Published in the December 10, 2020 edition.
By MARK SARDELLA
WAKEFIELD – From all indications, new Economic Development Director Erin Kokinda has hit the ground running. She appeared via Zoom at this week’s Town Council Meeting to talk about what she’s been up to during her brief time on the job.
She has been making an effort to get out and introduce herself to the local business community and has organized a virtual small business webinar on Thursday, Dec. 17 highlighting technical assistance programs and financial resources available for small businesses. The webinar will feature representatives from regional small business agencies including the Small Business Administration Massachusetts Office, the Massachusetts Small Business Development Center (NE Region), the Massachusetts Office of Business Development, SCORE, the Center for Women and Enterprise – Eastern Massachusetts and the Wakefield Lynnfield Chamber of Commerce.
Information on joining the webinar can be found on the town’s website at wakefield.ma.us/.
Since being hired in October, Kokinda has also been busy getting to know the community and reaching out to various agencies, she told the board.
She has contacted the Metropolitan Area Planning Council, the North Suburban Planning Council and the Boston Region Metropolitan Planning Organization. She has been in touch with area economic development agencies like MassDevelopment, the U.S. Small Business Administration, the Massachusetts Small Business Development Center and MassHire.
Kokinda has also been in contact with local business groups like the Wakefield-Lynnfield Chamber of Commerce and Wakefield Main Streets.
She has made the rounds at Town Hall, introducing herself to various town departments like the Engineering Department, the DPW, the Planning Board, the Town Clerk, the Building Department, the Assessors and the Health Department.
She is working with Town Engineer Bill Renault on the “Shared Streets and Spaces” grant program, which provides grants for improving sidewalks, plazas, curbs, streets, parking areas and other shared public spaces.
Kokinda said that she anticipates working closely with the town’s Communications Director Jennifer McDonald when it comes to marketing the town as a place to live, work and play.
Kokinda said that she will be applying to the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development regarding their Local Rapid Recovery Planning Program, which aims to help municipalities develop rapid recovery plans tailored to their unique economic challenges and COVID-19 impacts.
Moving forward, Kokinda said that she views her role as supporting planning, development and zoning initiatives. Part of that involves updating the town’s Master Plan, which has not been updated for some time.
In addition, she expects to be involved with the Envision Wakefield downtown revitalization plan. She will also have a role in the creation and direction of an Economic Development Council.
A major part of her focus, she said, will be on attracting and retaining businesses, large and small. Beyond that, Kokinda told the Town Council that she will “continue to strengthen my relationships with businesses, real estate professionals, and community partners.”