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MassDevelopment Awards $86,415 in Commonwealth Places Grants to Assist Local Economic Recovery Efforts

September 23, 2020


Louisa Stone, MassDevelopment, 857-283-3340 (cell)

MassDevelopment has awarded $86,415 for 10 projects through the Commonwealth Places COVID-19 Response Round: Resurgent Places, a program made available specifically to assist local economic recovery efforts as community partners prepare public spaces and commercial districts to serve residents and visitors. Projects receiving awards include the creation of outdoor dining spaces, sidewalk retail venues, and partitions to support social distancing. Governor Charlie Baker, Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito, and MassDevelopment President and CEO Lauren Liss joined Lowell City Manager Eileen Donoghue, Do-it-Yourself Lowell Co-Founder Christopher Aurora Erickson, and African Community Center of Lowell Founder & Executive Director Gordon Halm to announce the grants today at Mill City BBQ & Brew in Lowell.

“We’re proud to see nonprofits like Do-it-Yourself Lowell and other organizations working together to address the impacts of COVID-19,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “The Commonwealth Places program is a tool to help drive foot traffic to downtowns and commercial districts by providing opportunities for safe dining and recreation and we look forward to continuing to work with municipalities to support local communities across the state.”

“Congratulations to all of today’s awardees, including Do-it-Yourself Lowell, which aims to amplify Lowell’s diverse history and attract residents and visitors to the city’s downtown shops and restaurants to shop and buy local,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “We look forward to seeing the economic impacts these placemaking projects will have here in Lowell and around the Commonwealth.”

“As Massachusetts continues to navigate the effects of COVID-19, the Baker-Polito Administration is committed to supporting local economic recovery efforts,” said Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Mike Kennealy. “Commonwealth Places provides much-needed resources to help nonprofits and other partners build momentum in their own communities.”

“Now in its fifth round, our Commonwealth Places program has been a resource to help communities implement placemaking projects that improve public spaces, create foot traffic, and stimulate economic activity,” said MassDevelopment President and CEO Lauren Liss. “In the wake of COVID-19, we were pleased to direct this funding towards projects that enable residents and visitors to safely dine, shop, and spend time outdoors in downtowns and commercial districts.”

Created in 2016, Commonwealth Places aims to engage and mobilize community members to make individual contributions for placemaking projects, with the incentive of a funding match from MassDevelopment if the crowdfunding goal is reached. In June 2020, MassDevelopment announced the availability of $225,000 in funding for the Commonwealth Places COVID-19 Response Round: Resurgent Places. For this round, nonprofits and other community groups could apply to MassDevelopment for grants of up to $25,000. Up to $10,000 per project could be awarded as an unmatched grant; awards greater than $10,000 must be matched with crowdfunding donations. All grantees and projects will be required to follow the mandatory safety standards and protocols of the Commonwealth’s Reopening Massachusetts plan.

MassDevelopment has previously announced $128,550 for 10 projects in Amesbury, Attleboro, Beverly, Boston, Greenfield, Haverhill, Hyannis, Lenox, Lynn, and Montague.

Commonwealth Places COVID-19 Response Round: Resurgent Places Projects

Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce ($10,000 grant)
Amherst Resilience Initiative – A Play in Three Acts
The Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce will (1) reopen an outdoor version of the Downtown Amherst Visitor Information Center and (2) install COVID-19 public health and wayfinding signage and landscaping in downtown Amherst. The organization will use funds to cover marketing and administrative costs and to buy display stands, iPads, and a handwashing station for the Visitor Information Center; queuing control signage, including floor stickers, posters, and canvas signs; and self-watering pots, plantings, and garden hardware.

Beyond Walls, Inc. ($4,250 grant)
WaSH and FoLD: Supporting a Safe and Appealing Return to Shared Public Spaces
The organization will create a stainless steel hand-washing station and curbside barriers to support an outdoor dining space in Lynn. The organization will also use funds to cover labor costs associated with the project.

Chicopee Chamber of Commerce ($10,000 grant)
Chicopee Center Public Spaces
The organization will transform a remediated lot in the city’s Transformative Development Initiative (TDI) district at 181 Center Street into a mixed-use public space for outdoor programming including farmers markets, food trucks, performances, community gatherings, and more. The organization will use funds to buy and install a gravel foundation, wood beams, outdoor lighting and seating, and shade or other weather coverings.

Creative Hub Worcester Inc. ($5,515 grant)
Creative Hub Worcester Mobile Art Van
The organization will create a “Creative Hub Worcester Mobile Art Van” and park it at various locations in Worcester’s Main South neighborhood to facilitate free, on-site art projects for community members. Creative Hub Worcester, Inc. will use funds to repair and outfit the van and cover the program’s startup operational costs.

Do-it-Yourself (DIY) Lowell ($10,000 grant)
Visualizing Lowell’s Black History
Do-it-Yourself Lowell will create two self-guided walking trails in downtown Lowell highlighting Black history and art. The walking trails, which will stretch from 167 Dutton Street to 35 Warren Street, will guide participants alongside retail shops and outdoor “streeteries,” encouraging visitors to spend time, shop, and dine in the area. The organization will use funds to install signage and art along the walking trails, including information about Lowell’s Black history, a temporary sculpture created by a Black artist, spaces for theatre performances, spoken word, and projected art, a kiosk, vinyl art banners, business directories, and COVID-19 public safety reminders.

Downtown Framingham, Inc. ($10,000 grant)
Route 126/135 Activation Project
Downtown Framingham, Inc. plans to install (1) outdoor seating, umbrellas, and barrier art for cafes at 12 Irving Street, (2) murals at 398 Waverly Street and 10 Pearl Street, and (3) landscaping on Waverly Street. The organization will use funds to buy tables, chairs, umbrellas, barriers, artwork, and a storage shed, and cover costs for landscaping installation, marketing, permitting and insurance, and staff time.

Friends of the North Brookfield Town House ($9,450 grant)
North Brookfield Outdoor Film Screenings
The organization will host a series of free outdoor drive-in movie screenings in downtown North Brookfield, using funds to cover movie screening equipment rentals, film licensing, site preparation, food truck permitting, and marketing costs.

Nuestra Comunidad Dev. Corp. ($10,000 grant)
Nubian Square Street Furniture
Nuestra Comunidad Development Corporation will install street furniture such as tables, benches, and chairs to facilitate outdoor programming in Roxbury’s Nubian Square. The organization will use funds to pay local artist and fabricator Radiant Jasmin to build the street furniture, which will encompass African-American and Afro-Caribbean cultural themes and will be used for outdoor dining, drive-in movies, beer gardens, job fairs, and other outdoor events.

ReImagine North of Main ($10,000 grant)
Milling About Fitchburg
This project aims to facilitate outdoor retail and entertainment at Fitchburg’s Riverfront Park area, including along Mill Street and Main Street. The organization will use funds to buy a movie screen and projector, a portable PA system, an FM transmitter, a generator, handwashing stations, and coolers and heating stations, all of which will be used to support vendors, artists, and musicians at outdoor events.

Stockbridge Library, Museum & Archives ($7,200 grant)
A Path to Reopening: Repurposing Public Space in Stockbridge, MA
The organization will host three monthly “pop-up” events featuring artist shows and presentations on the library’s front lawn, using funds to buy outdoor chairs, tables, art display panels, dividers, hand sanitizing stations, and personal protective equipment, and cover marketing and administrative costs.

MassDevelopment, the state’s finance and development agency, works with businesses, nonprofits, banks, and communities to stimulate economic growth across the Commonwealth. During FY2020, MassDevelopment financed or managed 341 projects generating investment of more than $2.69 billion in the Massachusetts economy. These projects are estimated to create or support 10,871 jobs and build or preserve 1,787 housing units.