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'Calm, cool, decisive'

Clark, others reflect on his first year

Town Manager Christopher Clark is finishing up his first year on the job in Southbridge. Shawn Kelley. (click for larger version)
August 16, 2009
After one year as town manager here, Christopher Clark has seen that Southbridge is more than meets the eye.

When he started last August, he said, he was aware of the town's reputation as a somewhat "downtrodden" place, but over time he has come to see that "community spirit is much more prevalent … and there's a greater sense of interaction" than in many other towns.

"This really is a close-knit community, and there are a lot of very conscientious, very progressive-minded people," Clark said. "… I think we've got a tremendous opportunity to put ourselves on the map as a mini-nerve center for green technology" in the next five years.

To get there, he sees a major part of his job as helping the town jettison its own negative self-image, get on a "better financial footing" and promote itself to the outside world. A few key projects he sees as parts of "the toolbox" will move that a long way — the new school, access road and creating one or more small business incubators (he sees a potential for one in the former water department building). Many other tools already exist, including the town's "hub community" status, the hospital and other services, its large water supply, inexpensive housing and the most "undervalued component," an excellent workforce with "a high level of sophistication," he said.

See Monday's Southbridge Evening News for complete coverage of community news.

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