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Shared Spaces: Grant money fuels ‘collaborative workspaces’ in Lawrence, Methuen

October 12, 2021 : The Eagle-Tribune, by Jill Harmacinski

LAWRENCE — They are incubators, shared backdrops for musicians, artists, entrepreneurs, podcasters and more.

Several collaborative workspaces in the Merrimack Valley got some extra cash recently, courtesy of Gov. Charlie Baker’s administration.

60Vibe and One Broadway Collaborative in Lawrence along with JBS Corporation Collaborative Workspace in Methuen were among 28 recipients statewide that received more than $1 million in grants aimed at strengthening “community-based innovation and entrepreneurship,” according to MassDevelopment, the state agency that distributes the grants.

Former Lawrence Mayor Dan Rivera is MassDevelopment’s president and CEO.

He said the agency is proud to deliver the grants, “a vehicle for the Commonwealth to invest in alternative workplaces where makers, artists, chefs and others professionals can make their dreams a reality,” said Rivera, who left office in Lawrence in late 2020 to lead MassDevelopment.

“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,” Rivera explained.

This is the sixth round of grant money aimed at shared workspaces. Eligible organizations could apply for up to $15,000 each to study the feasibility of new workspaces or as much as $100,000 for “fit-out grants” for new equipment, building improvements and adjustments needed for social distancing and health and safety standards under the state’s COVID-19 workplace safety standards.

Lt. Governor Karyn Polito, along with local legislators, unveiled the grant money last Tuesday during a ceremony at 60Vibe, which is located at 60 Island St., suite 209, Lawrence.

Polito said “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.” She congratulated the 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.”

MassDevelopment provided the following descriptions of the shared workspaces and how they intent to use the grant money:

The One Broadway Collaborative received a $100,000 grant — the largest given in the grant pool in the Merrimack Valley. One Broadway is a membership-based non-profit that provides musicians and performing artists in all disciplines access to low-cost rehearsal, performance and co-working 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 room, and upgrade bathrooms, windows and doors.

60Vibe is a creative, collaborative, and productive workspace for startups, entrepreneurs, non-profits, 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 a $11,250 grant to buy additional furniture and equipment, including a phone booth, and to build a room especially designed for producing podcasts.

JBS Corporation Collaborative Workspace serves Spanish-speaking residents in the Merrimack Valley with rental workspaces, meeting rooms and small-business wraparound services through it’s Small Business Hub. The organization will use a $25,000 grant to further fit out it’s space with a large conference room, two additional offices, eight additional desks, two additional bathrooms, a cafe, and information meeting spaces throughout the facility.