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February 17th, 2017
By: Jim Sullivan, Staff Writer
AMESBURY — Chamber of Commerce executive director Kassandra Gove has spent the past two weeks letting her members know about a program she feels could prove to be popular with small to mid-sized businesses.
“We are really happy to have been included in this program,” Gove said. “It is a unique opportunity to offer professional development for busy CEOs when programs like this are usually focused on startups.”
The program, launched by Congressman Seth Moulton, D-Salem, during a special event at Salem State University’s Enterprise Center on Feb. 6, has partnered with the Inner City Capital Connections (ICCC) North Shore program.
“The idea is to treat the North Shore as essentially one city or a pool of applicants,” said Moulton’s economic development director, Jason Denoncourt.
“The applicants apply and they get into what is essentially a 40-hour mini MBA program where they spend a 40-hour work week working on their business instead of in their business. This is (also) the first time they are culling folks outside of a major city. I know the name suggests it’s all working with an inner city, but what the program is really about is providing entrepreneurs with training and access to capital. All entrepreneurs, no matter where they are located, need that.”
Designed to support small-business growth and access to capital in seven of the 19 municipalities in Moulton’s 6th Congressional District, the ICCC North Shore program is free to participants in Amesbury, Newburyport, Beverly, Peabody, Lynn, Salem and Gloucester.
According to Steve Grossman, former state treasurer and now CEO of Initiative for a Competitive Inner City, the ICCC North Shore program hopes to engage at least five businesses from each city.
“Seth wanted to make sure every city in his district could take part in the program,” Grossman said. “We are trying to provide these companies with coaching and, most importantly, access to capital, so they can grow and provide good-paying jobs in cities like Amesbury. This is the first time in the program’s history that a sitting congressman has gotten personally involved.”
Founded by Harvard Business School professor Michael Porter, the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City began in 1994 with a focus on fostering economic development in urban areas by strengthening private sector investment. An off-shoot of Porter’s nonprofit organization, the ICCC program now operates in 11 major cities across the United States, including Los Angeles, Dallas, Chicago and Boston.
According to Denoncourt, 87 percent of companies on the North Shore consist of five employees or fewer, which is why Moulton’s office jumped on board.
“Most of the companies in our congressional district are smaller companies, so we are trying to work for them,” Denoncourt said. “What we are really looking for are companies who are ready, willing and wanting to work on their business and grow. The goal is that they get access to capital that they wouldn’t have access to. One of the statistics that I find compelling is that there have been 1,100 companies that have participated in the ICCC program and that subset of companies has raised $1.4 billion in capital as a result of it. That is obviously pretty substantial.”
Excited by a program that she said “bridges the gap between startup and mature companies,” Gove said she has talked to 18 Amesbury companies such as Pause Yoga, Speedboard USA and Inroof Solar, which have expressed interest. She has been working closely with Collaborative Innovation Works Amesbury CEO Bob OBrien to interface with companies they feel could benefit from the ICCC program.
“Having access to this type of resource is big and we are happy to facilitate that,” Gove said.
Gove will submit her nominations for the program on Wednesday, Feb. 22. The participating companies will then meet at the Boston Federal Reserve Bank for a day-long seminar, June 12.
“Any company that applies right up until May, we will try to include in the program,” Grossman said.
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