Franklin, NH

April 9-11, 2015
Local Coordinating Organization: University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension
Pop 8,428

Workshop Challenge: Franklin is defined by a strong cultural and historic identity in its industrial manufacturing past and also has an active arts community. The workshop focused on creating a healthy and vibrant community and a reinvigorated downtown for all ages to enjoy. To do this, Franklin focused on the development of affordable and accessible housing for all ages, building quality public spaces, cleaning up the riverfront, coordinating downtown improvement, and encouraging new, diverse businesses to open. Franklin wanted to ensure the availability of affordable housing options for seniors so that they could comfortably age in place and preserve Franklin’s cultural heritage.

Workshop Outcome: Over the course of the workshop, attendees discovered that broader quality of life concerns lack generational divides. Franklin workshop attendees defined livability for their community as the need for smaller and more efficient homes that are affordable and accessible to downtown without an automobile. Furthermore, attendees agreed that developing affordable and desirable housing was key to retaining young and elderly population and for stimulating economic growth in Franklin.

Post-Workshop Accomplishments: The successful workshop catalyzed a variety of projects and funding that are contributing to the redevelopment of Downtown Franklin. Since the conclusion of the workshop more than $82,000 of grants and resources have been leveraged by the community, including $50,000 from USDA Rural Development’s Rural Business Development Grant (RBDG) Program. Three new businesses have been created, two existing businesses have expanded into larger spaces and a vacant lot in downtown has been transformed into an art park featuring metal sculptures by local artists. The grant is also funding work by a local developer and economic development expert to redevelop several former industrial properties in Franklin. 

USDA Rural Development staff attended the CIRD workshop and because of the priorities set, the City of Franklin received $50,000 from USDA Rural Business Enterprise Grant to hire a downtown coordinator to carry out the projects identified. There has been a successful effort to bring in over $1.5 million in public and private resources.

Some examples:
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$500,000 in Community Development Block Grant as part of the $12 million to redevelop an underutilized mill into 40 units for seniors and individuals that income qualify
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$400,000 in Community Development Finance Authority tax credits which were largely purchased by local financial institutions. Funding used for façade improvements and building renovations.
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A private developer of vacant mill buildings, who shared his expertise at the CIRD workshop, has recently purchased a vacant, waterfront mill building for redevelopment. Plans are for new residential and commercial units.
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Mill City Park obtained $35,000 in funding for a study and in 2018; the city was awarded $200,000 from the Land and Water Conservation Fund with $200,000 match organized by Mill City Park. Franklin Savings Bank, a downtown institution, invested in Mill City Park. • Mill City Park at Franklin Falls land was incorporated as part of the Franklin Tax Increment Financing district so subsequent tax increases can be reinvested in the district.
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Tax credits have been purchased by Franklin Savings Bank, Bank of New Hampshire and Eversource Energy. 
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Funding from Capital Regions Development Council was awarded to Mill City Park for a master plan and to PermaCityLife for a condominium conversion plan for three mill buildings including renovation and façade improvements. 
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Eight new businesses have opened in Franklin. •Whitewater Park moves from concept to planning.

Read More:

Read our blog about the workshop here.

Read our workshop notebook here.

Learn more about what Franklin has accomplished since our workshop by reading our blog, "Franklin, NH: Going Strong, One Year after a CIRD Community Workshop."

This article cites the CIRD workshop as the town’s first attempt at reinventing itself (please include the link to this article. 

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