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Amesbury chamber receives $10K grant for downtown programs

June 28, 2021 : Newburyport Daily News, Staff Report

AMESBURY — MassDevelopment has awarded a $10,000 grant to the Amesbury Chamber of Commerce to help the organization draw foot traffic downtown every Thursday evening this summer.

The chamber initiative, called “Thursdays are Shop Local, Stay Late: Downtown Entertainment Out Until 8:00,” encourages small businesses to extend their hours of operation until 8 p.m.

The grant also aims to help with programming such as art lessons, live music performances and fitness classes, according to a MassDevelopment press release.

The Chamber of Commerce is also doing fundraising this summer, with a goal of $6,000, which would then be matched by MassDevelopment, on top of the $10,000 grant.

The funding is awarded through MassDevelopment’s special Commonwealth Places COVID-19 Response Round: Resurgent Places, which was made available specifically to assist local economic recovery efforts as community partners prepare public spaces and commercial districts to serve residents and visitors. 

In a press release, Housing and Economic Development Secretary Mike Kennealy, who serves as chair of MassDevelopment’s board of directors, said, “Before this pandemic, the vibrant centers of our cities and towns were not only a driving force behind the strength of local economies, they were the places where we gathered to dine, to shop, and to be entertained, and the Commonwealth Places program is one way that we can help these areas bounce back stronger than ever."

Phil DeCologero, director of the Chamber of Commerce, told The Daily News, “It’s exciting that we get to partner with MassDevelopment for a second season to further inject life into our downtown. Amesbury has a unique layout that offers the community so many opportunities to gather and enjoy; and I’m grateful for MassDevelopment’s help in activating those locations.”

Dan Rivera, a former mayor of Lawrence who is now president and CEO of MassDevelopment, said in the press release, “Downtowns are open for business, so we are proud to support local small businesses and the Amesbury Chamber of Commerce as it offers creative programming and coordinates extended retail hours to bring increased vibrancy to Amesbury’s downtown."  

Created in 2016, Commonwealth Places aims to engage and mobilize community members to make individual contributions to placemaking projects, with the incentive of a funding match from MassDevelopment if the crowdfunding goal is reached.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, MassDevelopment announced the opening of the first Commonwealth Places COVID-19 Response Round: Resurgent Places in June 2020 and from August to October 2020 awarded $224,965 in funding for 21 placemaking projects across Massachusetts.

MassDevelopment announced the availability of another $390,000 in funding for a second round of grants to be available later this year.