empowering economic opportunity

small business

Small businesses are the lifeblood of our main streets and local economies – and face challenges every day. Working with Mill Cities Community Investments (MCCI) and many other partners, we aim to build a countywide ecosystem of support that enables small businesses to build resiliency and thrive.

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The September 2018 Merrimack Valley gas explosions devastated the local economy. In response, the Merrimack Valley Business Relief (MVBR) Coalition, led by the Lawrence Partnership and ECCF, mobilized immediately to support, stabilize and revitalize the thousands of small businesses severely impacted by the crisis.

Through this work, the Coalition learned that a successful economic recovery lies in a systems approach that actively involves nonprofits, business and community leaders, state and municipal governments, funders and volunteers.

Learn more about this work.

Success stories from our partners.


Small and micro-businesses create jobs, drive community and urban revitalization, and foster local wealth. But oftentimes, they do not qualify for the loans they need to start or sustain operations. ECCF, in collaboration with many local partners, has launched permanent regional loan funds that will help nonbankable businesses in Salem, Lawrence, Andover and North Andover secure the capital need to stay in business.

Learn more about the Lawrence Loan Fund.

Learn more about the Salem Loan Fund.

Learn more about the Lynn Loan Fund.

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Other partners:

Mill Cities Community Investments | Lawrence Partnership | EForAll/EparaTodos | The Enterprise Center at Salem State University | North Shore CDC | Foundation for Business Equity | Amplify Latinx | TLE Center for Urban Entrepreneurship | Local and Regional Banks | Municipal leaders | State Agencies

newsletters and updates

Empowering Economic Opportunity in Essex county brochure


Small and micro-businesses create jobs and drive community and urban revitalization. An investment in small, non-bankable businesses is an investment in local supply chains, employees and property owners that results in jobs, local wealth and the virtuous cycle of commerce.

small business fund news

A collaborative focus on hard-hit restaurants signals better days ahead

Arturo Acosta always dreamed of opening his own restaurant. The Dominican-born chef, who spent much of his career in Chile, made that dream a reality in July of 2018 when he opened Japú in Lawrence. It was a risk, he says, introducing the concept of Nikkei – a fusion of Peruvian ingredients and Japanese culinary techniques – to the local food scene.

Time to create a statewide system of small business support

Strolling down Massachusetts’ Main Streets now looks very different than it did a year ago. Foot traffic is down. Online shopping and curbside pickup have largely replaced local, in-person experiences. And all across the state, small businesses that once breathed life and vitality into our communities — some of them for decades — are shuttering their storefronts for good.

Column: Expanding support for Salem’s small businesses

Small businesses are the lifeblood of our communities, and they play a critical role in creating vibrant main streets and strong local economies. In our area eateries, bookstores, salons, shops and tech companies, we make connections, support our friends and neighbors and witness innovative entrepreneurs in action.

Investing in Human Potential: Antidote to Bleak Labor News

As we navigate through and past the COVID-19 pandemic, Essex County has within our grasp the antidote to recent labor market reports: human potential. Prior to COVID-19, Massachusetts had long enjoyed one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country, but things have changed. While state data for June is not yet available, the Bay State’s May unemployment rate of 16.3% tied for the 4th highest in the country and was three percent higher than the national rate at the time.

Federal stimulus, and local collaboration, keys to recovery

The historic $2.2 trillion CARES Act, passed last week by Congress and designed to buoy the economy in the wake of the coronavirus, includes nearly $380 billion in relief for small businesses. This infusion of resources is critical, but our experience supporting small businesses in the recovery from the Columbia Gas emergency teaches us that for many of our small businesses to leverage these resources, they will require additional interventions in the short- and long-term too.

EDIL and PPP loan “How To” Session – Friday, April 10

Since the federal stimulus was released last week, there have already been regular updates and changes to the regulations and many questions as to how the application process works for both the EDIL and the PPP loan programs. Hosted by ECCF, Lawrence Partnership, and the Small Business Coalition, join Lisa Gonzalez Welch from the SBA for a ‘how-to’ session to walk through some of the logistics on these new resources and how to qualify/apply for them.

New Loan Fund to Help Strengthen Small Businesses

Michelle Xiarhos Curran, ECCF Communications Writer Small and micro-businesses create jobs, drive community and urban revitalization, and foster local wealth. But oftentimes, they do not qualify for the loans they need to start or sustain operations. This winter, a...

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Stratton Lloyd

COO & VP For Community Leadership
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Mayor of Lawrence speaking at a conference

community voices

“As a small business owner who was affected by the gas explosions, I am all too familiar with the disruption and economic loss suffered by other business owners in the area. I’m grateful to the Lawrence Partnership and participating organizations for providing these much-needed resources for small business owners.”

State Senator Barry Finegold

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    Danvers, Massachusetts 01923