If it takes a village to raise a child, as it’s often been said, then it takes an “ecosystem” of nonprofit, academic and for-profit groups to save a small business.
That’s the philosophy behind recently established umbrella organization in the Merrimack Valley that seeks to take all lessons learned during the Columbia Gas disaster and apply them to the current COVID-19 crisis.
“The silver lining of the gas disaster was the mobilization of an ecosystem providing an ongoing investment in small businesses,” said Stratton Lloyd, executive vice president of the Essex County Community Foundation, which has been tapped to manage many of the financial resources made available as a result of the gas disaster.
“Over the last couple of years," he said, "we have continued to nurture and grow, so when COVID hit, this ecosystem was already in place and able to mobilize rapidly.”
The Merrimack Valley Business Relief coalition, or MVBR, is a group of organizations bringing different strengths and skill-sets to the business of helping small businesses, according to Lawrence Partnership Executive Director Derek Mitchell, who might be called the co-pilot of the group along with Lloyd.
“There are two battles,” Mitchell said. “Making sure there are resources for small businesses and then making sure businesses have access to them.”