FY21 Build to Scale EDA Program Offers Capital & Venture Challenges

3.3.2021

 

Staff Contribution
 

The EDA’s FY21 Build to Scale program is now live with $38M in total funding available to build regional economies through scalable startups. Under this program, the EDA is soliciting applications for two separate competitions: Venture Challenge and Capital Challenge.
 
– The FY21 Venture Challenge seeks to support entrepreneurship and accelerate company growth in communities, regions, or combinations of regions.
 
– The FY21 Capital Challenge seeks to increase access to capital in communities where risk capital is in short supply.
 
The EDA application deadline for the challenges is 11:59 PM EST on Thursday, April 29, 2021. To view full application details, please click here.
 
The EDA’s Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship (OIE) leads the Build to Scale (B2S) Program. Under this program, the EDA manages a portfolio of grant competitions that further technology-based economic development initiatives that accelerate high-quality job growth, create more economic opportunities, and support the future of the next generation of industry-leading companies.
 
New Bedford SourceLink
As a reminder, if you’re a local entrepreneur or small business with new ideas—additional resources and support to foster your growth are available through our newest initiative, New Bedford SourceLink!
 
New Bedford SourceLink was developed as a supportive platform to connect maritime, arts+culture, and main street entrepreneurs to a network of local, regional, and national resource partners to foster innovation, growth, and prosperity. Get started by tapping into the Resource Navigator to begin making connections, and building your concept here in New Bedford.

MA COVID-19 Innovation Challenge: Six-Week Business Accelerator — Apply Today!

1.19.2021

 

Staff Contribution
 
The MassTech Collaborative has recently announced its next accelerator program in its series of Innovation Challenges aimed at identifying and growing innovative technologies inspired by the COVID-19 pandemic.
 
Entrepreneurs developing connective technologies with the potential to spark economic recovery and strengthen resiliency in the flow of goods, services, and information are highly encouraged to apply for the Massachusetts COVID-19 Innovation Challenge.
 
The first place winner will receive $40,000, and the second place winner will receive $10,000. Application deadline is Friday, February 19.
 
Questions regarding the accelerator may be directed to Megan Marszalek (marszalek@masstech.org).
 
As a reminder, if you’re a local entrepreneur or small business with new ideas—additional resources and support to foster your growth are available through our newest initiative, New Bedford SourceLink!
 
New Bedford SourceLink was developed as a supportive platform to connect maritime, arts+culture, and main street entrepreneurs to a network of local, regional, and national resource partners to foster innovation, growth, and prosperity. Get started by tapping into the Resource Navigator to begin making connections, and building your concept here in New Bedford.

Press release: Mayor Mitchell Announces New Bedford SourceLink as New Resource for Entrepreneurs and Small Businesses

12.9.2020

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

New Bedford, MA–Mayor Jon Mitchell and the New Bedford Economic Development Council (NBEDC) announce the launch of New Bedford SourceLink, a supportive platform that connects maritime, arts and culture, and main street entrepreneurs to a network of local, regional, and national resource partners to foster innovation, growth, and prosperity.
 
Beginning in the late spring of last year, the NBEDC committed to developing a “game plan” to better understand the ecosystem of entrepreneurs in the city and the assets available to help them. Through a successful application to the National League of Cities to help fund this work through their Cities Innovation Ecosystem program, the New Bedford Port Authority, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, New Bedford Creative Consortium, Co-Creative Center, E for All, and Groundwork joined as founding partners to help fund the initiative and better support the individual communities of entrepreneurs they serve.
 
“It’s no secret that New Bedford is home to some of the most hard-working and innovative business owners in the nation. It’s a part of our history and identity,” said Mayor Mitchell. “This initiative provides another tool for business owners to build, grow, and scale their businesses, which will be especially valuable as we emerge on the other side of the pandemic.”
 
New Bedford SourceLink will be a one-stop, collaborative platform to help new and existing New Bedford businesses accelerate their growth by utilizing a network of existing expert service providers called resource partners. Resource partners, which are vetted through New Bedford SourceLink administrators, are organized in the platform in one central search engine, which can be filtered by the user’s needs.
 
With nearly 30 resource partners already signed up to help New Bedford businesses, New Bedford SourceLink will be able to assist businesses at a variety of stages to access a wide array of services, including business planning, legal counsel, accessing capital, and navigating the licensing and permitting process.
 
“The NBEDC is always on the cutting edge in support of growing our local economy. EforAll South Coast is delighted to be a founding partner of New Bedford Sourcelink, which will help entrepreneurs to access all of the resources available in one website. I look forward to the referrals to our Accelerator programs coming from this partnership as well as the ongoing support entrepreneurs will be able to access,” said Donna Criscuolo, Executive Director, Entrepreneurship For All South Coast.
 
The platform is powered by SourceLink, a national leader in entrepreneurial ecosystems.
“We are excited to be supporting the launch of New Bedford SourceLink. I’ve been thoroughly impressed with the collaborative leadership team and have no doubt that New Bedford SourceLink will quickly become a leader among our national network,” said Rob Williams, Director of SourceLink.
 
To date, SourceLink has helped more than 100 communities nationwide, from Seattle to San Juan, build an infrastructure that sparks, supports, and sustains entrepreneurship and innovation. In every community, the first step is to define the available resources and make them visible. That mapping then allows service organizations to address their entrepreneurs’ specific needs, make and track referrals to resources, and identify and fill gaps in the entrepreneurial ecosystem.
 
“Our small and medium-sized businesses are really the heartbeat and soul of New Bedford,” said Tony Sapienza, President of NBEDC. “We’re excited to be able to offer New Bedford SourceLink as a most excellent resource to accelerate growth, build partnerships, and bring new ideas and businesses to the table as we eagerly look to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic stronger than ever.”
 
In addition to its targeted matchmaking between providers and businesses, New Bedford SourceLink will provide guidance for licensing and management of a start-up enterprise, catalog business-focused events across the city, and host a running blog series featuring entrepreneurs across the city. Once it is safe to gather again in larger numbers, in-person networking and idea-sharing events will be added to the roster. The tool is entirely free to use by business owners and free for resource partners to join and be featured in the platform.
 
Not-for-profit, government, or educational organizations that serve entrepreneurs and established businesses can join the network by visiting https://www.joinsourcelink.com/rn/new-bedford/signup. Businesses looking to learn more may visit www.newbedfordsourcelink.com.
 
 
About SourceLink®

SourceLink provides research and development to help communities strengthen their entrepreneurial ecosystems. As the nation’s premier resource for powering entrepreneurs, SourceLink helps build vibrant communities and promotes economic growth by stimulating small business success. SourceLink has successfully engaged with more than 100 communities nationwide, and that number continues to grow. Affiliated networks include Baltimore SourceLink, Colmena66 in Puerto Rico, IASourceLink in Iowa, KCSourceLink in Kansas City, NetWork Kansas, Dallas B.R.A.I.N., and more. SourceLink founders include the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, University of Missouri–Kansas City and the U.S. Small Business Administration. Find out more at www.joinsourcelink.com.

SoCoECo Presents: How to Get Funding in a Pandemic Webinar, 5:30PM Today

12.8.2020

 

Staff Contribution

 

We hope you’re beginning to get in the holiday spirit! If you’re an entrepreneur or small business, we’d like to let you know that South Coast Entrepreneurs Collaborative (SoCoECo) will be hosting an informational webinar this evening about gaining funding.
 
It’s no secret that securing early-stage investment capital is difficult even during the best of times. Without much of the normal face-to-face interaction that precedes a formal pitch, developing the trust necessary to both make the ask (for founders) and make the investment (for funders), has been challenging.
 
In the program, two early-stage tech companies will share their best practices and insight into how they overcame these hurdles to get funded during the pandemic.
 
To register, please click here.

New Bedford Transit-Oriented Development (NBTOD) Study Update

08.24.2020

 

Staff Contribution

 
During the ongoing COVID-19 health crisis, the NBTOD study has continued to move forward, and the project team is excited to share those results very soon.

 
As part of that effort, the project team developed a new webpage for the study that includes many of the same features as the old page and some new ways to share your thoughts. Now, residents, business owners, and city stakeholders can share their comments and feedback in various ways:
 
Email nbtodstudy@gmail.com

Call or text call the project hotline (508) 293-1280

Submit a comment card via Google Doc

 

To stay informed about upcoming events, follow the project team on Facebook, Youtube, or join the mailing list.

 
Also, be on the lookout for the next virtual public workshop tentatively scheduled for October 2020!

Meeting the moment with innovation in New Bedford

By Steven Froias / Contributing Writer

Beginning in 2010, something remarkable began happening in the City of New Bedford. New business start-ups outpaced the state average here and reached a plateau in 2015 that maintained itself for the next five years. On average, 85-100 businesses of all manner and size opened each year in New Bedford over the course of ten years.

That trend was on track to continue right into 2020 – and then the Covid-19 pandemic hit.

As is the case throughout the country, predicting what happens during the coming year, after an economic shutdown and while the novel coronavirus still seethes while more effective treatment is found or a vaccine is discovered, will be difficult.

However, during the past decade, the New Bedford Economic Development Council (NBEDC) has had a front-row seat witnessing this period of extraordinary growth and innovation in New Bedford. Indeed, it has been the organization’s mission and privilege to help facilitate this profound change of fortunes in the city and for the region by building policy consensus, forging strategic partnerships, providing critical lending opportunities, and promoting long-term growth potential through a variety of initiatives.

During the current combined health and economic crisis, we’re now seeing the result of years of crucial investment in New Bedford’s economic foundation pay off as businesses small and large seize the culture of creativity that engineered this noteworthy period of growth – and employ it to confront the current challenge. They are moving forward building better in ways that offer a promising outlook once Covid-19 is history.

For example, Arthur Glassman of Glassman Automotive Repair and Sales probably didn’t imagine that he would soon be celebrating 30 years of business as a brick and mortar service center in the city while confronting a pandemic. Yet he is tackling the challenge head-on.

He says that during the first weeks of the total economic shutdown in Massachusetts business came to a screeching halt. But Glassman Automotive used the time to “regroup, reorganize, and basically do the things we had always planned to do but had not got around to doing,” he says.

As an essential business, they remained open – and quickly saw business rebound. The way they were conducting that business had changed, however.

They stocked up from vendors after arranging for contact-less delivery. They installed a dropbox for check and key drop-offs and began taking credit card payments over the phone. They launched a policy called “get in and go” whereby customers would just arrive at a parking space, find the keys in their newly-serviced car, and just drive off the lot with it.

“After 30 years, our customers are friends,” Arthur Glassman says. “They’re happy we are looking after their safety.” As a consequence, business, he says, is now good.

Anne Broholm, CEO of AHEAD LLC, had a different challenge to meet. As a leader of a world-recognized manufacturer of quality headwear, apparel and accessories in New Bedford’s Industrial Park, she realized that ensuring her workforce was ready to safely and effectively return to work after the shutdown was the goal AHEAD had to set for itself.

“AHEAD, like most companies, took a significant hit due to COVID-19 and the implications of the shutdown and overall slowing of the economy,” she states. Like Glassman, the initial shutdown provided time to plot a strategy – and AHEAD’s also involved speeding up plans that had already been part of the company’s long-term strategy.

Broholm writes, “One of the best measures we took was to effectively utilize the workshare program through MA unemployment. This allowed us to return more employees total on a 32 vs. 40-hour workweek once we reopened. In my opinion, it is an underutilized but extremely valuable program.”

“We also continue to aggressively cross-train within the company – this was already an ongoing initiative prior to COVID and we have taken it a step further since reopening. We want to ensure that we have work for everyone at all times and the best way to do that is to ensure that our associates have the skills to do whatever task is needed most at any given time.”

Formulating and enacting innovative programs for the future is nothing new for Anne Broholm. Indeed, she is a member of the NBEDC’s Regeneration Project – a collaborative platform that focuses on research, engagement, and the development of policies that encourage dynamic and sustainable economic growth for a thriving New Bedford.

In addition to protecting their associates’ employment, protecting their health is a top priority, says Broholm. “We have and continue to take all necessary measures to ensure a safe work environment. Our goal has and continues to be to focus on any/all actions we can take to rebuild the company and return to a position of growth. We work every day to identify the takeaways from this challenge that can make AHEAD be even stronger in the future,” she concludes.

Finally, few businesses face the challenges that New Bedford’s many and beloved independent restaurants face.

Jessica Coelho, owner of Tia Maria’s European Cafe in the downtown historic district, recognized this reality early – and faced it head-on by moving decisively. This, too, entailed putting into action some ideas that previously been discussed, but were now imperative to keep the business firing on all burners.

Coelho realized the eatery would have to “drive” take out and, essentially overnight, put in place the infrastructure to make that happen efficiently. “My husband is in the military,” she explains, “so he’s been trained to adapt to change!”

They and her crew quickly created an online ordering platform on ​tiamariaseuropeancafe.com​, and instituted a customer-friendly curbside pick-up service – a challenge for a business in a historic district with no parking lot and limited street frontage.

“I thought about the businesses along Acushnet Avenue,” Jessica says, “And realized they had the same challenge regarding limited parking and curbside to work with.”

Her answer was to designate a dedicated pick-up spot for customers near the restaurant and then promote it vigorously via Tia Maria’s social media. And, it paid off.

“We discovered that curbside take-out was so easy!” she says. “We kind of owned the block!”

Coelho also made sure she was part of the City of New Bedford’s restaurant reopening group launched by the Planning Department, from where she could help formulate outdoor dining policy and eventual indoor reopening plans. It was “very beneficial to be part of the restaurant reopening group,” she says. “It allowed us to open for outdoor dining quickly.”

Tia Maria’s was also part of a program funded by Harvard Pilgrim, coordinated by Coastal Foodshed, which arranged for restaurants to provide meals for seniors.

“That was important to us,” Coehlo says – and not just because it was a financial shot in the arm during the early days of the pandemic. “We didn’t just want to be ‘those people who stayed open during a pandemic.’ We needed a purpose and this gave it to us.” As of mid-July, Tia Maria’s and fellow downtown business Destination Soups have provided over 1,200 meals for seniors through the program.

Like Arthur Glassman and Anne Broholm, Jessica Coehlo says the innovations with which she met the onset of the pandemic will outlive it. Online ordering and curbside pick-up in a historic district, like contact-less vehicle pick-up and cross-training at AHEAD, are ideas that are here to stay.

Though each and other new practices at these businesses were launched to meet a particular moment, they were truly born in a foundation of growth and opportunity that was and is the new bedrock of innovation in this city. While the immediate economic outlook will test the resilience of New Bedford, this culture of regeneration augurs well for the future.

page3image29263552

The New Bedford Economic Development Council is pleased to share the stories of Arthur Glassman, Anne Boholm and Jessica Coelho with you as part of the city’s culture of collaboration. It is what will help see us through the present time and into the future. As always, the NBEDC stands ready to provide any assistance necessary to realize that future, and together we will ride out this storm and maintain the reputation New Bedford has worked so hard to earn over the past decade as a regional economic, creative and social hub for Southeastern Massachusetts.

EforAll SouthCoast June accelerator program attracts participants

 

NEW BEDFORD — Even though most businesses are facing a tough time right now, local entrepreneurs still want to participate in Entrepreneurship for All’s (EforAll) Business Accelerator Program that starts in June, according to Donna Criscuolo, executive director of EforAll South Coast.

 

 

Criscuolo said the nonprofit reached out to the program’s applicants after the coronavirus began to hit the area to see if they wanted to move forward with their application, and they did.

 

 

“People feel like now is the time to get the education that they need to start a business,” Criscuolo said, “They are feeling empowered about taking control of their destiny and future in terms of creating a business.”

 

 

Criscuolo called the decision to move forward with the program a testament to the heart and soul of an entrepreneur — regardless of the situation they move forward and pivot.

 

 

“We typically work with early stage entrepreneurs, but we do work with people that have been in business and are wondering how to get to the next level,” Criscuolo said.

 

Original story here.

 

MassINC Loves The Ave

Published November 24, 2019

In an annual event that is now in its seventh year, the Boston-based public policy group MassINC recognizes individuals, groups and organizations who are employing innovative strategies to revitalize the state’s Gateway Cities.

This year, on Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2019, MassINC acknowledged the work of Love The Ave for its work along the commercial corridor Acushnet Avenue and in the City of New Bedford’s north end. Love The Ave was given a MassINC Gateway Cities Innovation Award at Worcester’s DCU Center for its efforts.

In recognizing Love The Ave, MassINC wrote, “Love the Ave is a community-driven group of engaged residents, dedicated local business leaders, and partner organizations working collaboratively with city officials to catalyze New Bedford’s revitalizing north end commercial corridor, Acushnet Avenue.

“To date, the effort has led to infrastructure and streetscape improvements, including wider sidewalks to accommodate cafes and provide space for benches, bike racks, and pedestrians, and improved lighting. Also, as components of a broad marketing campaign to brand Acushnet Ave’s ‘International Marketplace’, the Love the Ave team has organized two restaurant week promotions, created murals and other public art, and hosted cultural festivals.

“Building on this momentum, the Community Economic Development Center and WHALE are transforming the long-dormant Capitol Theater into a mixed-use resource hub for the community. Launched with organizing assistance from the Massachusetts Smart Growth Alliance’s Great Neighborhoods Initiative, this collaborative undertaking epitomizes the kind of multifaceted partnership needed to achieve equitable transformative transit-oriented development in Gateway City station areas.”

Traveling to Worcester to accept the award were team members Angela Johnston, of the New Bedford Economic Development Council (NBEDC); Corrin William and Brian Pastori of north end’s Community Economic Development Center (CEDC); the artist Tracy Barbosa of Duende Glass, Inc.; and Love The Ave Community Media Manager, Steven Froias.

Also representing New Bedford at the event, which consisted of policy panels as well as the awards luncheon, were Derek Santos, Executive Director of the NBEDC; Tabitha Harkin, Director of City Planning for New Bedford; and Colleen Dawacki resident, School Committee member and Working Cities Challenge Manager for the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.

“Being recognized by MassINC was a terrific validation of the work we’ve been doing in New Bedford’s north end,” commented Love The Ave’s Steven Froias. “The goals of our group and their organization align perfectly.”

MassINC’s mission is to promote the growth of a vibrant middle class in Massachusetts, with a focus on its Gateway Cities like New Bedford. They seek to achieve impact by moving ideas to public policy through civic engagement.

#NorthEndNB Mission

Love The Ave personifies that mission in New Bedford.

Love The Ave is a committee of diverse community members dedicated to promoting the equally diverse commercial corridor, Acushnet Avenue and all of New Bedford’s North End.

Its mission statement states, “Love The Ave believes Acushnet Avenue has a beloved past, dynamic present and thrilling future as the heart of the North End.

“The commercial corridor and surrounding neighborhood is home to the city’s International Marketplace – a collection of cultures reflected in its many restaurants, businesses, services and opportunities – and vibrant Riverside Park among other unique destinations.

“Its residential population enjoys the area’s most walkable neighborhood. From dawn into the evening, The Ave, as it is affectionately known, is a hub of activity.

“Up and down The Ave and throughout the North End you’ll find a community of civic and private enterprises of all backgrounds working together to create a destination like none other on the South Coast.”

#LoveTheAve in New Bedford

Launched with the help of the MA Growth Alliance’s Great Neighborhoods program in conjunction with the CEDC, Love The Ave has brought public art to the walls and streets of the north end; sought to support and engage small business owners and social equality groups throughout the area; promotes cultural events celebrating a diverse community; and organizes an annual Restaurant Week to define the north end as a regional dining destination and promote New Bedford’s unique cuisine.

“Receiving this Innovation Award at this particular time is especially gratifying as 2020 will see Acushnet Avenue reach the tipping point,” Froias says. “Significant projects underway like WHALE’s renovation of both the historic Strand Theater, which will showcase the contribution of Cabo Verde residents in our city as the Cape Verdean Cultural Center, and the Capitol Theater, which will become a one-of-a-kind mixed-use community hub, will represent a new milestone for north end’s revitalization.”

Love The Ave welcomes any and all engaged partners to the group. You can follow news and events through its Facebook page here, and contact Angela Johnston at ajohnston@nbedc.org for more information about upcoming meetings.

Original story here.

Women rule — the downtown New Bedford business scene

Posted Nov 9, 2019 at 4:00 PM

NEW BEDFORD — Women rule. Obviously.

And while you’re thinking of all the ways they do, here’s one more: They’re rocking the business scene in downtown New Bedford.

From cafés and clothing shops to fitness studios and salons, the compact center of the City that Lit the World has them all — many run by women.

“I always just wanted to be downtown,” said Lori Gomes, easing into an upholstered chair at Beauty Union, her salon next to Custom House Square.

A West End native, Gomes had a flair for hair as far back as high school, when she did hairstyling for friends in the bathrooms at New Bedford High. She got her first salon position in the city’s Times Square Building in 1989, and later went out on her own, opening L’Atelier Boutique Salone in a second-floor space above what is now dNB Burgers.

Still, she craved a location even closer to the city center, and a year ago, she moved to a first-floor spot on Acushnet Avenue, in the Co-Creative Center, under the name Beauty Union.

One of the things that surprised her about going into business was how much working capital she needed. A plumbing problem — a big deal at a salon — delayed her opening by two months, and she had already been paying rent on the space for three months before the delay.

Her stylists are young. Gomes likes the idea of giving them a chance to succeed in New Bedford, without moving away.

STRENGTH IN NUMBERS

With help from Elissa Paquette, who owns the women’s clothing shop Calico and is president of Downtown New Bedford Inc., The Standard-Times recently connected with more than 30 women making waves downtown. Most of them own businesses. A few lead cultural institutions, such as the New Bedford Art Museum.

Paquette first came to New Bedford one summer when she was a student at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design, in Boston. She sublet an art studio from a friend. They ate Mexican food at No Problemo and checked out the Solstice skate shop.

She felt awed to see local business owners in their 20s.

“I had never seen that outside Williamsburg (Brooklyn),” she said.

Paquette had dabbled in selling vintage clothing on eBay, and she decided to make a go of it with a brick-and-mortar store in the Whaling City. She opened Calico as a vintage clothing shop in 2005, in a second-floor location over a nail salon.

After three years, she moved to a first-floor shop. But filling the larger store with curated vintage merchandise wasn’t easy. So she spent $1,000 to stock new clothing in a handful of styles. People bought them right away.

“That’s when I knew I was on to something,” she said.

One of the best things about being the boss, she said, is creating a culture and being in charge. But it means you’re in charge of everything.

“It’s the best thing, and the worst thing,” she said.

She jokes with employees that if the store needs a new vacuum, they’ll have to ask corporate — which, of course, is her.

Although she loves her job, she said leaving behind a 9-to-5 schedule may not be as freeing as some people envision.

“It’s a lot of work,” she said.

Paquette and Standard-Times photographer Peter Pereira, intrigued by the number of women who own businesses downtown, organized a photo shoot. More than 30 people showed up. Twenty-five subsequently answered a Standard-Times survey designed to give a broader view of women’s experiences doing business in the city center.

UPS AND DOWNS

Jenny Liscombe-Newman Arruda, co-owner of the art and craft gallery TL6 the Gallery, opened the shop with a friend, Arianna Swink. They studied metalsmithing together at UMass Dartmouth. At first, they made jewelry in a basement studio and sold it at other shops. But when the former White Knight Gallery became available, they decided to go for it.

“We were like, ‘This is our chance,’” she said.

It’s a labor of love. Both of them have other jobs, Swink as a tax accountant and Liscombe-Newman Arruda as a waitress at a downtown restaurant.

She said she feels some disappointment that city government hasn’t done more to help small downtown businesses. She also wasn’t satisfied with last year’s holiday parking program, which only allowed free parking for two hours. Anyone who got ticketed for parking longer had to present a same-day store receipt to get the ticket forgiven.

“That’s not welcoming,” she said.

She does approve of the newly extending parking times downtown, and she said the transition from the old Holiday Shops event at the Whaling Museum to the broader Holiday Stroll has been a success.

“I am a positive person,” she said. “But if we don’t speak up about problems, they won’t improve.”

WOMEN IN THE LEAD

Leaders working together to do better is one of New Bedford’s biggest strengths, and women are in the vanguard of that effort, according to Margo Saulnier, creative strategist for the city. From the founding of AHA! Night 21 years ago to the consortium of 27 people implementing New Bedford’s arts and culture plan, “it is the female leadership who are generating that collaboration,” she said.

What follows is a small sample of survey responses from 25 of the women who make downtown click. Responses have been edited for length and clarity.

WHY NEW BEDFORD?

Abrah Zion, Miss Z Photography: I was born and raised in New Bedford. Downtown is a thriving hub. I wanted to be located in a central area and among other amazing business owners.

Cheryl Moniz, Arthur Moniz Gallery: Arthur (her husband, who died last year) and I were both born in New Bedford. We both loved the waterfront and New Bedford’s historical buildings and the rich history of downtown.

Cecelia Brito, Celia’s Boutique: I knew when I walked up and down Purchase Street, Union Street, etc., that I had to put “location” at the top of my to-do list. Location, location, location.

CHALLENGES YOU’VE FACED?

Lara Harrington, Boutique Fitness: Other people’s livelihoods are now dependent on our dedication to the growth of our business. This can be a challenge but also a motivator (and a wonderful thing to celebrate).

Jessica Coelho Arruda, Tia Maria’s European Cafe: Finding work-life balance, and figuring out how to finagle it all, has been a challenge. The first couple of years were the hardest, but as the business has grown, it has become easier to manage. I make it a priority to plan ahead, work efficiently and schedule time off.

Alison Wells, Alison Wells Fine Art Studio & Gallery: The biggest challenge for me is that in my career, I used to wear one hat: the artist’s hat. When I became a business owner, I suddenly had two hats to juggle, and it has been a challenge to balance them and not let one area suffer.

Elona Koka, Cafe Arpeggio: The amount of time the business requires, especially as a new owner, takes away from spending time with my family. I don’t really get to spend too much time with my daughter.

ON BEING A WOMAN IN BUSINESS

Caite Howland, The Beehive: I’m a mom, and making my own schedule is a great blessing. I get the chance to take some extra time while my kids are still young.

Val Kollars, New Bedford Tattoo Company: The tattoo industry is very male-dominated and very difficult for female tattoo artists. It’s what pushed me to have my own business.

Alison Wells, Alison Wells Fine Art Studio & Gallery: We often have to work harder to prove ourselves in gaining recognition and resources in the male-dominated art establishment. Having my own art business has helped me to carve out a role and niche for myself as a female artist of color. I have learned that being a business owner is about relationships and offering something more than the product itself, and this, in fact, is a unique strength women have.

Original story here.

It’s time for ‘Summer Winds,’ the new art exhibition soaring into New Bedford

“The summer wind came blowin’ in from across the sea

It lingered there, to touch your hair and walk with me

All summer long we sang a song and then we strolled that golden sand

Two sweethearts and the summer wind”

– as sung by Frank Sinatra

Okay — “Summer Wind” by Ol’ Blue Eyes has little to do thematically with “Summer Winds” the kinetic outdoor public art installation coming to Custom House Square Park this July 1.

But there was simply no way State of the Arts was going to miss an opportunity to tip a fedora to the original Chairman of the Board.

The Chairman of the new Board, of DATMA — the Massachusetts Design Art and Technology Institute — is Roger Mandle. And it’s hard to imagine that he lacks any of the romance Sinatra brought to the game of life since he and his associates are introducing the wild concept of DATMA and “Summer Winds” to New Bedford and SouthCoast.

DATMA is defined as a non-collecting “museum” dedicated to large-scale, site-specific art installations. It was founded in 2016 with a diverse, 16-member board of trustees led by Mandle.

His bio states that he has 40 years of experience in building museums around the world and is a major contributor to the STEM to STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) education initiative championed by the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), where he served as president.

If you need some context regarding what, exactly, a non-collecting “museum” dedicated to large-scale, site specific art installations actually is, you’ve come to the right place. Actually, let’s travel back to another time and place to explore the subject…

The Gates & “Summer Winds”

Back in 2005, New York City was still a little shell-shocked from the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center. It was a city that was still licking its wounds.

In the middle of winter, from Feb. 12 through Feb. 27 of that year, public art helped facilitate some desperately needed healing in a way that most initially thought improbable or even downright ludicrous.

Just over 7,000 deep saffron-colored nylon fabric panels were hung from ‘gates’ across 23 miles of pathway in Central Park. That’s it. Just colored fabric floating gently in the breeze

The world-renowned artists Christo Yavacheff and Jeanne-Claude, known jointly as Christo and Jeanne-Claude, were behind The Gates, as the exhibit was officially called. Indeed, they had worked for decades to bring the project to Manhattan.

Kudos must be given to Michael Bloomberg, mayor at the time, for facilitating the project on behalf of the city (with the vigorous support of Deputy Mayor Patricia Harris). All billionaires aren’t created equally; some missteps aside, he was generally enlightened regarding the arts – and the value of the arts to New York City. Millions came to visit The Gates.

For everyone who experienced the grace and sense of tranquility this public art project brought to a city that really needed it — this writer included, who was living in New York at the time — The Gates will always represent a special moment in time.

The Gates alludes to the tradition of Japanese torii gates, traditionally constructed at the entrance to Shinto shrines. In 2005, people reclaimed a measure of faith … through a shared public art experience.

So, that’s the context of site-specific public art exhibition. Thankfully, many years away from 9/11, and in New Bedford, it’s a future written on the wind we’re embracing and making a shared creative space for in 2019. But like The Gates, it promises to be no less meaningful.

Silver Current Over Custom House Square Park

“Summer Winds” is a visionary project for the city, signifying a new vision of the city. Like The Gates, it will be a visual representation of a moment in time at precisely the right moment in a city’s history.

In this case, that moment is when New Bedford prepares to host the nation’s first attempt to launch a viable offshore wind energy industry. And for this moment, DATMA has recruited another world-renowned artist, Patrick Shearn.

Patrick Shearn and his outfit, Poetic Kinetics, are based out of Los Angeles. But they’ll be heading east to install “Silver Current” over Custom House Square Park this summer. In fact, Patrick has already been in New Bedford to prepare for this large-scale, outdoor public art exhibition that will bring distinction to the city.

“Silver Current” will be an 8,000-square foot kinetic net sculpture floating in the sky above the park from July 1 to Sept. 30 this year.

Press material explains that, “made out of ultra-lightweight metalized film, ‘Silver Current’ is the latest of the artist’s series of ‘Skynets’ that move and shimmer with the wind, from 15 feet off the ground to 115 feet in the air.

“The customized piece is comprised of approximately 5,200 linear feet of rope, 200 hand-tied technical knots, and approximately 50,000 streamers of holographic silver film on a monofilament net, forming an iridescent wind wave form. Harnessing available wind, the artwork rises high into the sky and gently cascades down again, undulating in a display that is striking from a distance and intimately immersive up close.”

“Silver Current” is a statement piece that will visualize the State of the Arts in New Bedford Now — and the state of the city itself. A city that’s embracing the future and unafraid to think large.

The larger “Summer Winds” collaborative effort will entwine many aspects of the city’s indigenous arts and culture. From kite flying — with a nod to New Bedford’s growing Guatemalan community, in which Festival Tipico de Guatemala is part of its heritage — to the annual Seaport Cultural District Artwalk outdoor sculpture exhibit, which this year has adopted the theme of “wind.”

And here’s the bottom line — even though it’s one that’s going to be floating above the horizon: thousands will experience this city because of all this effort. That’s the power of arts and culture; to bring a community and region together for a unique shared experience.

It happened in 2005 in Central Park. It will happen this summer in New Bedford.

And it will be a moment to seize and hold on to … before it’s gone with the wind.

Steven Froias blogs for the coworking facility, Groundwork! at NewBedfordCoworking.com. Email: StevenFroias@gmail.com.