Nearly 30 years ago, I was born at Harrington Memorial Hospital right here in town, and have called Southbridge home ever since. I graduated Southbridge High School at one of the arguably worst times to graduate Southbridge High School in the top 10% of my class. My daughter is currently at West St school, and I see her graduating from Southbridge High School as well.
I have for years listened to other residents speak of a hustling and bustling Main St, where Southbridge was the place to go on a Thursday night. I have listened to stories of the American Optical glory days, the trollies in town, cinemas, The Rez, the great Sesquicentennial celebration of 1966 and so much more in our rich history.
I have on the other hand personally witnessed property values plummet, industry leave, a regional landfill take complete fiscal control of this town, and a quality of life decline that is unprecedented in the local region.
Southbridge, MA Home Values
To be clear, this is not a piece of negativity. It is about time that someone outline the problems areas of this town and works to find solutions. Local office is no place for blinders and unwavering positivity. Local office is a place to begin fixing what so many see as wrong.
My platform is to bring business back to Southbridge through a series of short, medium and long term goals. The biggest area of opportunity is to focus on grooming the incoming Economic Development position to do more for local business than hand out checks for signs and awnings or write grants for affordable housing. All of these things are necessary, but the Town of Southbridge is not realizing the full potential of this important position.
The Economic Development commission has some very talented people with very big picture ideas, and those ideas are currently falling on deaf ears. That needs to change.
Goals in the short-term primarily focus on bringing business back to Main St. Foster a business friendly climate and never EVER spend another dime of tax payer money on legal costs associated with stonewalling viable, positive and legal business ventures. Gain a positive small business reputation, add more "destination spots," and continue the ongoing volunteer efforts of the Downtown Partnership and you'll have a walking Main St in the next 5 years.
There is no reason we can't add Southbridge to the Sturbridge/Northampton/Putnam tourism and destination circuit.
The medium and long term goals focus on personnel training, and making an idea such as "the industrial park" something closer to a realistic venture.
There is no direct need for an industrial park at the current time. The surrounding areas are full of empty industrial space and Southbridge does not boast the most ideal infrastructure, employee base or any of the other factors a company may look at to relocate.
We have the highest unemployment rate in the area. High unemployment doesn't immediately translate into a skilled work force. There are some training programs already in place in the local area and there are grants available for even more. We can easily get behind that and raise the skill and level of education of the people in town.
Once small business is seen as thriving, we have business looking to relocate, Main St is bustling, and this town boosts its reputation in the local region, people WILL want to call Southbridge home. Your property values WILL go back up and in time the tax rate will begin to fall.
I'll leave this with a little about myself. My background is in Insurance and Restaurant Management with a focus on profit & loss and managing cost centers. I currently sit as Treasurer for the Quinebaug Valley Council for the Arts and Humanities and am a member of the Central Mass South Chamber of Commerce. I also have been a citizen member on the Education & Human Services subcommittee for the past year, and the Master Plan Implementation Subcommittee (although despite several inquiries, we have never actually met for a meeting).
In the past, I've sat as the Event Coordinator for the Central Mass South Chamber of Commerce Community Business Associates group, Education Coordinator for the Leicester chapter of Business Networking International, and a founding member of the Young Professional Network in the Worcester Regional Association of Realtors.
I am a hard working woman and have been ever since my first paper route as a 12 year old girl, struggling my way up Hartwell Street in all 4 seasons. I am excited for the opportunity to run for Town Council and humbly ask for the chance to be a part of the movement that galvanizes Southbridge into realizing our true potential. Please, on June 30th vote for Kristen Auclair for Town Council.