A Collaborative Corridor

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With so many recent tales of innovation and entrepreneurship success stories, there certainly is a lot happening along Route 3.

And since 2012, the Middlesex 3 Coalition has been a key contributor to that activity in the City of Lowell and our neighboring towns of Bedford, Billerica, Burlington, Chelmsford, Lexington, Tewksbury, Tyngsborough and Westford.  The coalition communities share a common goal of fostering economic development, job growth and retention, diversification of  the tax base and enhancement of quality of life.  Members include stakeholders in local government, business, finance, education and development who have  combined resources to promote the competitive advantages of the region and advance the economic vitality of the corridor.

mayorThe Middlesex 3 Coalition held their first “What’s Happening in Middlesex 3” meeting of 2019 at UMass Lowell’s Innovation Hub on Thursday, January 10th.  These monthly events provide a chance for the membership of Middlesex 3 to learn about updates on the goings on in each of the nine member communities.

Mayor William Samaras was on hand to both welcome guests to the city as well as tout the recent advancements in the Hamilton Canal Innovation District, noting that 110 Canal St was now officially 100 percent occupied, that Winn Development was progressing on their mixed use buildings–the first new private new construction in the district, the installation of the signature bridge that will allow for travel between both sides of the canal, and of course the continuing construction of the massive Lowell Judicial Center.

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While economic development is sometimes looked at as a competition among municipalities, the truth is each city and town still has to exist within a larger regional ecosystem.  The collaborative approach taken by Middlesex 3 helps ensure that communities and cross-community stakeholders work as partners in developing the entire Route 3 corridor.

“In Lowell we know that public-private partnerships are a most important part of our success” the Mayor noted during his remarks, “By us working together, we will all be stronger and have a better future.”

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Middlesex 3’s executive director, Stephanie Cronin provided the guests with a brief overview of the organization.

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UMass Lowell’s Vice Provost for Innovation and Workforce Development, Steve Tello and Associate Vice Chancellor, Industry Partnerships & Economic Development Arlene Parquette discussed new initiatives for corporate partnerships with the university, including a tour of the medical device incubator M2D2, the technology accelerator in the Innovation Hub, and the new Fabric Discovery Center, a collaborative research center for development and testing of smart materials.

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Guests also heard a presentation on Entrepreneurship for All (EforAll) by Lianna Kushi, the executive director of EforAll’s Lowell-Lawrence location.  Founded in 2011 as the Merrimack Valley Sandbox, EforAll is a non-profit organization who is accelerating economic and social impact through entrepreneurship in mid-sized cities.  As noted on this blog, several EforAll graduates have opened new businesses in Lowell in recent years.  Mayor Samaras is scheduled to visit EforAll later this month.

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The M3 coalition recently hosted a similar event at Middlesex Community College’s new Donahue Academic Arts Center back in October, which was attended by Lowell City Council Vice Chairman, Vesna Nuon.  The October meeting featured updates on important transportation and infrastructure projects ongoing in the City of Lowell.

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What’s Happening in Middlesex 3/October 2018 w/ Vice Chair Vesna Nuon

m3kickoffThe Middlesex 3 Coalition was launched in October 2012 as a new type of nonprofit organization supported by the Massachusetts Office of Housing and Economic Development that would bring together a wide range of stakeholders including municipal leaders, colleges and universities, as well as real-estate professionals and nonprofit organizations.

Originally consisting of five communities (Burlington, Bedford, Billerica, Chelmsford and Lowell), the group has now expanded along the highway as far north as Tyngsborough and south as Lexington.  Former City Manager Bernie Lynch was one of the founding board members of the group and continues to support the effort as a sponsor and emeritus board member.

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Bernie Lynch at Middlesex 3 (Photo Credit: Jen Myers)

The wide range of projects that Middlesex 3 has undertaken have included efforts to improve infrastructure, obtain grants, streamline permitting, identify available parcels for development and advocate for economic development legislation.  The group has also hosted roundtable and panel discussions on important regional public policy topics including the North South Rail Link.  The 2013 Small Business Resource Fair hosted by Middlesex 3 at CrossPoint was featured in the original Room 50 blog.

In 2016, the City of Lowell and seven other Middlesex 3 communities entered into a community compact with the Baker Administration to look into transportation issues along the corridor.

The core values of Middlesex 3 are:

  • Regional collaboration to benefit the communities
  • Commitment to quality of life, education, employment opportunities and diversity for our residents
  • Sustainability
  • Commitment to education
  • Thought leadership
  • Alignment of business goals with community goals
  • Receptivity and customer service

With a focus on regionalization, transportation, and economic development, Middlesex 3’s mission truly aligns with many of the priorities that Mayor Samaras has sought to champion during his term in office.   To learn more about the Middlesex 3 Coalition be sure to check out www.middlesex3.com/ 

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