), the state’s primary economic development and business assistance agency. This designation qualifies the communities for special economic incentive programs. Within MOBD is the Massachusetts Business Resource Team (BRT), a single point of contact for businesses looking for information on available state aid. The BRT helps match your business needs with the available state resources.

Economic Development Areas (EDAs)

Closely aligned with ETAs are Economic Development Areas (EDAs). An EDA designation qualifies a community for possible Brownfields Redevelopment assistance. The communities of Amesbury, Andover, Haverhill, Lawrence, Merrimac, Methuen (portions of), Newburyport, North Andover (portions of), and Salisbury are designated EDAs. For more information about Brownfields Redevelopment assistance from the state, please visit the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection.

Historically Underutilized Business Zone (HUBZone)

Through the U.S. Small Business Administration, the Historically Underutilized Business Zone (HUBZone) program offers federal contracting assistance to qualified small businesses. Assistance is offered to small businesses that obtain HUBZone certification in part by employing staff who live in a HUBZone. The company must also maintain a principal office in one of these specifically designated areas:

Priority Development Sites (PDS)

A PDS is a privately or publicly owned property that is:

  • Commercially or industrially zoned for mixed use
  • Eligible under applicable zoning provisions, including special permits or other discretionary permits, for the development or redevelopment of a building at least 50,000 square-feet of gross floor area in new or existing buildings or structures
  • Sites must be approved by the local governing authority and state Interagency Permitting Board
  • Once established, the community must render permitting decisions within 180 days. Several parcels or projects may be included within a single priority development site. For more information, please visit the Massachusetts Permit Regulatory Office.

Growth Districts Initiative

Haverhill and Lawrence are designated Growth District Communities through the Massachusetts Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development (EOHED). Under its Growth Districts Initiative, EOHED partners with municipalities “that have identified one or more areas within their communities as being appropriate locations for significant new growth, whether commercial, residential, or mixed-use.” Within those identified growth districts, EOHED works with the community and property owners to make the district truly development ready with respect to local permitting, state permitting, site preparation (including Brownfields remediation), infrastructure improvements, and marketing.



When it comes to economic development, we plan locally, promote regionally, and develop economically. Whether gathering critical business data or creating the region’s only Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy, we ensure the region is prepared for smart growth.

  • Merrimack Valley Planning Commission
    160 Main Street
    Haverhill, MA 01830
    p: 978.374.0519
    f: 978.372.4890

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