Lt. Governor Polito joined Fitchburg Mayor Stephen DiNatale, Fitchburg State University President Dr. Richard S. Lapidus, and local community and business leaders to announce the awards at Fitchburg State University’s ideaLab, located in the renovated Main Street theater block. The ideaLab includes space that serves as an intellectual playground for Fitchburg State students, faculty and community members, and also represents an important step in revitalizing downtown Fitchburg.
Launched by the Baker-Polito Administration in 2016, the Urban Agenda Grant Program offers competitive awards offer flexible funding for local efforts that bring together community stakeholders to pursue economic development initiatives. The awards announced today will fund projects supporting workforce development, small businesses, and entrepreneurship initiatives across eight communities: Barnstable, Boston, Chelsea, Fitchburg, Lawrence, Lowell, Springfield, and Worcester.
“Our administration is committed to supporting local leadership and high-impact projects that support collaboration and a shared goal of enhancing vibrant urban communities,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “The Urban Agenda program is one of the ways we invest in innovative partnerships that help residents re-enter the workforce, provide technical assistance to small businesses and support local entrepreneurs.”
“When we empower local leaders and projects that thoughtfully address the unique issues facing our urban centers, we have an outsized impact on the lives of residents,” said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito. “The Urban Agenda Grant Program relies on the strong partnerships between local government, non-profits and the business community that are critical to fostering economic success and building stronger neighborhoods in every region in Massachusetts.”
The Urban Agenda Grant Program provides grants to communities working to provide residents with economic opportunities and workforce training. The program prioritizes projects that are based on collaborative work models that feature a strong partnership between community organizations and municipalities. Awards prioritize collaboration, shared accountability and building leadership capacity at the local level.
“Today’s awards address tough challenges in our urban centers by empowering these important coalitions to identify their resources, work together towards shared goals and create new opportunities for residents,” said Housing and Economic Development Secretary Mike Kennealy.
The Commonwealth’s Urban Agenda is focused on promoting economic vitality and cultivating safer, stronger urban neighborhoods across Massachusetts. The Baker-Polito Administration recognizes that urban centers face unique economic and quality-of-life challenges, and that their success lies in tapping into the unique local assets they already possess, rather than in one-size-fits-all directives from government.
“This Urban Agenda Grant is wonderful news. The grant will be used to support the implementation of programs at Fitchburg State University’s newest off-campus asset, the ideaLab, which is located in the Theater Block across from City Hall on Main Street,” said Fitchburg Mayor Stephen L. DiNatale. “It will help to establish Fitchburg State’s ideaLab as a center for inspiration, ideas, and action.”
“We are grateful for the Baker-Polito Administration’s support of the ideaLab, where we hope to continue linking the University’s facilities and faculty and student expertise to the community’s needs,” said Fitchburg State University President Richard S. Lapidus. “This project embodies the collaborative spirit that will help renew downtown Fitchburg and supports the continued growth of its creative economy.”
“As someone who worked in the private sector for over two decades, I know the importance of creating jobs. It is wonderful to see state government giving its support to the development of businesses,” said Senator Dean Tran. “The Activate Fitchburg initiative will allow local innovators and entrepreneurs to get the startup resources they need in order to start their businesses. I am excited to see the entrepreneurial spirit that this money will unleash and I thank the Baker-Polito Administration for selecting Fitchburg as one of the recipients.”
“I am pleased that the Office of Housing & Economic Development has awarded Activate Fitchburg an Urban Agenda Grant in the amount of $60,000. In particular, the award will support Fitchburg State University’s ideaLab. This grant will be used to provide creative entrepreneurs the necessary tools and assistance they need to turn their unique ideas into viable businesses. This is yet another example of what can be accomplished when the state partners with the city of Fitchburg, private sector businesses, and our University system to enhance opportunities for the creation of new and innovative business ideas,” said Representative Stephan Hay.
In 2016, the Baker-Polito Administration awarded $3 million in grant funding to 13 communities for the inaugural round of the Urban Agenda Grant Program, with an additional $1 million awarded since the program’s inception. Urban Agenda is administered by the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development (EOHED), and offers flexible grant funding to support creative local partnerships.
Read this article on the Mass.gov website to learn more.