BID/Town of Amherst Announce ARPA Economic Empowerment Initiative

The Amherst Business Improvement District is thrilled to announce its new partnership with the Town of Amherst to focus on Economic Empowerment in order to rebuild our economy post-pandemic and focus on growth, entrepreneurship, arts, and culture all to ensure a strong and vibrant future throughout Amherst. In response to the negative economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the program allocates $250,000 of Town American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to support small business empowerment and economic development over the next two and a half years. The program will be created and overseen by the Amherst BID ED Gabrielle Gould in collaboration with the Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce  ED Claudia Pazmany. The program will make connections with both existing and prospective businesses, the local colleges, and University and work to sustain local businesses, artists, cultural organizations, and entrepreneurs.

To carry out the program, the Amherst Business Improvement District (BID) welcomes a new role this summer.  Lizzie Alwan will join the Amherst BID as the Economic Empowerment Analyst. Alwan recently completed a master’s degree in Public Policy at UMass Amherst and has extensive research experience from her work managing a local lab to working for the Franklin Council of Governments.  As Economic Empowerment Analyst, Alwan will bring her experience in local government and data analysis, lead research, and industry analysis regarding the Amherst economy including commercial district market profiles. In this role, Alwan will also serve as the central point of contact for Amherst-area entrepreneurs and artists looking to start and/or rejuvenate their local businesses.

After two years of event cancellations, business closures, and an absent student population, Alwan will help build strong economic assets to bring businesses to Amherst and will work with the Town and the business community to create a Small Business Permitting Guide and a Creative overview of our arts, culture and destination-worthy assets. 

Lizzie will also lead and organize regular events in collaboration with local artists, cultural organizations, and universities to showcase Amherst’s rich business district, entertainment, and hospitality. Alwan is finishing a Master’s degree in Public Policy and Administration at UMass Amherst: “My goal is to listen and learn from current Amherst business owners and experts, and translate that knowledge to remove barriers for future Amherst business owners. I hope to protect the integrity of Amherst while ushering it into a vibrant, equitable future.”

Paul Bockelman, Town Manager: “Small businesses are the engine that drives our economy. However, small businesses have suffered the most during the pandemic. We have focused the Town’s economic recovery funds to rebuild and empower small businesses, leverage our cultural assets, and work together with the Town’s colleges and university. I am pleased to partner with the BID and Chamber in this creative effort.”

Sean Mangano, Finance Director: “American Rescue Plan Act funds are intended to help our community recover from the pandemic. The Town has allocated funds for public health, housing, homelessness, education, childcare, and more. Our goal for these funds is to support an equitable and sustainable economic recovery with benefits that far outweigh the initial investment.”

Gabrielle Gould, ED Amherst BID, and Downtown Amherst Foundation. “The continued relationship between the Town of Amherst, Chamber, and the BID has made this very exciting program possible. Over the past 2 years, the BID has stepped outside of the prescribed area to assist businesses throughout Amherst to survive, we are very excited to be able to continue our work on economic development and growth and truly see each of our Amherst town centers as exciting prospects to support, enhance and see thrive! We remain a small but mighty office, the addition of Lizzy to our team and for this program is going to be invaluable, now we get to work! “

Claudia Pazmany, ED Amherst Area Chamber shares, “Having the Amherst Area Chamber, Amherst BID, and Town of Amherst in the oversight of this position, and deliverables allow us to take a holistic approach at the rebuilding of our economic development. We believe we have a fertile economic footprint from which we can all thrive and grow. Together, we will navigate with increased thinking, rebuilding stronger, more cohesive town centers, while creating tools for greater access to capital, increasing equity, and continuously attracting new businesses while maintaining a focus on retention. It’s time to put our ARPA funds to work for our business community. And we believe Lizzie is the perfect addition to the team to make it happen.”