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MassDevelopment Awards $1M In Funding For Commonwealth Places Program

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MassDevelopment announced it has awarded $1 million in funding for the second year of the Commonwealth Places program during a ribbon cutting at “The Corner Spot,” a community gathering space and business incubator financed by Commonwealth Places.

Commonwealth Places, launched in June 2016, is a collaborative effort from MassDevelopment and Patronicity that leverages public support for placemaking projects through crowdfunding and a matching grant from MassDevelopment. In its first year, the program launched 20 projects ranging from an accessible dock in Athol to a honeybee meadow in Maynard. The $1 million in funding for the second year of the program is an increase over 2016, and will allow Commonwealth Places to continue supporting strategic projects in cities and towns across the state.

“MassDevelopment is excited to celebrate the success of the Commonwealth Places program and to announce a second year of funding for the initiative,” MassDevelopment President and CEO Marty Jones said in a statement. “We look forward to seeing how The Corner Spot, and all our Commonwealth Places projects past and future, will enhance the commonwealth’s economic development goals in the years to come.”

The Corner Spot project launched in October 2016 and funded the development of a 17,000-square-foot vacant lot in downtown Ashland into a large public space featuring seating, landscaping, public performance space and retail space where small businesses will open temporary pop-up store locations to test new business ideas and ventures. Through the Commonwealth Places program, the town of Ashland met its funding goal of $25,000 to win a matching grant of $25,000 from MassDevelopment.

“The Corner Spot will leverage the creative, innovative ideas of the Ashland community to boost economic activity downtown,” Sen. Karen E. Spilka said in a statement. “The Commonwealth Places program is a terrific example of grassroots, community-driven development, and I look forward to seeing the new business ideas, partnerships and connections that will blossom here.”

With its central location in downtown Ashland, The Corner Spot is intended to stimulate economic activity for existing businesses, allow new businesses to test ideas, showcase the surrounding area to future developers and create an outdoor space for residents to reconnect and enjoy their community.

“It is wonderful to see The Corner Spot come alive due to the support and encouragement from the residents in town,” Beth Reynolds, Ashland director of economic development and community outreach, said in a statement. “This project has already strengthened our community in ways I never imagined.”

Note: This article erroneously stated that The Corner Spot was the recipient of the $1M award. This has been corrected to reflect the fact that $1M was awarded to the Commonwealth Places program as a whole, which benefits localized initiatives like The Corner Spot.

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