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PowerPlayer: The Canal District’s John Giangregorio

Monday, February 11, 2013


GoLocalWorcester shines the spotlight on one individual who you may not know that is making an impact on Worcester and the Central Mass region. This week, we sat down with John Giangregorio, President of the Canal District Business Association.

A Worcester native and graduate of North High and Worcester State, Giangregorio is a founding member both the Canal District Alliance, Inc. and the Canal District Business Association.

Giangregorio sits on the boards of Preservation Worcester and the Worcester Convention and Visitor Bureau, and also serves on the steering committee of Citizens for Business and as representative for the Canal District on the Mayor's Small Business Roundtable. He is a lifetime member of the Massachusetts Democratic Party.

From your involvement with Canal District Business Association, what are three things you've learned about Worcester and its residents that most people don't know?

1. The tremendous pride business and residence have for their city.
2. The appetite for knowledge of Worcester's history in industry, invention, and ideas and the impact Worcester's had on our nations history and economic growth.
3. The sense that we can do better.

How has the Canal District changed in recent years? How do you see it growing or changing over the next several years?

First of all, that we are the Canal District. The branding was the first accomplishment. Talking about the Canal re-creation project has been the greatest economic stimulis strategy for the area, that something was underway, happening, new ideas and a new vision was being talked about.

We continue to sow the seeds for economic development around the Canal idea and the city's history. Working with Congressman McGovern to bring in $8.25 million for new streetscape improvements, which continues to leverage addition streetscape improvement money from the City of Worcester. McGovern's successful effort to gain funding for the Blackstone Valley Bikeway, the soon to be built McKeon Road Visitor Center, and passage of a new Blackstone Valley National Park. These efforts should put Worcester in a strong position to expand into Massachusets 3rd largest industry - Tourism and Visitor services.

Working with the City to focus on the city's next logical growth area from the downtown. The Canal District is the gateway into downtown and needs enhancements to project a favorable first impression. Kelley Square need streetscape improvements, signage, and welcoming beautification improvements. Same for the Rt146/Millbury/Quinsigamond Streets entry points.

We anticipate the opening of the new WRTA Central Stop and administration building on Foster streets, the beginning of expanded commuter rail services at Union Station, and the new development along the Quinsigamond Street corridor with a new WRTA Maintenance Facility and MDOT District 3 Center relocation.

There are approximately 50 acres of privately owned vacant space and 20 empty storefronts available but quickly attracting attention.

Take us through a day in your life.

Rise between 6 and 7 a.m., coffee and read a couple of papers, work on computer 1-2 hours on community projects, 10-12 hour days on private work, community meetings, and hearings.

What are the challenges?

Restoring faith that organizations can influence change and individuals make a difference.

Tell us something nobody knows about you.

That I am determined that every Worcester school child, resident, and visitor knows our considerable history and effect on the American culture. That the resolve of Worcester colonialists persuaded the British Army to march on Lexington and Concord.

Quick Hitters

Best Place for People Watching: Children, adults, and our presenters on our Historic Wagon Tours. City children on Kayak Rides during CanalFest. The public at large during Santa Claus Pub Crawl, 130 Santas and helpers raising money for Christmas Gifts for kids. Carneval de Canal, our Mardi Gras revelers having fun.

Biggest Source of Pride: The Canal District folks. Giving their precious time, generous donations often without being asked, volunteering, and creating and developing ideas.

Best Book You've Read in the Last Year: "The Irish Pioneer" by my friend Tom Rooney about the canal diggers and their influence on Worcester's History. 


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