If you head north to Portsmouth, you may get a little bit of a shock as you not only see a Newburyport Bank branch office but several construction projects around that town with the familiar logo in front!
I know they might not necessarily want you to be aware of it, but the Five even though it has a formidable presence in our city; is, after all, a commercial enterprise. All those bank officials, all those stockholders and all those trustees wouldn’t be very happy if Newburyport’s venerable bank wasn’t turning a profit.
But what happens when you’re located in Cannibal City? What happens when political gridlock has made it impossible for the city to move forward so our local businesses can prosper?
You put out fingers into a more successful community that has mastered urban development and are now paying handsomely for their foresight!
And what city is that?
Portsmouth, New Hampshire.
A city I might add which was in the same derelict condition as Newburyport and at the same time.
Now it is an extremely prosperous city even in the face of the Obama Economy. So how did they triumph while other communities have floundered?
They posses four things that we do not.
They have an expanded local historic district that not only covers the business community but covers many residential areas.
They have resolved the sidewalk issue with brick inside the historic district and concrete outside of the historic district.
They have a parking garage that can take the pressure off the downtown when needed and ensure everyone can reach the local businesses.
They have a central, expanded waterfront park that is engaging and in which abutting properties are enjoying the profitable dividend of surrounding it.
All of these are still having difficulty taking off in Newburyport and it is resulting in our city being overshadowed by a copycat. (Portsmouth redid their downtown urban plan because of the pioneering work of Newburyport!)
I salute Newburyport Five Cents Savings Bank – they may be miserable when it comes to historic preservation but they aren’t prejudiced enough not to profit from historic preservation when it is successfully applied in other communities.
PS. Don’t ever forget that it was not our local banks who saw the future, prosperous, Newburyport that we have today. It took countless visionary businesses and property owners most often turned down when they requested loans who took the risk to live and work in our community that made that difference.