NoteWorthy – 2/14/21
AROUND THE VALLEY
State Directs $8M to “Stuck” Buildings
The Baker-Polito administration and MassDevelopment announced the availability of up to $8 million in funding through the Underutilized Properties Program. The grant program aims to eliminate blight, expand housing production, increase accessibility, and support economic development by funding improvements to underutilized buildings located in Massachusetts downtowns or town centers. Through the first round of the program, municipalities and their economic development partners, nonprofits, and private-sector businesses can apply for grants ranging from approximately $50,000 to $2 million to design and fund capital improvements and code compliance projects for underutilized properties to support increased occupancy.
Funding will be awarded in two categories:
Buildings: Grants for capital improvements that are essential to the occupancy or increased occupancy of existing structures. These funds may address building stabilization, roof repair, HVAC system improvements, tenant improvements and fit-out expenses, and other similar purposes. Funds may also be used to facilitate compliance with building code, fire/life safety system regulations, accessibility requirements, seismic code, and other similar regulations.
Predevelopment: Grants to engage the services of architects, engineers, landscape architects and other related professionals to assess building conditions and to develop design and construction documents for capital improvement and code compliance projects in the buildings category.
MassDevelopment will host an informational webinar about the Underutilized Properties Program on February 19, 2021 at 9 a.m. Those interested can register here.
Baker-Polito Administration Awards $64 Million in Grants to 1,312 Additional Businesses for COVID Relief
The Baker-Polito administration has also announced nearly $64 million in awards to 1,312 additional businesses in the seventh round of COVID relief grants administered by the Massachusetts Growth Capital Corporation (MGCC). Each business meets sector and demographic priorities set for the two grant programs.
With the addition of this round of grant awards, the administration has awarded approximately $514 million in direct financial support to 11,212 businesses across the Commonwealth.
Among the sectors that received the highest total number of grants this round are: restaurants, bars, caterers or food trucks (426); personal services businesses (173); and independent retailers (114).
In addition, grants for this round were awarded to 596 minority-owned businesses and 489 women-owned businesses; 356 recipients are located in Gateway Cities, and 352 businesses have not received any prior aid.
Acknowledging the importance of restaurants and independent retailers to communities across Massachusetts, business owners of multiple locations that met demographic and sector priorities are receiving awards to support up to two additional locations.
Greater Lowell Community Foundation announces Racial Equity and Inclusion Grants
The Greater Lowell Community Foundation (GLCF) announced ten racial equity and inclusion grants totaling $84,500 to local nonprofits as part of the 2020 Discretionary Grants Program. These grants collectively work toward creating a better quality of life for all Greater Lowell residents and supporting local nonprofits providing essential programs and services.
The Foundation awarded multiple grants of up to $15,000 that focused on racial equity and inclusion. The grant funding focused on one or more of the following goals: increase understanding of our community’s challenges with racial equity and race relations; provide access to stories and diverse perspectives on the lived experience of racial inequity in Greater Lowell; strengthen relationships among Greater Lowell residents, particularly across racial and ethnic groups; and increase awareness of resources and best practices related to advancing racial equity.
Among the organizations funded was Free Soil Arts Collective, an arts organization based in Lowell, with a mission to amplify and strengthen the voices of artists of color; Budget Buddies, in Chelmsford; and Lowell’s Project LEARN, Inc., who received a grant of for Elevating Stories, Changing Narratives – A Student-Led Antiracism Program.
Lowell’s Place in U.S. History the Focus of Teacher Professional Development Workshops
The city of Lowell’s significance in U.S. history will be the focus of two new workshops for K-12 teachers, giving them the tools they need to develop engaging lesson plans on the American Industrial Revolution for their students.
Open to educators across the country, the week-long professional development sessions will be held virtually this summer by the Tsongas Industrial History Center as part of the Landmarks of American History and Culture program funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.
A partnership of UMass Lowell’s College of Education and Lowell National Historical Park, the Tsongas Industrial History Center provides programs for educators and school children that illustrate Lowell’s place in the country’s industrial past, present and future.
Both summer workshops are open to K-12 teachers in all subject areas. Educators may choose between two weeks to attend either program and will receive a $1,300 stipend for their participation. The application deadline is Monday, March 1. For more information about the programs, click here.
Jackson Lumber & Millwork Celebrates 75th Anniversary
Jackson Lumber & Millwork in Lawrence, Mass., serves contractors, remodelers, and homeowners throughout eastern Massachusetts and southern New Hampshire. Owned and operated by the Torrisi family since 1946, the company celebrates its 75th year milestone this year.
Founded by Joseph A. Torrisi, the company started at a small site on Jackson Street in Lawrence in 1946. Torrisi recognized the building materials supply business opportunity created by the post-World War II building boom. Named Jackson Lumber for the street where it was located, the company quickly outgrew the initial location and moved to Market Street, where they could spread out over an entire city block. Innovative for that time, the property included a drive-through lumber yard and a rail spur to facilitate lumber delivery by rail.
Today, the company has a millwork manufacturing facility in Raymond, New Hampshire, lumber yards and retail stores in Amesbury, Woburn and Lawrence, as well as a state-of-the-art kitchen design showroom in North Andover. Torrisi’s son, Al Torrisi, was at the company helm for 30 years before he passed control of Jackson Lumber & Millwork to the third generation of family leadership in 2012.
Current president, Mark Torrisi, is committed to continuing the company mission to “provide customers with quality products, services & solutions on-time and in-full every day.” After 75 years in business, Jackson Lumber & Millwork and the Torrisi family continue their commitment to stay close to their customers and help them with their project needs, to give back to their communities and actively participate in lumber industry associations.
MCC to Kick Off Spring 2021 Virtual ‘World of Music’ Concert Series
After a successful fall semester run, Middlesex Community College’s (MCC) Spring 2021 “A World of Music” will continue virtually throughout the semester. Performances will be recorded live and then streamed online for audiences to watch for free. The concert series will kick off with a performance celebrating black composers in honor of Black History Month.
MCC’s music department will release “Celebrating Black Composers from Europe, Africa, United States and South America” at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 26. The show will be recorded live at MCC’s Richard and Nancy Donahue Family Academic Arts Center in Lowell.
Middlesex faculty members will perform, including Todd Brunel on the clarinet and saxophone, Orlando Cela on the flute, Eunghee Cho on the cello, Rodriguez-Peralta on the piano, and Brazil-native Marcus Santos who will conclude the program with a drumming piece.
The performance includes a variety of styles from the 1700s to the present time, featuring works by Joseph Bologne, Florence Price, Samuel Coleridge Taylor, “Blind Tom” Wiggins, Bongani Ndodana-Breen and Gerri Allen. There will also be a Jazz Improvisation for saxophone and drums, and Afro Brazilian drumming with a dancer.
All events are free. Click here for more information.
Tupelo Music Hall to Open Drive In This Summer
After facing numerous setbacks because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Tupelo Music Hall in Derry, N.H. has announced the opening of the Tupelo Drive-In this summer. So far, approximately 35 show dates have been secured, and an official schedule is in the works that will extend throughout most of the summer season. The shows will begin this May, so stay tuned for updates. For COVID-19 updates, click here.
Firehouse Center for the Arts Announces Reopening of the Institution for Savings Gallery
Firehouse Center for the Arts in Newburyport has announced the reopening of the Institution for Savings Gallery from Friday, Feb. 12, through Sunday, March 28. In partnership with the Newburyport Art Association, the featured exhibit, Love is LOVE! will feature 32 pieces of artwork from 30 local artists. This exhibit will celebrate love in its many forms and shines a light on the artful joy of the community as artists work in acrylic, drawing, oil, pastel, photography, printmaking and mixed media. The partnership was inspired by a desire to collaboratively create a welcoming and vibrant arts experience for the public to safely experience throughout the winter. The Gallery will be open Thursday through Sunday from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Nominations Wanted: YWCA Northeastern Massachusetts 38th Annual Tribute to Women
Since 1983, the YWCA Northeastern Massachusetts’ Tribute to Women has recognized over 1200 local women leaders from business and community organizations. A hallmark of the tribute is that women honored come from all walks of life; their contributions are varied, and all are remarkable in their own unique way. This year, YWCA Northeastern Massachusetts is seeking nominations of women who have made a difference in their work and community. Nominations will be accepted through March 1 visit the YWCA website here. The Tribute to Women luncheon takes place virtually on May 13 at 6:30 p.m.
MOVERS & SHAKERS
Atlantic Hospitality Group Announces Certified Master Chef Daniel Dumont as Director of Culinary Operations
Certified Master Chef, three-time Culinary Olympics gold medal winner, and passionate food craftsman Daniel Dumont will be responsible for overseeing the development and execution of menus and kitchen operations for the group’s five seacoast dining, events and entertainment establishments—Seaglass Restaurant, Capri Seaside Italian Kitchen & Pizzeria, Blue Ocean Event Center, SurfSide, and Blue Ocean Music Hall. Chef Dumont has worked at some of the country’s most celebrated and award-winning restaurants and resorts spanning two decades.
A New England native, Chef Dumont has more than 30 years of experience in the hospitality industry. He is also the founder and CEO of WHISK Kitchen, an innovative plant-based dressing and condiment company. Chef Dumont and his family have always enjoyed a love affair with cooking.
Groundwork Lawrence Executive Director Receives Florence G. Heller Alumni Award
Heather McMann, executive director os Groundwork Lawrence, is one of 15 recipients of the 2020 Florence G. Heller Alumni Award. Groundwork Lawrence (GWL) is a public health and environmental organization based in Lawrence, Massachusetts, and has worked for 25 years in the nonprofit sector. McMann spoke about what GWL means to her and shared her passion for working towards a more equitable community. This award is given to Heller School graduates living a life that exemplifies the mission and vision of the school and honors the legacy of the school’s namesake, Florence G. Heller. Award recipients all produced positive and impactful change through the rigor, creativity, and innovation of their work. Check out more about McMann here.
Entrepreneurship Center at Community Teamwork Hires Popular Local Business Owner
Local businesswoman Ani Vong has joined the Entrepreneurship Center (ECenter) team, working in partnership with former female founders KellyAnne Mello and Franky Descoteaux. Vong is a Khmer American woman, Lowellian and entrepreneur. As owner and operator of Humanity Boutique in downtown Lowell since 2014, she has led the store through slow economic times. During COVID-19, Vong has transformed her business into an e-commerce presence and pop-up shop.
Check out the latest episode of The 495 Podcast!
This week on The 495, host Doug Sparks talks with Jon Santos and Kate Cutlip of Tiny Arms Coffee Roasters of Lowell. See how you can make a better world with better coffee.