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Lawrence Mayor Picked To Be Next MassDevelopment Chief

Lawrence Mayor Dan Rivera will lead MassDevelopment after current President and CEO Lauren Liss steps down at the end of the year.

A Greater Boston mayor who led his city through multiple crises has been picked to lead Massachusetts' development finance agency.

Lawrence Mayor Dan Rivera will replace outgoing MassDevelopment President and CEO Lauren Liss when she departs at the end of the year, the agency announced Thursday. The agency oversaw management and financing of 341 projects generating $2.7B of investment into the state in fiscal year 2020, according to a press release.

Rivera led his city of more than 100,000 people through the Merrimack Valley Columbia Gas Disaster in 2018, in which over 100 fires displaced 8,000 people and killed one teenager.

The Democrat also served on Republican Gov. Charlie Baker’s Reopening Advisory Board, helping to determine the state’s reopening strategy for the economy amid the coronavirus pandemic. Lawrence has been one of the hardest-hit cities in the state by the pandemic — 14% of residents have tested positive for the virus, The Eagle-Tribune reported.

“In his role as Mayor for the City of Lawrence, Dan met every challenge and seized every opportunity to support his residents and create a stronger economy — including more jobs and housing,” Baker said in a statement.

MassDevelopment's board voted unanimously to approve Rivera's selection, and Economic Development Secretary Mike Kennealy formally extended the offer to Rivera, a U.S. Army veteran.

He has led Lawrence for seven years and managed a $341M operating budget and $92M capital improvement plan while overseeing the creation of more than 2,400 housing units. He's entering the final year of his second term and told the Boston Herald he would discuss Lawrence transition plans at a City Council meeting next week.

“In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, MassDevelopment stands to play a role in reconstruction of our economy that is inclusive, equitable, and focuses on neighborhoods and business districts in every corner of the Commonwealth,” Rivera said in a statement.

Liss, who had not given a reason for her departure, led MassDevelopment programs to support small businesses amid the pandemic and oversaw special funding rounds to aid communities in repurposing public spaces and grants to help coworking spaces adhere to new safety guidelines.