The Town of Amherst, in conjunction with the Amherst Downtown Business Improvement District (BID), has received a Local Rapid Recovery Program grant from the Massachusetts Downtown Initiative (MDI) under the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development.
Town Manager Paul Bockelman stated, “We are pleased to partner with our business community, and specifically, the BID, to strategize on ways to emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic with a vital and robust business environment.”
BID Executive Director Gabrielle Gould added, “We are thrilled to be paired with Civic Moxie’s collaborative team of planners and urban designers. They are an innovative on-the-ground consulting firm whose focus on vibrancy, arts, culture, and the business community to engage and invigorate downtown areas is remarkable. They have worked extensively in Massachusetts and all over the US. We look forward to sharing ideas, creating solutions, and building a downtown that is ready for a post COVID world."
The grant provides technical assistance tailored to the unique economic challenges and immediate COVID-19 impacts that have affected downtowns, town centers, and commercial areas throughout Massachusetts. It is an action-oriented program that seeks to help communities develop immediate strategies for short-term recovery. The plans will also address medium and long-term recovery strategies, but those will not be the focus of the planning efforts and will offer communities and stakeholders a concise road map for project-related investments that support alignment with existing public resources as well as the potential to leverage additional resources from other partners and funders. The plans will all include a thorough analysis and exploration of COVID-related challenges and barriers and conclude with a set of projects and strategies necessary to address COVID-19 recovery needs.
The MDI has appointed Civic Moxie, LLC, a woman-owned business and collaborative team of planners and urban designers based in Brookline, Massachusetts, and Woodstock, Vermont as the Plan Facilitator for the project. Civic Moxie has worked on the “Waterfront Bridgeport” in Connecticut which revitalized vacant and underutilized spaces; “Envision Concord” in Massachusetts which facilitated a community engagement process with a master plan for the downtown; and “Creative Portland” in Maine which helped identify strategies for creating affordable artist and nonprofit spaces.