• Project
  • Northeast
  • Economic & Fiscal Impact Analysis

District Improvement Financing: A Guide to Using DIF in Massachusetts

February 3, 2023

Aerial map of MassachusettsThe Challenge

After a strategic plan or market study, how does a community move forward on its action items? If infrastructure or other public improvements are critical factors for growth, what are the sources of funding and how does a project compete with the many other needs of the community? These are the questions plaguing communities across the country.

The Solution

Financing programs that enable a community to identify and capture incremental tax revenues generated by private investment are authorized in 48 states. They are often called Tax Increment Financing, or “TIF.” In Massachusetts, the statute creating their program, called District Improvement Financing, or “DIF”, was amended in 2016 but two years later only a handful of communities had used the tool. Interest was strong but getting started was a challenge.

MassDevelopment engaged Camoin Associates to create a suite of educational materials to be published online that will help towns and cities learn about DIF, make well-informed decisions about whether or not to use it, and create their own local program. Three pilot communities were awarded Camoin Associates’ implementation services as part of a grant.

The Impact

Two of the pilot communities enacted DIF in 2019, and the City of Amesbury issued General Obligation Bonds to finance infrastructure projects. Towns and cities are regularly accessing the materials to educate themselves about DIF and plan for implementation. MassDevelopment also engaged Camoin Associates to provide technical assistance to the City of Attleboro to implement DIF in 2021.

Additional DIF Tools and Materials Provided

Education and Workshops

  • Three webinars
  • DIF workshop for towns and cities, with interactive sessions and panel discussion

DIF Template

Customizable document to present the plan and support local legislation

DIF Estimator

An online tool, like a mortgage estimator, to show the potential of DIF

DIF Capital Mix Estimator

A workbook for project funding using DIF

Frequently Asked Questions

Case Studies

  • City of Somerville
  • City of Taunton
  • City of Brockton