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2024 Power 100: Mike Nicholson

a smiling man in a suit Photo | Courtesy of City of Gardner Michael Nicholson, mayor, City of Gardner
Mike Nicholson Title Mayor Organization City of Gardner Employees 1,100 (including seasonal) Residence Gardner Colleges University of Massachusetts Amherst, Suffolk University Read all the Power 100 profiles here
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Like many post-industrial Massachusetts cities, Gardner has struggled to find its way since industry peaked and manufacturing jobs went overseas in the early 1990s. Mike Nicholson, a Gardner native who is the city’s first Latino mayor, has met the problems of blight and economic depression head on.

Creating conditions for new housing and business development in the city of about 21,000 people has been the focus since his election in 2020 at the age of 25 to lead the municipal government with a $75-million budget. The small city has seen downtown growth in the last year, with 225 planned downtown housing units, the opening of nearly 27 new large retail and small businesses since 2023 and eight more in the works, and 24 downtown buildings under renovation. City policies allowing for more outdoor dining and assistance to small businesses have been key to this effort.

Gardner’s economic development projects in the last year include the $5-million renovation of the Gardner Municipal Airport, paid for by federal funds; Candor Realty of Lowell buying for $500,000 the historic Garbose Building, which it plans on redeveloping into 18 market-rate apartments; and Candor beginning to fill up the commercial space in the Bullnose Building, including Brilla Coffee's third location.

Once an aide to former Gardner Mayor Mark Hawke, Nicholson has spent his young career in public service, building ties as an intern for state lawmakers, including former Gov. Charlie Baker. Before becoming mayor, he was town administrator in Rutland. With a master’s degree in public policy and a law degree, which he earned while in office, Nicholson shares his perspective on the needs of Central Massachusetts as a board member for the Massachusetts Municipal Association, the Massachusetts Mayors’ Association, and the newly formed Governor's Transportation Funding Taskforce.

Read all the Power 100 profiles here.

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Kevin Mcrell
April 29, 2024


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