Lawrence News

Interview with Derek Mitchell on “La Movida”

A few days ago José Ayala and I had the opportunity to interview Derek Mitchell, executive director of the Lawrence Partnership, an organization created to assist Lawrence entrepreneurs. Five local financial institutions, TD Bank, Enterprise Bank, Eastern Bank and Merrimack Valley Credit Union, pledged to deposit $250,000 each and provide loans to merchants in the city.
These loans of a maximum of $100,000 to each applicant are intended to help them grow and, above all, increase their employability, thus guaranteeing more work for our residents. More importantly is to prepare this population to occupy the jobs of the future and to earn more than the minimum wage that many people now receive. To that end, they have created the Training Consortium through which several companies established in the city can train future employees.

One of those efforts was recently made with the creation of City @ Work, a panel discussion with Lawrence’s biggest employers to plan for the labor weaknesses we have and how to overcome them.  Also, they have just opened the revolving kitchen at 420 Common Street with Coco Ray. Raymond Gonzalez started with a food truck but his dream was to open his own restaurant. Staying in this place will open the doors while he gains experience in the next 9 months without having to make a huge investment and be able to get a brick and mortar place of his own. Then another business in the food-related industry will have the same opportunity. All the equipment that is in Coco Ray’s Restaurant was donated by Sal Lupoli.

The process of applying for a loan is very easy; the original application can be found on the Lawrence Partnership website with the requirements. If you need assistance or more information, you may contact Derek Mitchell at (978) 655-5824. Any questions regarding loans can be directed to Frank Carvahlo, Mill City Community Investments at 978-970-0600, Ext. 5.

You can watch the interview on WCEC-AM 1490 on Facebook, find José Ayala’s page “La Movida.”

 

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  • Blue strip:
    • JOINING RESOURCES, ACHIEVING CHANGE.
    • What is possible when we collaborate to develop the Lawrence economy? Pooling resources —knowledge, finance, infrastructure, relationships, passion, commitment — to achieve transformational change. Investing in residents, building opportunities, creating upward mobility for all.
  • About Us
    • Our Story: Our story is one of collaboration and dedication. Leaders from business, education, healthcare, non-profit, and government sectors coming together to realize an economic development strategy that benefits our residents, repurposes our infrastructure, and lifts all of us to greater prosperity.
    • Our Leaders: We are a coalition of leaders throughout the City of Lawrence that are dedicated to working together on a shared vision of growing the Lawrence economy. To do this, we are bringing the resources of our organizations to the table, as well as a spirit of collaboration that allows us to achieve goals of a bigger magnitude than any one entity could accomplish alone.
    • Our Work: Our work is multifaceted, as is any growing economy. Above all, we are investing in our people: nurturing small business owners, designing training and career paths for our residents, partnering with leaders around the Merrimack Valley to catalyze economic development, as well as create opportunities and other innovative projects.
  • Small Business
    • Venture Loan Fund |  Small Business Connector  |  Revolving Test Kitchen
    • Small business: Entrepreneurs and new business are crucial to our economic growth. To that end, the Lawrence Partnership has created formal programs providing access to both financing and technical expertise on all aspects of starting and running a business.
  • Workforce Development
    • Training Consortium
    • The Training Consortium’s mission is to connect regional employers with the talent they need to fuel growth. With a healthy, trained workforce, businesses can grow and employment opportunities can surge, fueling economic opportunity throughout the region.
    • A demand-driven initiative, the Training Consortium has identified the most urgent needs of local industries, and is currently building training and career paths for area residents to target hard-to-fill jobs.

Our Story

  • Our Vision
    • We love Lawrence. A city rich in history, diversity, and beauty, Lawrence grew to prominence in manufacturing’s heyday, spawning majestic brick mill buildings along the Merrimack River while attracting immigrants with its plentiful jobs.
    • And these assets yet remain. A tradition of welcoming immigrants and their cultures defines the city, while mill buildings today house not just manufacturing operations, but office space, retail shops and cafes, and living spaces. It is our vision to accelerate the economic development of our city, creating opportunities that preserve this character and infrastructure, while hosting a thriving and growing business environment at the heart of Merrimack Valley.
  • Our Approach
    • Developing an urban community is a complex endeavor. We drew from the experience of other cities across the U.S., as well as empirical research, to guide our formation. We also studied the experiences of such local Massachusetts communities as Lowell and Salem, which have experienced significant revitalization.
    • What we discovered is that collaboration is crucial. No single leader, company, school, or community organization can do everything by itself. Accordingly, we are a group of presidents, CEOs and executive directors of local banks, mills, businesses, schools, and community organizations, along with elected officials, unified around a vision of a growing and thriving Lawrence. We speak with one voice, share our resources, and meet regularly to identify and implement projects of transformational change.
    • Our work comprises many activities, all of which bring our partners together across sectors to break down barriers that constrain business growth and employment opportunities for our residents. We are bringing investment capital and expert mentoring to new and small business that traditionally have difficulty accessing both. We are working with large organizations in various capacities to create lasting employment opportunities and upward mobility for our citizens. And we serve as an advocate and voice for the City, communicating our successes and milestones to our residents and those in surrounding communities, as well our vision and optimism for the future.
  • Our Principles
    • The work we undertake is guided by our working principles:
    • The partnership is by its nature a collaborative body that convenes stakeholders to implement projects and ideas that nobody would have the capacity to do independently.
    • Principle: If there is another group that can take on a project, the partnership should support that group instead of leading it.
    • Principle: The partnership is a big thinker, with capacity and commitment to approach issues of large scale and long-term time horizons.
    • A growing economy that attracts outside investment and generates new development opportunities may inevitably create some level of displacement, but through intentional policies and approaches, those impacts may be minimized.
    • Principle: The partnership will prioritize projects and strategies that maximize economic opportunities for current residents.
    • Each sector—public, private, non-profit—is uniquely qualified and positioned to assume a leadership role in different circumstances, but overall, the greatest impact results from all three working in concert.
    • Principle: The partnership aims to be informed and supported by the private sector, but incorporates the non-profit and public sector at all stages as well.
    • While tax bases and municipal borders have clearly drawn boundaries, the fortunes of Lawrence and its residents is inextricably linked with that of its immediate neighbors and the overall region.
    • Principle: The partnership will engage regional entities and view them as our partners, recognizing them as employers of our workforce, customers of our businesses, and beneficiaries of our success.
    • The diverse make-up of our residents and the City’s commitment to inclusivity have been core to Lawrence’s identity and a primary key to its success, historically as well as today.
    • Principle: The Lawrence Partnership recognizes the diversity of its residents as one of its greatest assets and intends to celebrate and build upon that advantage as it develops the economy.

Our Leaders

  • We are a coalition of leaders throughout the City of Lawrence that are dedicated to working together on a shared vision of growing the Lawrence economy. To do this, we are bringing the resources of our organizations to the table, as well as a spirit of collaboration that allows us to achieve goals of a bigger magnitude than any one entity could accomplish alone.
    • Executive Committee
    • Board of Directors
    • Ex-Officio Members
    • Loan Fund Steering Committee
    • Advisors
      • In addition to the governing body of the Partnership, our work is supported and fueled by a broader coalition of local business and civic leaders who share our commitment to Lawrence and our approach to build an inclusive economic development model from the ground up. The Advisory committee convenes twice a year at times participate in working groups and subcommittees of the Partnership, lending their expertise and networks to our programming.
      • To learn more or get involved, contact Derek Mitchell at dmitchell@lawrencepartnership.org
    • Leaders in and around Lawrence

Our Work

  • Our work is multifaceted, as is any growing economy. Above all, we are investing in our people: nurturing small business owners, designing training and career paths for our residents, partnering with leaders around the Merrimack Valley to catalyze economic development, as well as create opportunities and other innovative projects.
  • Multi-Year Initiatives
    • We have many projects in process, ranging from complex multi-year initiatives to short-term solutions. We consistently aim to identify and scope new possibilities with the potential to bring significant expansion of opportunities to our residents, as well as the economy of Lawrence.
    • Workforce
      • The Training Consortium’s mission is to connect regional employers with the talent they need to fuel growth. A demand-driven initiative, we have identified the most urgent needs of local industries, and is currently building training and career paths for area residents to target hard-to-fill jobs.

Small Business

  • Small Business Connector
    • Looking to start or grow your business in Lawrence? Connect with these resources to access information, support, mentors and financing.
  • Venture Loan Fund
    • The Fund is comprised of 10 visionary financial institutions committing $250,000 each to create a $2.5 Million fund available for local lending
  • Revolving Test Kitchen
    • Participants in the Revolving Test Kitchen are granted a ‘golden ticket’ to trial their business model, build their capacity, understand their market, and prepare to grow into a permanent location.

Small Business Connector

  • While access to capital represents the life blood of small businesses looking to grow, good advice and technical support are the muscles and bones that allow those businesses to thrive. The Small Business Connectors—a coalition of organizations convened by the Lawrence Partnership and committed to supporting Lawrence businesses to start, stabilize and grow—provides a breadth of resources to ensure that ours is a great ecosystem for small businesses and entrepreneurs. From legal advice to business planning and accelerator programs, the small business connectors work in close coordination under the guiding principle of the broader Lawrence Partnership: that more can be accomplished working together than in isolation.
  • Why the Small Business Connector?
  • Small Business Connector Members
    • The Lawrence Small Business Coalition is built on the idea that small businesses start, grow and thrive when they are surrounded by a community of support with offerings as diversified as their needs. From business planning to financing, marketing to financial tracking, there is a breadth of expertise among coalition members that far exceeds what any single organization or individual could provide independently.
    • By working together to schedule, refer, program and align, the Small Business Coalition members are making Lawrence the most friendly for small businesses to work.
  • Massachusetts Small Business Development Center Network
    • The SBDC provides free and confidential business advice and free or low-cost business seminars to help you raise capital, start or grow your business in Massachusetts, with services in and around Lawrence. Business advising areas and seminar topics include business plans, business startups, marketing and sales, and financial management.
    • Northeast Region at Salem State University Enterprise Center
  • Mill Cities Community Investments
    • MCCI helps to start or grow businesses by assisting them in establishing or improving financial systems and records through appropriate and affordable loans.
  • Northeast Legal Aid
    • Northeast Legal Aid’s Community Development and Entrepreneurship Practice offers free transactional legal services to low income entrepreneurs and small businesses in Northern Middlesex and Essex counties.
  • EforAll
    • EforAll Lowell-Lawrence serves English speaking entrepreneurs, top help them move their ideas forward through a cohort based program involving mentors and experts.
  • EparaTodos
    • EparaTodos Lawrence-Lowell, working entirely in Spanish, helps entrepreneurs and small business owners to succeed with their ideas through a group-based curriculum involving mentors and experts.
  • Merrimack Valley Small Business Center
    • Community Teamwork’s Merrimack Valley Small Business Center (MVSBC) provides entrepreneurs with tools to help them start and grow viable small businesses. Key services include business planning, marketing, financial management, and strategic planning. The MVSBC also provides financial support and credit building services though low-interest microloans up to $50,000.
  • City of Lawrence Economic Development Office
    • Services provided by City’s Econ. Dev. Office include but are not limited to:
    • 1) Sit selection assistance
    • 2) Assistance with City Hall / permitting (zoning, Inspectional Services, Building Inspection, LFD and Electrical Inspection)
    • 3) Assist business owners / managers with outreach for job opportunities
    • 4) Help businesses access federal incentive programs, such as SBA HUBzone

Venture Loan Fund

  • Intro
    • While many small and start up-businesses may have a hard time accessing traditional financing, we believe that many of them represent sound investments. Additionally, by investing in small businesses, we are also investing in their local supply chains, their employees and landlords. We are helping to build wealth locally and contributing to the virtuous cycle of commerce.
    • But these investments are only made possible through a shared commitment on behalf of a number of financial institutions and through their ability to work in concert to achieve a shared goal: more businesses starting and growing in Lawrence.
    • The Fund is comprised of 10 visionary financial institutions committing $250,000 each to create a $2.5 Million fund available for local lending (see full listing below). The City of Lawrence provides a 10% loan loss reserve to the fund and the program is administered by a local community development financial institution, Mill Cities Community Investments. Anchored by private capital and completed through close collaboration among other core partners, the Venture Loan Fund represents what is possible through a shared vision and a shared investment.
    • Loan recipients also benefit from additional technical assistance provided by MCCI and other partners that are part of the Lawrence Small Business Connectors.
  • Program Guidelines
    • The Venture Loan Fund is intended to provide flexible, low cost financing to support a variety of business needs. It can be used for design work, construction, equipment purchase, inventory, and working capital; it can be used in collaboration with other other traditional financing or it can be stand-alone financing; it can support established or new business starts. But it can only support businesses in Lawrence. There is no minimum loan amount for the Venture Loan Fund, but each loan has a ceiling of $100,000.
  • How to Apply
    • A full loan application is required to apply for funding, but you can receive support in gathering together the required material required, including business planning support, through MCCI. To learn more and initiate your loan application, contact:
  • Required Documents to Apply
    • MCCI Loan application
    • Personal financial statement
    • If new venture (start-up /less than 2 years operations) business plan including financial projections
    • If existing business, plan and financial projections for new location
    • Principal(s) resume*
    • Two years tax returns (principals)
    • Two years business tax returns (existing)
    • Estimate or invoices for proposed use of funds
    • ​*Principals are considered anyone with a 10% or better interest in the business.
    • DOWNLOADS
      • Small Business Application
      • Personal Financial Statement

Workforce

  • The Training Consortium
    • The Training Consortium’s mission is to connect regional employers with the talent they need to fuel growth. With a healthy, trained workforce, businesses can grow and employment opportunities can surge, fueling economic opportunity throughout the region.
    • A demand-driven initiative, the Training Consortium has identified the most urgent needs of local industries, and is currently building training and career paths for area residents to target hard-to-fill jobs.
  • Background
    • Background
    • The correlation is clear between the competitive advantage of businesses and the quality of workforce they can access. The Training Consortium is addressing issues of critical importance throughout the Commonwealth and United States, with an understanding that, while the issues may persist at huge scales, the details and solutions must be understood at a local level.
    • Our work was initiated in 2016 when the Lawrence Partnership surveyed regional employers to better understand their hiring needs as an initial step to filling the ‘skills gap’. The initial findings of this report and ideas for immediate intervention are captured in the Training Consortium’s initial report, published in the summer of 2016. Read the report HERE.
    • While this project is ultimately a multi-year endeavor and will be iterative in how we understand and define the challenges and opportunities of a dynamic environment for developing a workforce well aligned with changes skill needs, we are committed to the principles of action simultaneous to ongoing research. Our pilot projects represent industry focused approaches that create new career pathways and pipelines for middle skills jobs through an alignment of interest on behalf of multiple businesses working in close concert with key training providers.
  • Current Pilot Projects
  • Healthcare Pipeline
    • The most prominent are of overlapping need and opportunity in our region is within the healthcare field. With more jobs projected to be created and at higher wages than any other sector over the next 10 years, healthcare represents a unique area through which increase alignment of training programs will dramatically increase the opportunity for upward mobility for area residents and competitiveness of regional employers.
    • What we have uncovered, however, is that new training programs ALONE cannot fill this gap; what is required is an integrated approach that is built from employer commitment to hire and advance, flexibility and adaptation of existing training programs to support individuals simultaneously working and accessing advanced training; and coordination among various providers to meet dynamic needs of area residents to access the required credentials and degrees to meet employer need.
    • Our current programming is aimed at creating pathways to living wage careers that are accessible to area residents. Specific steps in that process, include:
      • Creating a new pipeline of Medical Assistants, Home Health Care Aids, and CNAs, targeting un and underemployed populations and dual enrollment programs with Lawrence High School
      • Creating new incentives and opportunities for MA, CNA, HHA candidates to access additional credentials, including LPN, Community Health Worker
      • Develop the infrastructure, relationships, and value proposition that will allow for future development of advancement to RN and other bachelor level positions, specifically in partnership with new Communiversity partners like Regis College
    • LEAD EMPLOYERS:
  • Manufacturing Pipeline
    • The demand for workers who can trouble-shoot and perform routine maintenance on complex, high technology equipment is growing for a large host of regional employers spanning a variety of traditional industries. A worker at Yaskawa-Solectria Solar with industrial electricity skills might need to determine a voltage range to a 1.5 DC/AC ratio; then log onto a computer terminal to conduct a remote firmware upgrade. An operator at Hans Kissle might need to trouble-shoot one of the thermal ovens, while her counterpart at Magellan Aerospace conducts maintenance on a 3-axis milling machine. Mechatronics has applications across nearly every sector, from food manufacturing to aerospace, medical devices, and construction. Job titles include installers, maintenance/repair, operator, machinist, industrial electrician, and solar engineer. According to the state’s Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development, over 3,000 jobs will be vacant and must be filled to meet the demands of manufacturing companies over the next three to five years.
    • For the emerging hybrid skill set of Mechatronics, the Training Consortium aims to
      • Articulate the shared skill need among a number of disparate companies
      • Leverage state and local resources to acquire the necessary training equipment and develop new curriculum to train new and incumbent workers
      • Operationalize a new pipeline of cross trained workers to support regional employers
    • Management Pipeline
      • Companies can only achieve productivity and revenue goals by managing their work processes and managing their workforce toward productivity growth. As one company leader said “We cannot grow our business without great staffing.” Yet, as a hiring challenges survey by The Lawrence Partnership revealed, 68 percent of respondents expressed concern about future hiring challenges, especially for management positions, which in the survey ranked as the second hardest position to fill. Companies would prefer to promote from within, but are unable to do so, due to the lack of supervisory and management skills among their incumbent workforce. As a consequence, the survey revealed, companies are spending significant dollars on overtime wages, hiring temporary workers, investing more in recruiting, and simply leaving management positions open.
      • ​To address this region-wide problem, NECC proposes to offer a noncredit Certificate Program in Supervisory/Management Skills that will provide trainees with the knowledge and skills needed to qualify for, compete for, and advance to management-level positions. The twelve courses, plus a summary session, focus on the set of core skills and knowledge that an individual needs to be an effective manager and/or supervisor in today’s technology-driven, global market place and to lead a strong, productive team.
      • ​The Direct Access supervisor/management training program will address the business goal of increased productivity and the problem of companies’ inability to promote current workers into management positions. Each of the courses in the Supervisory/Management training program focuses on 10 elements common to the job of a manager:
        • Effective Supervisory Skills Building & the Job of Supervisor introduces the potential manager to role a manager/supervisor plays in an organization.
        • Understanding Behavior Styles, Managing Personnel Issues, and Training & Evaluations relate directly to the manager’s role interacting directly with individual staff members.
        • Leading the Team, Creating a Climate for Motivation, and Maintaining a Productive Work Environment highlights the manager’s role in leading the whole team.
        • Developing Administrative Skills, Fostering Public Relations, Using Technology, and Budgeting provide potential managers with the technical skills needed to lead a unit or department.
        • Communications, Coaching, Counseling, and Change helps the new supervisor/manager to ideas, guidance, and instructions across to staff.

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