In Hudson, Patrick applauds downtown growth
Jeff Malachowski // September 26, 2014
HUDSON – Standing on a block of Main Street once filled with dark and dormant storefronts Thursday, Gov. Deval Patrick marveled at the economic growth and vibrancy of downtown Hudson.
Patrick toured Main Street’s popular Rail Trail Flatbread Co. restaurant - trying his hand at the oven in the process - and got a sneak peak at the construction site of the New City Microcreamery dessert bar across the street, which are both owned by Karim El-Gamal and Michael Kasseris, while campaigning with Democratic lieutenant governor candidate Steve Kerrigan.
"Small businesses represent most of the business in the commonwealth," said Patrick. "Small businesses are really the backbone of our economy."
The governor was impressed by the influx of new and soon-to-open businesses on Main Street, including the two eateries, and said supporting small businesses is key to the continued economic improvement and revitalization of struggling downtowns across the state.
"It’s happening here in Hudson," he said.
A study by the Hudson Business Association in 2010 found nearly a third of downtown business properties in town were vacant. Only six first-floor storefronts are unoccupied today, according to the Community Development office.
While Patrick said some towns, such as Hudson, have recently "surged" out of the recession, others are struggling.
With several Main Street storefronts empty just a few months and years ago, Kerrigan, whose grandmother grew up in Hudson and whose mother was born in town, admired Hudson's bounce back from the economic downturn.
"It’s great to see the revitalization," Kerrigan said of downtown. "It’s about their new hometown and investing in it."
Kerrigan, who is running with gubernatorial candidate Martha Coakley, lauded El-Gamal and Kasseris for creating more than 60 jobs for residents at Rail Trail Flatbread and said he is excited to see the job creation at the nearby New City Microcreamery when it opens.
"Small businesses do employ most employees in the commonwealth," he said.
Downtown Hudson’s transformation has invigorated the community and many shops and restaurants are often brimming with shoppers and hungry patrons throughout the weekend, said state Rep. Kate Hogan, D-Stow.
"I think the role of small business is going to be critical in bringing our towns back from the recession," she said. "It’s going to be a way to increase revenue and give our downtowns a vibrancy that we see here (Thursday). It's an exciting time for Hudson."
Before leaving, Patrick and Kerrigan donned aprons and learned how to roll dough and cook flatbread in the restaurant’s wood-fired brick oven. The pair also sampled a variety of flatbreads.
"It smells good," said Patrick, who is wrapping up his second and final term as governor.
Kasseris called Patrick’s visit to his restaurant and construction site an honor.
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