Business leaders, town employees from Lawrence, Andover and North Andover, state officials, and community advocates comprised the heart of the coalition, whichmet on an almost weekly basis to respond to the initial crisis and develop and implement integrated programming to support impacted business.
Leveraging a financial commitment to business resiliency in the region from Columbia Gas and entrusted to the Essex County Community Foundation, the coalition, convened by the Lawrence Partnership, has built on the work it started in the immediate aftermath of the tragedy. The group aligned resources, developed strategies and implemented a variety of critical services to help these businesses back to life.
- EforAll/EparaTodos, a bilingual nonprofit focused on business development, has spearheaded the outreach work and claims support to the affected businesses through nearly 4,000 site visits, phone calls and other activities. They have made 400 secondary referrals connecting affected businesses with technical assistance and have helped more than 50 businesses secure an additional combined $100,000 in claims from Columbia Gas.
- Mill Cities Community Investments (MCCI), a Lawrence-based Community Development Financial Institution with a successful commercial lending program in Lawrence for non-bankable small businesses, has administered close to $500,000 in emergency loans to affected businesses, providing the capital they need to recover and rebuild. This fund was convened with leadership from Mass Growth Capital Corporation and included capital from 20 distinct regional banks and credit unions.
- EparaTodos, MCCI and MassHire/Merrimack Valley Workforce Investment Board– a state agency that connects businesses and jobseekers – have led 30 marketing, accounting and employment workshops, giving more than 200 businesses the knowledge they need to maintain, staff and promote their businesses.
- Nearly $300,000 in business stabilization funding has been deployed to more than 60 businesses. This is funding for direct costs not covered by claims nor that can be managed by emergency loans.
- 20 regional lenders, led by Mass Growth Capital Corporation, committed over $2,000,000 to an emergency loan fund that lent nearly $500,000 to impacted businesses during the time of the crisis
Launching Regional Marketing Campaign
The next phase of support is a regional marketing campaign that celebrates the hundreds of small, locally owned businesses, while encouraging residents to shop locally and serve as advocates of the business community. The campaign launched July 1.