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FRAMINGHAM – On Tuesday. September 6 voters will decide between three Democrats to be the 6th Middlesex District’s state representative.

Voters in newly-created City of Framingham Precincts 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-10-11-12-13-14-15-16, and part of precinct 9 are part of the new 6th Middlesex District.

There are three candidates — former mayoral candidate Dhruba Sen, former District 7 City Councilor Margareth Shepard, and School Committee Chair Priscila Sousa.

SOURCE asked all three a series of questions last week. One of the questions focused on economic development & small businesses trying to survive coming out of the pandemic. Each candidate was allowed up to 500 words to discuss the issue.

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QUESTION: Coming out of the pandemic many small businesses are still struggling to survive. In the City of Framingham there are empty storefronts and empty plazas. Downtown, with many immigrant businesses, has the fewest empty storefronts, but along Route 9 there are several empty storefronts and many empty office buildings. As a state representative, what can you do to help the City achieve economic growth and help businesses thrive? 

SHEPHARD: The business shift from in-person to online started long before the pandemic that only accelerated an inevitable process. Remote work optimizes time, cuts down business expenses, contributes to the environment, and becomes a permanent business feature. Entertainment businesses are on the way to fully recovering, the food industry mostly remains the same, and I would work on the government providing fiscal incentives to support them and attract new business that would improve Route 9’s current situation. 

Downtown and other small businesses around the city were severely impacted during the pandemic and most of them could not qualify for government assistance.

As State Rep. I would work on programs to provide grants for local organizations, such as Downtown Framingham Inc., and partnerships with the two local universities to promote business professionalization, and I would support bill S.665/H.1223 to create a public bank for Massachusetts. 

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SOUSA: As a small business owner who once operated a store in Downtown Framingham, I understand
first hand the struggles of our small businesses.

Recovery from the pandemic requires all of us, the legislative delegation, city leaders and the business community to work together and focus on how we attract businesses to start and grow in Framingham, provide jobs for our residents and resources for our city services. Framingham is the heart of MetroWest, and conveniently located along the Mass Pike, Route 9 and Route 495. We can grow our biotech and pharmaceutical company portfolio, be home to a vibrant creative economy and start-ups.

As our full-time representative, I will bring my entrepreneurial skills and knowledge of Framingham to obtain the state support that Framingham needs:

* Identify grants, investments and programs that will grow our economic base and help tell
the Framingham story to potential businesses, encouraging them to come to our

* Work with the city government and all interested parties in an open collaborative process
to develop plans that reflect our values and meet our needs.

Working with local business owners, I will work to address their concerns and to make changes on a state level that encourage businesses to flourish here and throughout the Commonwealth.

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SEN: Work with the Small Business Association to bring the small business owners to a table  to work out a plan of action.  Bring to the table the incentives available to small business owners – including those for green technology.  Budget is a Value Statement – so I will work with other legislators to bring necessary funding to the city in this regard. I will also work to ease the traffic congestion in the city – which appears to be a paint point in business growth. 

I will support H5034, 5007, 4864, 4720, 4977.

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By editor

Susan Petroni is the former editor for SOURCE. She is the founder of the former news site, which as of May 1, 2023, is now a self-publishing community bulletin board. The website no longer has a journalist but a webmaster.