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Baker-Polito Administration Awards More Than $1 Million to Launch, Grow Collaborative Workspaces

Program funds infrastructure for community-based innovation & entrepreneurship across 28 organizations
October 05, 2021

Michael Verseckes (HED)

Kelsey Schiller (MassDevelopment) 

LAWRENCE — Today, the Baker-Polito Administration announced $1,075,000 in grants to 28 organizations in 22 communities throughout the Commonwealth to strengthen community-based innovation and entrepreneurship. The sixth round of the Collaborative Workspace Program, administered by MassDevelopment, aims to accelerate business formation, job creation, and entrepreneurial activity in communities by supporting infrastructure that fuels locally based innovation.

“Massachusetts remains a leader in innovation, with collaborative workspaces providing professionals in every kind of industry a place to test new ideas, explore talents, and engage with peers,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “We are pleased to award these grants to organizations across the state to boost innovation and job creation.”

“Across the Commonwealth, collaborative workspaces such as makerspaces, artist spaces, shared kitchens, and more have breathed new life into downtown buildings and created room for innovation and entrepreneurship,” said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito. “Congratulations to today’s awardees, who will now be able to build out their workspaces with new equipment and features or explore the feasibility of a new workspace in their community.”

Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito and Housing and Economic Development Secretary Mike Kennealy joined MassDevelopment President and CEO Dan Rivera as well as Representatives Marcos Devers, Frank Moran, Linda Dean Campbell, and Christina Minicucci, and Lawrence Mayor Kendrys Vasquez, to announce the awards today at 60 Vibe in Lawrence.

“MassDevelopment’s Collaborative Workspace Program creates jobs by supporting the physical infrastructure where entrepreneurs can learn a new craft or launch a business,” said Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Mike Kennealy, who serves as chair of MassDevelopment’s Board of Directors. “Now in its sixth year, we’re seeing how the program has engaged more than 10,000 users in communities across the Commonwealth.”

“MassDevelopment is proud to administer the Collaborative Workspace Program, a vehicle for the Commonwealth to invest in alternative workplaces where makers, artists, chefs, and other professionals can make their dreams a reality,” said MassDevelopment President and CEO Dan Rivera. “Collaborative workspaces offer resources such as shared tools and equipment, mentoring and educational programming, and peer-to-peer support that create real economic opportunities for their members.”

In May 2021, the Baker-Polito Administration and MassDevelopment announced the opening of the sixth round of Collaborative Workspace Program grants. Eligible organizations could apply for seed grants of up to $15,000 to study the feasibility of new collaborative workspaces or fit-out grants of up to $100,000 for new equipment or building improvements, including adjustments to help spaces adhere to the social distancing and health and safety standards outlined in the Commonwealth's sector-specific COVID-19 Workplace Safety Standards.

“I am thrilled that 60Vibe won this competitive grant funding, and I want to thank the Baker-Polito Administration for continuing to invest in Lawrence’s revitalization,” said State Senator Barry Finegold. “60Vibe is an incredible collaborative workspace that supports local business owners, entrepreneurs, and non-profits, and this important grant will help 60Vibe continue to expand. The pandemic has hit everyone hard, but it has disproportionately impacted communities of color. It is imperative that we continue to invest in economic development and help local businesses recover from the impact of COVID-19.”

“I am optimistic that the Collaborative Workspace Grant will have far reaching impacts in Lawrence,” said State Representative Marcos A. Devers. “When small businesses are supported in this way, the whole community benefits.”
“This critical funding will expand Lawrence’s ability to support our small business community by providing them with the resources to succeed, create high-quality jobs for our residents, and drive local innovation that will transform our city,” said State Representative Frank A. Moran. “I would like to congratulate 60Vibe on being chosen to receive this grant and will continue to follow the incredible and collaborative work that they do within our city to build and support our entrepreneurial spirit.”

Since its inception in the fall of 2014, and through FY2021, the Collaborative Workspace Program has provided more than $9.8 million in 164 awards for the planning, development, and build-out of different types of collaborative workspaces. Through the first five rounds of the program, collaborative workspaces have added 10,106 users since implementing their grant-funded projects, and occupy approximately 1,013,593 square feet in cities and towns across Massachusetts. Many awards have benefited innovation spaces in Gateway Cities.

FY22 Collaborative Workspace Program Awarded Projects

The Cordial Eye Gallery and Artist Space, Barnstable – $15,000

Built around models of mutual aid and social justice, the Cordial Eye Gallery and Artist Space is a nonprofit alternative arts organization that provides classes and workshops, social clubs, and support groups. The organization closed its previous physical location in March 2020 due to COVID-19, and has been operating online and running various pop-up events. The organization will use this grant to fund a feasibility study for a proposed new coworking space.

GrubStreet Center for Creative Writing, Boston – $64,395

The GrubStreet Center for Creative Writing is a vibrant, welcoming space that offers a racially and economically diverse community of teen and adult writers access to writing classes, literary arts education, and a home for artistic collaboration, creation, and programming. GrubStreet will use this grant to fund fit-out and equipment costs to make the center fully ADA accessible, including installing assistive listening devices into the event space and classrooms to meet the needs of community members with low hearing.

Foundation Kitchen, Boston – $89,505

Foundation Kitchen operates two family-owned-and-operated shared commercial kitchen workspaces in Somerville that provide food entrepreneurs access to fairly priced kitchen space, business support, consultancy, and mentorship. The organization will use this grant to build out and equip a new commercial kitchen in Boston’s Charlestown neighborhood that can serve up to 40 members, featuring food-hall-type vendor stalls and private kitchen studio space.

The Possible Project, Boston – $100,000

The Possible Project’s mission is to advance economic equity by ensuring young people develop the entrepreneurial spirit, skills, and networks to launch successful careers. The organization works with high schools in Boston to offer students a free, year-round, multi-year entrepreneurship program that includes dynamic project-based curriculum, including STEAM education, hands-on work experience, and individualized college and career advising. The organization recently acquired a building in Boston’s Jamaica Plain neighborhood, and will use this grant to buy equipment and furniture to fully outfit its coworking space and makerspace.

Workhub at the Substation, Boston – $18,949.68

Workhub at the Substation is a coworking space in Boston’s Roslindale neighborhood that supports freelancers, innovators, and entrepreneurs, and meets the needs of the growing number of remote employees in the area. The organization will use this grant to buy and install phone booths, conference room shades, soundproofing panels, external monitors, additional seating, and additional security cameras, as well as equipment to accommodate community programming and events.

Black Market (Madison Park Development Corporation), Boston – $80,000

The Black Market is a Black-owned micro-business accelerator located at 2136 Washington St. in Boston’s Roxbury neighborhood in a building owned by the Madison Park Development Corporation (MPDC). Black Market supports artisans and entrepreneurs of color facing barriers to business success by providing them space to create art, display and vend their products, hold meetings, and participate in capacity-building trainings and workshops. MPDC will use this grant to fund improvements to the building envelope, including replacing the roof, installing gutters and skylights, completing masonry work and repointing, and creating a permanent mural.

Brockton Innovation Center (City of Brockton & Brockton Redevelopment Authority), Brockton – $10,000

The City of Brockton and the Brockton Redevelopment Authority aim to create the Brockton Innovation Center, which would provide coworking space, training, and mentoring to pre- and post-startup businesses, with a particular emphasis on minority enterprises. They will use this grant to hire a consultant to study current trends and forecast demand for coworking space and business-development services in metro Brockton and prepare a feasibility study.

WorkHub on Union, Easthampton – $5,000

WorkHub on Union aims to convert space within the Easthampton Chamber of Commerce building into affordable, flexible, low-risk professional workspace – one of several projects recommended by the Easthampton Local Rapid Recovery Technical Assistance Plan. The organization will use this grant to test the feasibility of the space and develop design plans.

The Fitchburg Arts Collective, Fitchburg – $50,000

The Fitchburg Arts Collective will convert a downtown space into six affordable studio spaces and a flex space for creative coworking, art shows, and workshops. The organization will use this grant to fit out and equip the spaces, including funding gallery hanging systems, alarms, IT infrastructure, work tables, folding tables, chairs, storage lockers, large-format printers, a projector and audio equipment, and more.

Framingham Makerspace, Inc., Framingham – $99,781.32

The Framingham Makerspace, Inc. helps new and experienced makers fabricate projects through tools and training. The organization will use this grant to attract a diverse new set of makers – including fiber arts makers, soap makers, woodshop makers, and computer-aided design (CAD)/computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) users – by building and equipping a fiber arts lab, installing a three-bowl sink for soap makers, improving the existing woodshop with additional tools necessary for professional quality fabrication, and adding three CAD/CAM workstations.

Chair City Legacy Makerspace, Gardner – $11,650

The Chair City Legacy Makerspace, currently being piloted in a building on School Street, was created in response to calls from former furniture industry workers and new makers about the need for a dedicated space in Gardner to work their crafts, learn new skills, and teach a new generation of makers. Limited by its current facility’s one-room format, the organization will use this grant to fund a consultant who will assess the financial viability and sustainability of a makerspace in Gardner, develop a draft budget for the next two years, and evaluate the organization’s recent pilot program. 

60Vibe, Lawrence – $11,250

60Vibe is a creative, collaborative, and productive workspace for startups, entrepreneurs, nonprofits, and small businesses, all of whom can take advantage of a safe and clean space with amenities, such as secure Wi-Fi, sizable conference rooms with video conferencing capabilities, high-end photo editing, and video-editing and sound-production equipment. The organization will use this grant to buy additional furniture and equipment, including a phone booth, and to build a room especially designed for producing podcasts. 

One Broadway Collaborative, Lawrence – $100,000

One Broadway Collaborative is a membership-based nonprofit that provides musicians and performing artists in all disciplines access to low-cost rehearsal, performance, and coworking space; instruments, podcast/video-production space, and other technology related to performing and promoting their work; and networking and professional-development opportunities. The organization will use this grant to increase accessibility to the space by installing an outdoor wheelchair lift and platform walkway to the building’s loading dock, install a modern HVAC system, build a dedicated podcasting/video production room, and upgrade bathrooms, windows, and doors.

The Brickyard Collaborative, Lynn – $13,250

The Brickyard Collaborative is a makerspace offering rapid prototyping, metalworking, woodworking, textile arts, digital imaging, electronics, and robotics. The organization will use this grant to build partitions, aimed at controlling traffic and airflow and creating a child-safe space for K-12 education and STEAM work with the Lynn Education District Partnership, and to install dust-collection systems.

JBS Corporation Collaborative Workspace, Methuen – $25,000

The JBS Corporation Collaborative Workspace is coworking space serving Spanish-speaking residents in the Merrimack Valley with rental workspaces, meeting rooms, and small-business wraparound services through its Small Business Hub. The organization will use this grant to further fit out its space with a large conference room, two additional offices, eight additional desks, two additional bathrooms, a café, and informal meeting spaces throughout the facility.

BoroBot Makerspace, Middleboro – $20,000

The BoroBot Makerspace seeks to teach members how to use CAD for 3D printing and CNC machining, designing and wiring electronics, and programming microcontrollers to create a pathway of mobility from low- to high-skilled employment or entrepreneurship. The organization will use this grant to buy additional equipment and furniture and add self-service and safety features to existing equipment to reduce time demands on volunteer staff.

Discovery Economic Development Hub, New Bedford – $50,000

Discovery Economic Development Hub is a proposed state-of-the-art digital technology coworking space that will enable individuals and groups to cross-reference ideas and concepts, support creative thought, and harness talents that can go unnoticed or underdeveloped due to existing social and economic barriers. The organization will use this grant to build out the coworking space at the DeMello International Center by procuring Zoom capabilities, 3D printers, a laser cutter, Wi-Fi, teleconference capabilities, a recording studio space, and broadcast equipment.

33 Hawley, Northampton – $42,000

33 Hawley is a 25,000-square-foot multi-use arts facility in downtown Northampton owned and operated by the Northampton Community Arts Trust. The Trust plans to use this grant to install a new resilient sprung floor system suitable for dancing and other multi-arts use in its collaborative arts space known as the Workroom Theater.

The Central School, Orange – $15,000

With a goal to serve economically distressed populations and make it easier for them to run a business, the Central School will use this grant to design renovations to a 29,000-square-foot building to add instructional spaces for the performing and visual arts, shared coworking spaces for artists, offices, a commercial kitchen, and residential uses.

The Fitzpatrick Collaborative, Pepperell – $6,000

The Fitzpatrick Collaborative is a nonprofit responsible for developing the former Fitzpatrick School located on Main Street in Pepperell into a thriving center serving local recreation, education, and arts programs with workspace for businesses. The organization will use this grant to hire a consultant that will develop a plan for a commercial kitchen and food hub in the building.

Tyler Street Lab, Pittsfield – $15,000

The Tyler Street Lab began as a pop-up experiment sponsored by the Pittsfield Transformative Development Initiative (TDI) Partnership, and has since moved to 741 Tyler St. The Lab provides programming for entrepreneurs (via Berkshire EforAll), youth, and individuals on the Autism spectrum, and will use this grant to buy equipment.

Provincetown Commons, Provincetown – $57,000

The Provincetown Commons supports creative professionals, artists, small enterprise, scientific, and technological projects, and community initiatives through coworking space, shared resources, educational programs, and economic development initiatives. The organization will use this grant to upgrade its existing HVAC system and make needed roof repairs.

The Collective Co., Scituate – $6,975

The Collective Co. is a coworking and event space dedicated to helping women work, learn, connect, and thrive. The organization will use this grant to buy A/V equipment for events, professional podcasting and camera equipment for members to rent, two computers, a standing desk, and a private phone booth, as well as to paint the awning of the building.

The Ethnic Study CoWork Café & Bookstore, Springfield – $100,000

The Ethnic Study is a coworking space and cultural hub for education, collaboration, and entrepreneurship. The organization will use this grant to build a makerspace, complete with a recording studio in its basement, renovate and repair the café and storefront spaces, make accessibility improvements to ensure ADA compliance, further build out and upgrade the facility, and buy furniture and equipment.

Food Revolution, Stoneham – $12,500

Food Revolution is a woman-owned, mission-based shared commercial kitchen for new and small local food businesses. The organization will use grant funds to add cold storage and oven space to remove existing bottlenecks.

Technocopia, Worcester – $14,178

Technocopia is a nonprofit makerspace offering common workspace, rental bays, tools, trainings, and workshops. The organization will use this grant to implement a member-management and billing system, replace equipment, and improve gaps in electrical service.

WorcLab, Worcester – $27,566

WorcLab is an incubator and coworking space consisting of 10,000 square feet of private offices, desk space, conference rooms, event space, a modern kitchen, and a prototyping lab equipped with a 3D printer farm and PCB manufacturing line. The organization will use this grant to make general space improvements to accommodate increased membership and buy new equipment for its prototyping lab.

Family Table Collaborative, Inc. at The Riverway, Yarmouth – $15,000

Family Table Collaborative, Inc. is proposing to develop a nonprofit community kitchen that would be located in a vacant restaurant building known as The Riverway. The organization will use this grant to hire a design engineering form to redesign the space for community access.

About MassDevelopment 

MassDevelopment, the state’s development finance agency and land bank, works with businesses, nonprofits, banks, and communities to stimulate economic growth across the Commonwealth. During FY2021, MassDevelopment financed or managed 416 projects generating investment of more than $1.86 billion in the Massachusetts economy. These projects are estimated to create or support 6,578 jobs and build or preserve 1,909 housing units.