New Year, New Culinary Options in the Mill City


It has often been said that you can dine around the world just by walking down the street in Lowell.  Two new businesses celebrating their ribbon cuttings this week certainly served as a case in point.


State Senator/City Councilor Edward Kennedy

On Thursday, February 7th, State Senator, City Councilor, and Former Mayor Edward Kennedy joined the city’s economic development office and representatives from the Chamber of Commerce the ribbon cuttings at Panela Restaurant (7 Hanover St) and Powerhouse Juice (120 Merrimack St).

Kennedy, who attended many a ribbon cutting during his time as mayor, showed he still knows how to expertly wield a pair of over-sized scissors.



First up was Panela, a new Colombian eatery tucked away on Hanover St (a short street alongside the Western Canal between Market and Merrimack Streets).  Although it can be easy to miss, particularly with the ongoing construction work on the canal and the Market St bridge, Panela is truly a hidden gem in Lowell’s Acre neighborhood.

DSC_0502The restaurant’s name is inspired by panela, unrefined whole cane sugar, which is a staple of Colombian cooking.   Fittingly, panela is one of the top ingredients in their offerings which provides a modern take on the traditional flavors of Colombia.

The brother-sister co-owners of the restaurant, Juan Acevedo and Viviana Duque were both students of Joyce Samaras, the mayor’s wife, at Lowell High School.


Viviana Duque and Juan Acevedo talk to Maria Dickinson of the Economic Development Office

The walls of Panela are adorned with beautiful murals inspired by Colombia.


Senator Kennedy presented the owners and staff at Panela with a citation from Mayor William Samaras, congratulating them on their new business in Lowell’s vibrant and historic Acre neighborhood.


Panela Restaurant is open 6 days a week (all except Monday), with early breakfast hours available on Saturday and Sunday.  Check out Panela on Facebook for more information.


After celebrating the opening of Panela, the group took the short trip down the street to 120 Merrimack St where Powerhouse Juice was also celebrating its ribbon cutting.


Powerhouse Juice is the first cold pressed, organic, and made to order juice bar in Middlesex County.  Owner Heather DeBerio and the team strive on producing one of a kind juice and smoothies using locally sourced and organic produce. Smoothies at Powerhouse Juice have no fillers, purees, ice, sorbet, ice cream, frozen yogurt and no unhealthy sweetener—just 100% pure fruits and vegetables.



The menu also includes flatbreads, salads, sandwiches and more.

DSC_0537.jpgIn Winter 2018, Powerhouse Juice enrolled in Entrepreneurship for All’s Business Accelerator program. They supplied the mocktails for guests at EforAll Lowell-Lawrence’s Locally Yours Gala in November.


EforAll Staff joined in the celebration.  Mayor Samaras visited EforAll last month

Shortly after completing the accelerator program they worked with the Lowell Economic Development office and the Lowell Plan in opening a storefront in Downtown Lowell.

They are now the third EforAll graduate to hold a ribbon cutting in the City of Lowell during the term of Mayor William Samaras.



Panela Restaurant is open 6 days a week (all except Monday), with early breakfast hours available on Saturday and Sunday.


Senator Kennedy presents the mayoral citation to Powerhouse Juice


Powerhouse Juice is open 7 days a week, Monday-Saturday from 9-5:30, and on Sunday 9-2.  For more information visit


3 Ribbon Cuttings Are Better Than One!

DSC_0965.jpgIn what is surely a great sign for the economic development in the City of Lowell, Mayor Samaras had to triple up on the ribbon cuttings recently.  On October 24th, 2018, StitchDX, POWAudio and TerraCorps, three neighbors on the fourth floor of the Offices of the Boott Mills all celebrated their respective new homes with a special ribbon cutting ceremony.  Each of the groups (two businesses and one nonprofit) chose to host the ribbon cutting together in order to celebrate their common optimism for the future.



StitchDX was created with the belief that when your team and tools work together, they will be more successful. Whether a customer needs an intranet solution or digital marketing tools, the dedicated team at StitchDX stay focused on creating integrated digital strategies for small and medium-sized businesses. Together, the pieces form a total digital experience that meets their customers’ strategic goals and grows their businesses.

POW Audio believes that music is the language that breaks barriers and connects us. So we revolutionized speaker design and made a technology worthy of sound’s transformative power. Through innovative designs and unconventional uses of simple physics, POW creates amazing listening experiences that anyone can take with them anywhere, anytime.

TerraCorps is a  501(c)3 organization focused on leadership development and capacity-building . We work at the intersection of the land trust and urban agriculture movements to create a future where land is the foundation of health and well-being for ALL people in EVERY community.  Through our work, we aim to prepare and mobilize emerging leaders to help communities gain access to and conserve land for people and nature.  We were originally founded in 2010 by Mount Grace Land Conservation Trust in Athol MA. Today,  TerraCorps is in the process of spinning off from Mount Grace to continue its work as an independent non-profit with headquarters in Lowell.


Make W.A.Y. for a New Mural


In 2016, Dave Ouellette and other members of the neighborhood group A.C.T.I.O.N. celebrated a long germinating project in the Acre section of the city.  The former Decatur Ally had been rededicated as Decatur W.A.Y. (Water, Art, and You) after a multi year collaboration of several stakeholders transformed the neglected passageway into a unique outdoor community space.

For many years Decatur Alley was overgrown with trees and brush.  In a story similar to the transformation of the North Common Ampitheatre,  the neighborhood group set its sight on revitalizing the site in 2009.  UMass Lowell’s purchase and redevelopment of the adjacent University Crossing site provided a key partner for ACTION’s efforts.


Decatur WAY was officially dedicated in a May 2016 ceremony and the 1200 foot walkway featured approximately 100 pieces of artwork including many works done by local students.  In addition to the artistic theme, the alley’s walkway served as new stormwater filtration system with porous concrete that absorbs water.


CMAA Board Members at 2016 Decatur Way Dedication: Lada Lau, Yun-Ju Choi, Bopha Malone, Sara Khun

In October 2018, Decatur WAY welcomed a new addition–“A new mural created by UMass Lowell students and alumni that reflects the vibrancy of Lowell” The mural was designed by both current students and recent graduates with the support of Art and Design Professor Stephen Mishol and History Professor Robert Forrant to be both artistic and historical.


Vesna Nuon and Patty Coffey


Vesna Nuon, Mayor Samaras, George Duncan, Jen Myers, and Yun-Ju Choi


Mayor Samaras was on hand to help dedicate the mural in a ceremony that also featured ACTION’s Dave Ouellette and UMass Lowell Chancellor Jacqueline Moloney. 



Jen Myers points out some images inspired by her photographs


Be sure to check out the mural at Decatur WAY located in between Merrimack and Salem Streets, right near University Crossing.


MassHire: New Name, Same Great Service

On September 10th, the Career Center of Lowell officially became the MassHire Career Center Lowell.  Mayor William Samaras joined Career Center and GLWIB staff,  State Representative Tom Golden, and Secretary of Labor and Workforce Development Rosalin Acosta at a ribbon cutting celebration to mark the new name.


MassHire is a new brand unifying the entire Massachusetts Workforce Development System under a single name and shared mission.


Commissioned by the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development (EOLWD), the rebranding signifies the state’s commitment to increasing meaningful career opportunities for job seekers and expanding the talent pool for businesses seeking trained, skilled employees.


MassHire Lowell Career Center’s staff remains dedicated to creating trust and reliability by consistently delivering high quality professional services for those they serve.


Enterprise Bank Ribbon Cutting


The definition of the word enterprise: a project or undertaking, typically one that is difficult or requires effort.

Three decades ago, Lowell native George Duncan put in the effort in founding a community bank with an entrepreneurial vision to help create successful businesses, opportunities, wealth and vibrant, prosperous communities.  The name of the bank,  fittingly, was Enterprise Bank.


Peter Aucella, George Duncan, Mayor William Samaras

DSC_0725defaultAs the local institution prepares to celebrate its 30th anniversary, the bank also welcomed the new addition of a newly expanded Mortgage Center at 170 Merrimack St with a ribbon cutting ceremony.

Dozens of guests attended the grand opening event in the new first floor offices including former City Councilor Kevin Broderick, former Mayor and current City Councilor Edward Kennedy, Joe Hungler of the Boys and Girls Club, and many others.


The speaking program featured remarks from the Mayor, City Manager Eileen Donoghue, and Enterprise’s Diane Silva and Jack Clancey.

Mayor Samaras presented a proclamation, announcing that August 22nd, 2018 was ENTERPRISE BANK DAY in the City of Lowell.


Whereas 30 years ago, Enterprise Bank was founded with an entrepreneurial vision to help create successful businesses, opportunities, wealth and vibrant, prosperous communities. The bank has stayed true to this vision and will always be a community bank, leading with a deep sense of mission and purpose; and

Whereas Throughout the years, Enterprise Bank’s founder, George Duncan has been a steadfast champion for the City of Lowell and a foremost contributor to the revitalization of Downtown Lowell.  In addition to the bank’s impact, George, along with his wife Carol, has contributed innumerable time, resources, and passion to numerous organizations and initiatives to improve the quality of life in our community; and

Whereas Today, the City of Lowell celebrates the opening of the Mortgage Center at Enterprise Bank.  This new center will provide a wide range of programs and services to meet the home financing needs of area families and residents.

Therefore, I,  William J. Samaras, Mayor, do hereby proclaim August 22nd, 2018 as:  “ENTERPRISE BANK DAY” in the City of Lowell in celebration of the opening of the Enterprise Bank Mortgage Center, and encourage all residents to join in the celebration

Given this 22nd day of August , 2018

Discovering New Fabrics in the HCID


The innovative birthplace of the American Textile Industrial Revolution in the 19th century will be once again at the national forefront of innovation in Textiles in the 21st century.

At least that is the hope of the overflowing capacity crowd that gathered at 110 Canal Street in the Hamilton Canal Innovation District on July 11th for the dedication of the new UMass Lowell Fabric Discovery Center.


Among the guests assembled were Governor Charlie Baker, UMass President Marty Meehan, UMass Lowell Chancellor Jacquie Moloney, City Manager Eileen Donoghue, former Mayor Ed Kennedy, and Mayor William Samaras.


mayorfabric“The Hamilton Canal Innovation District is a most fitting location for this important institution.  Lowell’s textile mills served as the birthplace of the American Industrial Revolution,” Mayor Samaras noted during his remarks. “Now, nearly 200 years later, this center shows that both the City of Lowell and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts truly do remain at the forefront of innovation in fabrics and manufacturing.”

The UMass Lowell Fabric Discovery Center (FDC) is home to the first and only site in the nation that integrates discoveries from three Manufacturing USA Innovation Institutes.  The goals of the FDC are to drive innovation in functional fabrics, boost economic competitiveness and create more high paying jobs in the region.


Available to startups, small businesses and large companies, the 28,000 square foot, two and a half floor research center located in the heart of the Hamilton Canal Innovation District.  That building at 110 Canal Street is now 100 percent occupied with M2D2 and UML Innovation Hub being the other two tenants in the building–a most important milestone in the decades long Hamilton Canal District project.

Following the speaking program, Mayor Samaras went on a tour of the new center.


A Garden of Connections


It was a collaboration in every sense of word.  Multiple partner organizations celebrated the ribbon cutting of the first Community Garden at the Headquarters of the Cambodian Mutual Assistance Association on School Street.

The garden is envisioned as an opportunity for cross-generational connections as both the youth in CMAA programming and elders in the community both participate in the planting and maintenance of the garden beds.  The garden will be used to raise crops for traditional Cambodian dishes. The dishes will be prepared by the elders with the intention of passing the knowledge to the youth.


Bringing a community garden to the CMAA was the passion project of CMAA Program and Outreach Manager, Sreypov Vary who worked diligently over many months to bring all the partners together and see the project to completion.  The project is a partnership between CMAA, Lowell High School Career Academy, CTI YouthBuild of Greater Lowell, and Mill City Grows with support by the Rotary Club of Lowell.


June 14th brought all the partner organizations, CMAA youth and elders, and members of the Lowell City Council and School Committee together for a ribbon cutting celebration. The celebration included a cookout, fresh vegetables and even some hopscotch.


Among the Lowell elected officials on hand were City Council Vice Chair Vesna Nuon, former Mayor Edward Kennedy, City Councilor Karen Cirillo, and School Committee member Dominik Lay.

DSC_0255DSC_0351 (1)DSC_0300

The mission of the Cambodian Mutual Assistance Association is to improve the quality of life for Cambodian Americans and other minorities and economically disadvantaged persons in Lowell through educational, cultural, economic and social programs. The CMAA was founded in 1984.

Founded in 2012, Mill City Grows fosters food justice by improving physical health, economic independence and environmental sustainability in Lowell through increased access to land, locally-grown food and education.

Here are a few more photos from a fun-filled ribbon cutting afternoon.

Hub of the UTEC-verse

It was in an 1858 essay in The Atlantic that Oliver Wendall Holmes coined the phrase that became one of Boston’s most enduring nicknames.

“[The] Boston State-House is the hub of the solar system. You couldn’t pry that out of a Boston man, if you had the tire of all creation straightened out for a crowbar.”

The references soon grew in scope, and the City of Boston claimed its rightful and now undisputed spot as “The Hub of the Universe.”

But there was another “Hub” in the headlines on Thursday, May 17th.  And judging by the who’s who crowd in attendance, UTEC truly took a turn as the center of the universe at the grand opening of the Nancy L. and Richard K. Donahue UTEC Hub for Social Innovation.  With a speaking portion headlined by Governor Charlie Baker and several members of his administration (Speaking of the State House), UTEC put on an opening to remember.

Ribbon Cutting

The United Teen Equality Center (UTEC), founded in 1999 and based in Lowell, was the result of an organizing movement driven by young people to develop their own teen center in response to gang violence. Today it is nationally recognized as a model agency. UTEC’s mission and promise is to ignite and nurture the ambition of proven-risk youth to trade violence and poverty for social and economic success.


15 Warren St prior to the sign unveiling

The morning’s events began with an open house of several public tours of the new UTEC space on 15 Warren St right down the street from the existing UTEC headquarters.  The tours showcased the newly renovated building that includes the 2Gen Early Education Center, Community Kitchen and the Catalyst Center, a rental space for functions, events and trainings.  Hundreds of guests including local members of the business and nonprofit community, and out of town visitors such as Suffolk County Sherriff Steve Tompkins and State Senator Jamie Eldridge of Acton eagerly checked out the new space.

Governor Baker’s tour group included Mayor William Samaras, City Manager Eileen Donoghue and City Councilor Karen Cirillo.


The group first viewed the 2Gen early education center where UTEC community members can receive free childcare for their children, supporting families in a cross generational sense.


Later, they visited the new culinary space located in the basement level of 15 Warren.  UTEC’s is the largest community kitchen in the entire Merrimack Valley.


Finally the tour group joined the assembled crowd in the 3rd floor Catalyst Center for the formal speaking program–although by formal, it was anything but the staid usual parade of talking heads.  Walk up music provided by a DJ accompanied each of the speakers as they walked up the orange, rather than red carpet, (metaphorical in this sense, although there was an actual literal orange carpet on the sidewalk leading to the tour entrances.)


After Director of Policy & Organizing Geoff Foster called the meeting to order, UTEC young adults Allen and Alexandra served as the co-hosts for the morning’s celebration.  They currently work in UTEC’s culinary and woodworking programs, respectively.


After brief telling of their experience with UTEC, Allen and Alexandra introduced “The Bald Eagle” Gregg Croteau, UTEC’s executive director.  “The opportunities that we think are going to ooze from the bricks of this building, they are truly going to represent a collective vision that ensures that the young people in this room are never seen as those kids, but instead as our kids.”

Next to speak was Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker.  A longtime champion of the organization, Baker summed up his feelings with a simple statement.  “This is what success looks like.”


Before Brenda Anderson and Felicia Neov could speak, the audience was joined by some very special guests–the children of UTEC’s 2Gen center.  With the governor and delegation waiting, the two women spoke about their experiences as young parents at UTEC.


Early Education and Care Commissioner Tom Weber and MassDevelopment CEO Lauren Liss also delivered remarks on their perspectives on UTEC’s latest achievements.  Each spoke to the importance of place, which holds true at all ages, and particularly for children.

Geoff Foster introduced the Lowell delegation,  represented on the speaking program by State Representative Tom Golden.  Representative Golden led the crowd in a hardy chant of “U-TEC!” before giving Governor Baker the new chant of “G-B!”

DSC_0204Mayor Samaras was the last of the elected officials to speak and used the occasion to put the important role UTEC plays in a historical context.

“As a community, we have always worked to make Lowell a place of opportunity. Throughout history, whether it was millworkers, immigrants, university students, we have always tried to make sure that people are given the chances to succeed and live a good life. What UTEC does is really makes those opportunities universal” noted Mayor Samaras, whose ties with the organization go back to his days as the headmaster of Lowell High School, “UTEC helps give young people who may be in need of a second chance or a third chance or however many it takes—it gives those young people the opportunity to thrive, through education, through jobs, and through pride in their city and most importantly in their self.”

The final name on the speaking list was the guest of honor, philanthropist Nancy Donahue, who donated much of the funds necessary to make this project happen.  Croteau told the story of how he and Mrs. Donahue met–as partners in a canal cleanup over a decade ago.


“I’m particularly happy to have this particular part of UTEC because the whole family concept is so important,” Donahue noted before jokingly noting about the community kitchen, “as a mother of seven boys, I know how important food is.”

Finally the ceremony finished with a two part conclusion.  First it was time to cut the (orange, naturally) ribbon, which was walked onto the stage by members of UTEC’s facilities team.  Following that, the sign dedicating the Nancy L. and Richard K. Donahue UTEC Hub for Social Innovation was unveiled with the push of a special button ushered in by the children of the 2Gen Center.


For more information on UTEC and the Nancy L. and Richard K. Donahue UTEC Hub for Social Innovation, be sure to visit