PAWTUCKET — With a theme of economic optimism for the year ahead, The Pawtucket Foundation hosted over 100 business and elected leaders at its 12th Annual Meeting at the Blackstone Valley Visitor Center Tuesday evening.
Additionally, the Foundation announced that its new executive director would be Aaron M. Hertzberg, who has served in the position for the past three months in an interim capacity. Hired in 2008, Hertzberg previously worked as the organization's program director. He succeeds Thomas Mann, who resigned to take a new job opportunity.
Pawtucket Foundation Co-Chairmen Daniel J. Sullivan and Kevin P. Tracy welcomed the crowd, which included J.R. Pagliarini, chief of staff at the Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation, representing Governor Lincoln Chafee; and Pawtucket Mayor Donald Grebien. Pagliarini expressed strong support from his office for local economic development activities, and Grebien thanked the Foundation for its continued partnership and
spoke about several ongoing revitalization efforts shaping the city.
Tracy said the Foundation chose Hertzberg as its new executive director after conducting a “productive search” which covered several states. He said it was “clear that Aaron distinguished himself as the most qualified candidate due to his passion and understanding of the new journey we are about to take with the city of Pawtucket.”
In his address to the attendees, Hertzberg thanked Mann for his “mentorship and leadership” during his time with the organization and said he will continue to implement the Foundation's “enVision Pawtucket” Strategic Plan that the former executive director helped to formulate.
Hertzberg noted that the plan called for $320,000 in programming investments over three years. He said that with the plan at its midway point, the organization has already exceeded that commitment and “continues to seek opportunities to catalyze investments in the community.”
Hertzberg reviewed The Pawtucket Foundation's accomplishments during 2012, which included spearheading a comprehensive Riverfront Corridor Initiative to stimulate revitalization and economic activity along the Pawtucket/Central Falls riverfront; and leading a $50,000 streetscape improvement project for Main Street that included new banners, bicycle racks, trash cans and decorative planters.
Additionally, Hertzberg noted that the Foundation had partnered with Pawtucket-based Embolden to design a new “Experience Pawtucket” website that promotes the city as a place to live, work and visit, and hosted several events, including drawing over 400 guests to its Annual Awards Celebration.
Hertzberg said that among the Foundation's projects slated for 2013 is an initiative working with the city of Pawtucket to review existing economic development partnerships and outline ways to best utilize available resources. He also spoke of a partnership with the city to elevate the status of local culinary initiatives and working to identify opportunities to leverage existing culinary assets to help attract additional investment.
At the meeting, Pawtucket Foundation Co-Chairman Daniel Sullivan also announced the honorees for the Pawtucket Foundation's 10th Annual Awards Celebration to be held on April 9.
The Person of the Year Award, recognizing a business professional who has significantly contributed to the community through their generosity, leadership, service and participation with various charities and institutions will go to William J. Hunt, president of Shove Insurance.
The Heritage Award, recognizing outstanding long-term commitment to the city of Pawtucket and its residents, will be presented to Stewart “Nick” H. Steffey, Jr.; and the Special Distinction Award, signifying an important accomplishment in a particular field of the community will go to Gretchen Dow Simpson for her contributions in the visual arts.