December 7, 2015
Power Players: Politicos

Mazzarella pushes can-do attitude in Leominster

In November, Dean J. Mazzarella was elected to his 12th two-year term as Leominster mayor, extending his lead as longest serving mayor in the city's 375-year history. This January, when Medford Mayor Michael J. McGlynn retires, Mazzarella officially will be the longest currently serving mayor in Massachusetts.

"He has a reputation for being a can-do person," said Roy Nascimento, president and CEO of the North Central Massachusetts Chamber of Commerce. "All of Leominster really has taken on that can-do attitude. The mayor has a lot of energy, and he just gets it done."

As the head of a city with 41,000 residents, Mazzarella has taken it upon himself to make his community and the region one of the most business savvy in the entire state.

The length of his tenure gives him clout with state officials to provide public funds and attention to the easily overlooked areas outside of Greater Boston. Last year, he nearly succeeded in his campaign to land one of four Massachusetts gaming licenses for the city, narrowly losing a 3-2 vote from the state gaming commission to put a slots parlor in Leominster instead of Plainville.

Mazzarella was a small business owner and a police officer with a lot of solutions for Leominster's problems when he was first elected to office in 1993. One of his first official acts was to hire two economic development directors for the city to serve as ambassadors and customer service agents to businesses needing help or looking to expand and relocate in the city.

Leominster can provide its own tax-increment financing work to potential new developments and will do initial reviews of development proposals before the lengthy permitting process, so businesses and entrepreneurs don't run into any surprises at the very end.

"We want to have a general attitude where we want to be friendly to businesses," Mazzarella said. "We pay extra attention to their needs."

Mazzarella works to keep the cost of doing business low -- particularly water, sewer, electricity and permitting -- and the city's single tax rate of $19.44 per $1,000 valuation is just above the Central Massachusetts average of $19.33. Since the city has a strong handle on its pension obligations -- unlike other Central Massachusetts communities -- its tax rate should remain stable for the immediate future, Nascimento said.

Outside of his typical duties, Mazzarella works to connect businesses with the clients and service providers they need, advocates for more companies to come to Leominster and sits on the Massachusetts Department of Transportation board, which is vital for the city since nearly 500 tractor-trailers come in and out of it every day.

"There are many things you can use the mayor's position for that aren't exactly listed in the charter," Mazzarella said.

The work pays off for the city, Nascimento said. Leominster has a vibrant plastics manufacturing industry, saw the construction of the AIS, Inc. furniture manufacturing facility last year, and had the opening of the 188-room DoubleTree hotel in 2013.

"Mazzarella has really paid dividends for Leominster. There has been a lot of business growth in the community," Nascimento said.

Read about other Central Massachusetts Power Players

Change Agents: Executives bringing their organizations to new heights

Visionaries: Forward thinkers pushing to realize the promises of the future

Politicos: Public officials leveraging their positions to further business development

Fresh Faces: Newcomers to Central Massachusetts with refreshing perspectives and ideas

Inner Circle: Long-time players who continue to have a significant role in new developments

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