For Immediate Release - January 13, 2016

Baker-Polito Administration Unveils Urban Agenda Grant Winners

Grants will empower local communities to meet local needs

Boston – Today, Governor Charlie Baker and Lt. Governor Karyn Polito announced the inaugural round of awards from the Commonwealth’s Urban Agenda Grant Program, a new grant program that seeks to unlock community-driven responses to local economic opportunities through partnership-building, problem-solving, and shared accountability. The awards, totaling $3 million in grant funding, will fund 16 economic development, planning, and housing development initiatives, across 13 communities.

“The focus of our urban agenda is community empowerment across the Commonwealth, to meet local needs with locally driven solutions,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “The partnerships that have formed in response to this new program will be essential to building leadership, collaboration, and capacity, while creating economic opportunities in the short term, and building a foundation for long-lasting economic development in our urban communities.”

“Urban Agenda grants build on our administration’s commitment to empowering communities,” said Lieutenant Governor Polito. “By supporting community-driven responses to local economic opportunities, this grant program will help transform urban neighborhoods.”

“By engaging cities and community-based organizations around local economic assets, urban agenda grants will help communities unlock dynamic growth,” said Housing and Economic Development Secretary Jay Ash.

“Multi-family housing development strengthens communities,” said Housing and Community Development Undersecretary Chrystal Kornegay. “By funding hard-to-finance soft costs, Urban Agenda Housing Program grants support the revitalization of vacant and underutilized publicly-owned land, and advance our mission to create vibrant communities.”

The Commonwealth’s Urban Agenda promotes economic vitality and cultivates safer, stronger urban neighborhoods and communities throughout Massachusetts. The Urban Agenda grant program seeks to advance vibrant communities, and unlock economic mobility for residents, through community-based partnerships that address workforce development, entrepreneurship, and mixed-income housing development. The inaugural round of the grant program received 54 applications, requesting a total of $12.7 million in funding, from both Gateway Cities and non-Gateway communities of varying sizes. The grant program made awards to three types of projects: economic development implementation grants, economic development planning grants, and housing grants.

Urban Agenda Economic Development Implementation grants will empower urban communities to advance employment and economic opportunity by providing flexible grant funding that supports creative local partnerships and capitalizes on local economic opportunities. The Urban Agenda Economic Development Implementation grant program challenged urban neighborhoods across Massachusetts to form partnerships that leverage existing economic assets, target specific workforce populations, define their economic development and quality of life goals, and then deliver on those goals.

Urban Agenda Planning and Technical Assistance grants will be used by communities to bring residents and other stakeholders together for a facilitated process to identify opportunities for shared work on quality-of-life issues, and to build coalitions and social capital within the community.

Urban Agenda Housing Program grants will assist municipalities in expanding housing opportunities by supporting predevelopment and soft costs related to the construction of multi-family housing, with a particular emphasis on housing opportunities that leverage vacant or under-utilized publicly-owned land.



Urban Agenda Economic Development Implementation Grants:

Boston - $225,000

Madison Park Development Corporation will partner with Boston Education, Skills & Training (BEST) Corp., a nonprofit workforce development organization focused on training Boston residents for jobs in the hospitality industry, to create a new hospitality training facility in Dudley Square.

Boston - $200,000

The Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative will partner with CommonWealth Kitchen, Project Hope, and the Local Enterprise Assistance Fund (LEAF) to launch a local food manufacturing initiative that will grow small businesses and create food manufacturing jobs in Dorchester and Roxbury.

Framingham - $125,000

The South Middlesex Opportunity Council (SMOC), in partnership with SMOC Financial Services, the Town of Framingham, Framingham Downtown Renaissance, Framingham State University, MetroWest Legal Services, Middlesex Savings Bank, MutualOne Bank, MassBay Community College, the MetroWest Chamber of Commerce, and the Brazil New England Chamber of Commerce, will launch a one-stop microenterprise center that will boost entrepreneurship and the growth of startups by low- and moderate-income Framingham residents.

Greenfield and North Adams - $200,000

The communities of Greenfield and North Adams will spur downtown revitalization and deepen community-based entrepreneurship through a coordinated program of small business training, mentorship, business succession planning, and capital access. The grant will implement priority opportunities outlined in the Sustainable Berkshires and Sustainable Franklin County regional plans.

Holyoke - $250,000

The Greater Holyoke Chamber Centennial Foundation will partner with the City of Holyoke, the Holyoke Public Library, Nuestras Raices, SCORE, and Holyoke Works to deepen Holyoke’s entrepreneurial ecosystem by facilitating the development of affordable workspaces for entrepreneurs, expand the city’s SPARK entrepreneurship program, and facilitate the streamlining of Holyoke’s local business permitting processes. Holyoke’s Urban Agenda program will be targeted at building entrepreneurship among Latino residents, and builds off existing economic development partnerships through the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston’s Working Cities Challenge, and MassDevelopment’s Transformative Development Initiative.

Lawrence - $250,000

The Lawrence Working Families Initiative will scale up an existing Working Cities Challenge partnership aimed at long-term building prosperity among low-income Latino parents of Lawrence Public Schools students, by operationalizing Lawrence employers’ local hiring and commitments, implementing new job recruitment and internal promotion programs, and extending job coaching, skills training, job placement, and professional mentorship supports to low-income residents. The Initiative’s partners are Lawrence Community Works, the Lawrence Partnership, the Lawrence Public Schools, the City of Lawrence, ValleyWorks Career Center, The Community Group, Northern Essex Community College, Notre Dame Education Center, the Adult Learning Center, the Greater Lawrence Family Health Center, and the Family and Community Resource Center of Family Services, Inc.

New Bedford - $200,000

The New Bedford Housing Authority and PACE YouthBuild New Bedford will partner to create a vocational skills center that will provide career assessment, educational opportunities, and vocational training to residents of the city’s public housing. The program aims to address chronic unemployment and underemployment among city residents by equipping them with the skills necessary to enter and advance in the workforce.

Somerville - $200,000

The City of Somerville and the Somerville Public Schools, in collaboration with Sprout & Co., TechHub Boston, the Artisan’s Asylum, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Fab Foundation, will launch a fabrication laboratory at Somerville High School. The “fab lab” will host a vocational-technical fabrication academy, an evening adult workforce development program, and a youth entrepreneurship and mentorship program that will connect lower-income youth to the innovation economy. The project builds off the city’s previous work, through the Working Cities Challenge, to create economic mobility for lower-income residents.

Worcester - $200,000

The Downtown Worcester Access to Employment Partnership will create a new employment training and support program, aimed at creating employment pipelines in the health care, transportation, and food service sectors. The partnership will reduce barriers to employment for low-income families, veterans, and unemployed and under-employed youth. The Partnership will be led by the Central Massachusetts Workforce Investment Board, the City of Worcester, the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce, Quinsigamond Community College, the Worcester Community Connections Coalition, the WMCA of Central Massachusetts, the Worcester Youth Center, the Worcester Community Action Council, Veterans Inc., and Ascentria Care Alliance.


Urban Agenda Economic Development Planning Grants:

Brockton - $50,000

Brockton’s Urban Agenda planning grant will fund feasibility studies and business plan development for three downtown entrepreneurship projects: a restaurant incubator, a community kitchen and food incubator, and a co-work space. The planning grant builds on previous downtown redevelopment planning by the City and MassDevelopment’s Transformative Development Initiative.

Springfield - $50,000

Springfield’s Urban Agenda planning grant will fund a collaborative planning process in the City’s North End neighborhood. The planning process will address quality-of-life issues for North End residents, support the work of the North End Campus Coalition, and build neighborhood social capital to promote economic and workforce development.

Winthrop - $50,000

Winthrop’s Urban Agenda planning grant will fund a comprehensive master planning process for the Town’s main commercial district, and a reuse plan for a former middle school parcel that will unlock future economic development in the Town.


Urban Agenda Housing Program Grants:

Boston - $300,000

The City of Boston’s Department of Neighborhood Development will utilize a $300,000 Urban Agenda Housing Program grant to advance the redevelopment of the Indigo Block, an under-utilized city-owned parcel in Uphams Corner. Dorchester Bay Economic Development Corporation, Boston Capital, and Escazu Development will transform the site into 88 new housing units for low-, moderate-, and middle-income residents, and 20,000 square feet of light industrial space. The grant will finance a range of predevelopment activities at the project site.

Boston - $300,000

The Boston Housing Authority will utilize a $300,000 Urban Agenda Housing Program grant to advance the redevelopment of the BHA’s Amory Street Apartments site. The Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Corporation, Urban Edge, and The Community Builders are constructing 294 units of new mixed-income housing on the 6-acre site, and rehabilitating 215 units of existing housing for elderly and disabled residents. The grant will finance a range of predevelopment activities at the project site.

Holyoke - $150,000

The Holyoke Redevelopment Authority will utilize a $150,000 Urban Agenda Housing Program grant to advance the redevelopment of 1.5 acres of vacant and underutilized city-owned real estate in South Holyoke. The grant will finance a range of predevelopment activities at the project site, as the Redevelopment Authority engages a qualified master developer.

Lynn - $250,000

The Lynn Housing Authority and Neighborhood Development (LHAND) will utilize a $250,000 Urban Agenda Housing Program grant to advance the second phase of the City’s Washington Street Gateway redevelopment. The grant will finance a range of predevelopment activities that will enable the construction of 20 new market-rate housing units.