The Fernald Center Re-envisioned

July 10th, 2014 by Steve Laferriere

Earlier this year, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts announced a proposal to sell the Fernald Center to the City of Waltham. The approximately 190-acre site is still home to six residents, but has been slated to close since 2003.

The site has served the public since it opened in 1848 and has historically been a supportive home and therapeutic institution for folks with developmental disabilities or mental illnesses, orphans and the homeless. Metro West Collaborative Development and the Fernald Working Group, a coalition of Waltham organizations, believe the site can continue to serve people with a range of incomes and abilities, if the State and City elected officials focus on maximizing the goals and visions of local residents. Metro West CD has been supporting the Fernald Working Group as it develops a community-based plan for the reuse of the Fernald Center site.

At its peak in the 1960’s, the Fernald Center was home to 2,600 residents. It is the largest potentially developable tract of land within Route 128, and according to Metro West CD and the Working Group, it represents the most significant opportunity in our lifetime to meet several social and economic needs, given that it is publicly owned. Both organizations believe the transfer of the property from the Commonwealth to the City of Waltham should require the City to engage its residents in a robust and comprehensive planning process to ensure the best possible redevelopment of the site.

The Fernald Working Group vision calls for increased open space, housing for a range of incomes and abilities, restoration of some of the services and resources that used to exist on site, increased transit options and more. The Fernald Working Group envisions permanently preserving the portion of the Western Greenway that goes through the property, and daylighting the stream that is now in underground pipes running from the northwest corner of the property, south through the center of the campus. Existing buildings may be renovated to preserve the history of the site and complemented with modern, environmentally sustainable structures to create a small village in between the Western Greenway and the stream. A new “village” neighborhood might be attractive to residents with a range of incomes and abilities, who could be drawn to the recreational and service amenities on-site and therefore be less reliant on cars.

Metro West Collaborative Development is proud to support the Fernald Working Group as it looks forward to working with the City of Waltham to ensure that the Fernald Center continues to serve the public good in perpetuity. 

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Community Development Mentors Needed!

July 9th, 2014 by

Build your network, share your expertise!

The Alliance's Mentoring Program (administered by MACDC and CHAPA) is designed to promote and support a culture of learning within the community development field. The program enhances the preparation of professionals who demonstrate leadership potential, by facilitating effective and meaningful relationships between and amongst community development professionals.

The program is currently looking for mentors, who will meet with their matched mentee on a monthly basis. Mentors are asked to attend an orientation session and will be awarded two days of training, tuition free, through the Mel King Institute. The Mentoring Program orientation is currently scheduled for September 2014. 

If you are interested in becoming a mentor, please use this link to apply. Click here to view the program brochure, which includes important upcoming dates and details. 

For more information about The Mentoring Program or The Alliance, please contact Shirronda Almeida


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CTI and Merrimack Valley Small Business Center Help Fund Start-ups

July 9th, 2014 by

On Friday, June 27, the Merrimack Valley Small Business Center (MVSBC), a program of Community Teamwork, announced that it had been designated as an intermediary for the SBA (Small Business Administration) Microloan Program, with approval for $200,000 in loan funds to support small businesses throughout the Merrimack Valley. 

“Local small businesses now have an additional access point for SBA microloans and the technical assistance this program offers,” said SBA District Director Bob Nelson. “This is excellent news for small businesses and for the local economy and we are confident that the Merrimack Valley Small Business Center is going to be a phenomenal resource.”

The MVSBC approved its first SBA-funded microloan to the Food Train, a Haverhill-based startup business and the first food truck operation to be established in Haverhill. Slated to open this month, Food Train owners Thomas and Tiffany Bell have been working with the MVSBC staff since early 2014 to complete a thorough business plan and loan application, which was approved in May in the amount of $14,000.   

“When Thomas and I were turned down by multiple banks for conventional loans to start our business, we turned to the MVSBC. From our very first meeting, we knew that finally we were working with people who believed in us and our dream,” said Tiffany.

MVSBC Director Liliana Kualapai and Haverhill Mayor James Fiorentini both expressed their thanks to the SBA Microloan Program for supporting the Bell family’s dream and helping sustain local small businesses. In addition to Director Kualapai and Mayor Fiorentini, other officials on hand to publicize and celebrate this program included Congresswoman Niki Tsongas, Deputy District Director Anne Hunt of the Small Business Administration, Community Teamwork Executive Director Karen Frederick, and State Representative Linda Dean Campbell.

“In order to boost job growth and continue growing our economy, we need to invest in creative ways to help America’s small businesses,” said Congresswoman Tsongas. “I have long supported federal programs like the SBA’s microloans because they can accomplish this goal through effective public/private partnerships. With this federal support, the Merrimack Valley Small Business Center and Community Teamwork will further their important mission to support the local small business community. By pinpointing and addressing the differing needs of the many small businesses across our region, we can keep our local economy on an upwards path.”

“Thomas and Tiffany Bell of Haverhill’s Food Train are just the type of determined entrepreneurs this support is meant for, to help them make their dream a reality. There are so many inventive companies clustered throughout the Third District developing imaginative and state-of-the-art products and services in myriad industries. With federal, public and private support, we can ensure they don’t just remain competitive, but remain business and innovations leaders.”

For more information about Community Teamwork's programs, please visit their website

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SEED Makes Two Loans to Small Businesses in Plymouth

July 9th, 2014 by Angela Knight

The South Eastern Economic Development (SEED) Corporation has recently closed on two small business loans, totaling $414,000 to New England Fire and Police Supply, and ServPro of Plymouth/Wareham. The loans will allow these businesses to start-up, expand and create six new jobs.

ServPro of Plymouth/Wareham received a $404,000 loan under the SBA 504 Program for the purpose of expanding their business with an additional 6,100 square feet, a project which will create five new jobs. The lending team on the project was Lisa Holmes from SEED and Ashley Irez of Eastern Bank, which was also participating in the financing project.

"My initial contact with Lisa Holmes and everything that led to out closing was seamless," stated Ken Matejek, owner of ServPro Plymouth/Wareham. "I would recommend them to anyone looking to purchase commercial real estate."

ServPro of Plymouth/Wareham was started in 2009 by Ken and Rebecca Matejek and is a franchise of ServPro Industries, Inc. The company specializes in the cleanup and restoration of residential and commercial properties after fire, smoke, or water damage. ServPro of Plymouth/Wareham provides service 24 hours a day and has large teams to handle natural disasters and commercial disaster recovery projects. In 2012, Ken and Rebecca were recognized by ServPro Industries for achieving $1,000,000 in revenues. 

New England Fire and Police Supply received a $10,000 loan from SEED that will provide working capital to the company during its start-up phase. The loan will also create one full-time job within the next two years. The lender from SEED was Tamarah Bacon.

New England Fire and Police Supply was started as an online retail business in 2012 and opened its retail location in March of 2013. The company is currently owned by US Navy war veteran Anthony Colarusso and specializes in uniforms and equipment for police, firefighters, and EMS personnel. The company also offers in-house alteration, customized embroidery and heat press. New England Fire and Police Supply is the only retail company of its kind in the greater Plymouth area. 

Under the SBA 504 Program, SEED can provide up to 40 percent of the financing needed behind a bank for the purchase of buildings and equipment with a life of 10 years. SEED's portion can range from $120,000 to $5 million for most small businesses, and $5.5 million for manufacturing businesses, at a fixed interest rate below market for 20 years, currently five percent. SEED can also lend up to $200,000 for working capital and other uses. The term on the loans is up to 10 years with longer repayment periods, if necessary. Interest rates range from five to six percent, depending on whether there is bank participation.

SEED Corporation is a nonprofit economic development organization certified in 1982 by the U.S. Small Business Administration. SEED is also a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) under the U.S. Department of the Treasury. Under various programs, SEED makes loans from $1,000 up to $5.5 million to assist small businesses to grow and create jobs throughout the region. For more information about the SBA 504 Program and other SEED loan programs, please visit their website


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