Lawrence Partnership convenes hundreds of regional stakeholders for third annual event


The Lawrence Partnership held its third annual event in the historic Wood Mill on Thursday, convening a packed house of nearly 400 local and regional business and community leaders to continue the conversation about the economic renewal in the City of Lawrence. 

The speaking program, featuring community and business leaders and keynoted by Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito, offered an update on the collaborative programming that the Lawrence Partnership has spearheaded over the last year and insight into work that will be a priority for the group in the coming year.  “The recognition that we can accomplish so much more for our community by working together is what drives this group of CEO’s, elected officials, and community leaders to engage in this truly collaborative work,” shared Derek Mitchell, the Executive Director of the Lawrence Partnership.  “And the commitment to prioritize an economic development strategy that lifts all boats is what makes this a process that so many can benefit from and throw their support behind.”

Sal Lupoli, the President and CEO of Lupoli Companies and Vice-Chair of the Lawrence Partnership Board took advantage of the full room to announce the launch of the Revolving Test Kitchen, a new project that he had a large hand in bringing to life. Located on the first floor of 420 Common Street, Lawrence, the Revolving Test Kitchen will be an incubator for local entrepreneurs who want to open a restaurant but aren’t quite ready to do that on their own.  Through the program, a food-based entrepreneur will receive free rent in a fully built-out cafe, access to flexible financing and a host of technical support.

Lupoli, who started his successful career as the founder of Sal’s Pizza has offered both personal mentorship to the first entrepreneur of the Revolving Test Kitchen, Ray Gonzales of Coco Ray’s, as well as donating over $300,000 worth of equipment to get the program, which has a grand opening on December 1, off the ground.  “The Revolving Test Kitchen will be a unique opportunity to provide food-based entrepreneurs in the city the opportunity to take their ideas, work ethic and innovative spirit to the next level,” said Lupoli.

Support for small businesses received additional attention with the announcement of the creation of the ‘Small Business Connectors’ a coalition of service providers convened by the Lawrence Partnership committed to serving small businesses in Lawrence and the expansion of the Lawrence Venture Loan Fund to $2.5 million from its $1 Million pilot project last year.

Mayor Daniel Rivera endorsed the program, indicating that, “the businesses that are growing through support from this loan fund are the cornerstone of our economy, as they are creating jobs and opportunities right here in Lawrence.  It is an incredible resource for the city.”

The ability to support regional businesses while also creating upward mobility for local residents was a resonant theme of the day, marking perhaps the most ambitious of the projects that the Lawrence Partnership promoted at the event.  “The Training Consortium aims to align the robust and committed training and educational resources in the city with the dynamic hiring needs of our community’s largest employers”, indicated Lane Glenn, the President of Northern Essex Community College and Chair of the Lawrence Partnership Board.  “The unique pipelines in healthcare and manufacturing we are piloting here in Lawrence represent the future of how our workforce system should work.  We are proud to be initiating this work here and are eager for the impacts it generates for our residents and businesses alike.”

Lieutenant Governor Polito expressed similar commitment to the work that is happening through the Lawrence Partnership and pledged statewide support to seeing the initiatives that come from the group’s activity get to scale.  “We are so proud of the work that is happening here through this incredible Partnership,” claimed Lt. Governor Polito.  “In just a short amount of time so much by bringing leaders together with public/private partnerships that are vital tools in reinvigorating economic opportunities in gateway cities and beyond.”

The Lawrence Partnership continues to promote itself as a work in progress, a group that is committed to creating a culture of collaboration while also being a catalyst for transformative projects and programming.  It invites applications for funding through its Venture Loan Fund, additional partners for its healthcare and manufacturing pipelines, and broad-based participation in its challenge campaign to raise $25,000 by the end of the year to invest in the next phase of the Training Consortium.  To learn more and get involved, go to