Economic Development & Planning Toolkit

Economic Development & Planning Toolkit

This webpage was designed as a one-stop-shop for local governments to find community and economic development resources, including: approved land-use related applications, bylaws, town meeting presentations, finance documents, successful grant applications, district applications approved, and a host of other documents.

Please note: some of these resources will require local governmental approval to implement.  The bylaws and grant applications are a framework or starting point for communities to draft the necessary laws.   Each community should involve their legal counsel when developing any final bylaws or ordinances.

This toolkit and webpage was funded by a Partnership Planning Assistance Program Grant from the Economic Development Administration, in conjunction with the creation of the Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) for the Merrimack Valley Region.

We welcome your feedback! Do you have a new bylaw, RFQ, or grant application that you would like to share with your peers? Or an idea for other resources that should be posted? We would love to hear from you!  Please email Angela Cleveland, AICP at:

Economic Development Incentives

The Commonwealth offers a wide variety of incentives to businesses and communities throughout the State, including: Tax Increment Financing, District Improvement Financing, Business Improvement Districts, Transformative Development Initiative and the I-Cubed program, Workfund Training Force Grants and MA Bio Technology Incentives.  Click on each link to see definitions of these districts, links to their respective regulations, and samples of executed agreements for these districts throughout the Commonwealth.

Downtown Planning

Many communities face the daunting task of trying to revitalize or plan their downtown.  Whether it be finding grants or technical assistance to either envision or implement the future of your downtown, or how to deal with real or perceived parking constraints, you will find links here to the several resources that will guide you through the process of planning for our town and city centers.

  • DHCD’s MA Downtown Initiative
  • Urban Land Institute-Boston: Downtown parking studies

Marketing Economic Development

Economic development comes in many forms.  Many communities utilize marketing/video brochures to promote their community.  There are also video brochures on clusters of technology that encompass a regional level, and/or individual communities’ brochures.  Yet other communities will put together guides for businesses and permitting to help developers wade through the permitting process for economic and residential development.  Below please find a sampling of these tools utilized throughout the commonwealth which we hope may aid you in developing these important economic development tools for your community.

Housing Incentives & Grants

The Commonwealth offers a variety of housing incentives, such as the Housing Development Incentive Program, Planning Assistance Towards Housing Grants, the Community Preservation Act and other housing tools.

Sample Bylaws & Ordinances

Here you will find a collection of land-use related bylaws and ordinances from around the Commonwealth on a variety of topics for you to peruse.


Request for Proposals, Request for Quotations and Invitation for Bids are three financial tools utilized to award supply and service contracts.  Click here to see a detailed description of each tool, as well as examples of these documents utilized by communities throughout the Commonwealth.

Grants and Sample Applications

There are a vast amount of types of grant applications the Commonwealth and/or local agencies offer to municipalities.   Here you will find a sampling of links to grant applications, as well as samples of successful grant applications previously approved.

Solar/Green Initiatives

There are a number of tools for promoting solar and green initiatives.  One tool is to update bylaws and ordinances for small, medium and large-scale solar photovoltaic systems, including ground-mounted and roof-mounted installations.  Communities can also apply to be part of the MA Department of Energy and Resources Green Communities Designation and Grant Program. Once designated as a Green Community, Communities will receive technical and financial resources to help them increase renewable energy installations, decrease energy consumption, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  On this page you will find sample bylaws and ordinances, as well as examples of how communities successfully addressed the 5 specific criterion required to be designated a Green Community.

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

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