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Lever, North Adams Awarded Grant To Support Mohawk Trail Woodlands Partnership
10:01AM / Monday, September 21, 2020
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NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Lever and North Adams were awarded $85,000 in state grant funding to support Mohawk Trail Woodlands Partnership
Lever and the City of North Adams have been awarded $65,000 and $20,000, respectively, through a state grant program to support forest stewardship and conservation, trail improvements, and nature-based tourism in the Mohawk Trail Woodlands Partnership (MTWP) region.
"Outdoor recreation is an attraction for North Adams residents and visitors alike," North Adams Mayor Tom Bernard said. "You don't have to step too far away from the center of the city to connect to nature or enjoy our spectacular views. I'm thrilled to work with the MWTP, and I'm grateful to the Baker-Polito administration for supporting our efforts to promote outdoor recreation in North Adams. I'm also so pleased to have a great partner in Lever. I know that the Mohawk Trail Entrepreneur Challenge will build on Lever's incredible record of promoting entrepreneurship and strengthening our region's economy."
The City of North Adams will use its funding to inventory the City's network of trails—city-owned, state, NGO, and private—and, with input from residents and owners of tourist-focused businesses, create and market a comprehensive trail map to draw more tourists to the City for hiking and walking. 
Lever, the only economic development organization in Massachusetts to receive funding, will use its grant award to create the Mohawk Trail Entrepreneur Challenge (MTEC), a business acceleration program for entrepreneurs within the MTWP region looking to launch or expand innovative forest-based businesses. Designed to help accelerate four to eight new enterprises, each company in the Challenge will incorporate sustainable forestry and natural-resource-based tourism in their business models.
Lever's Executive Director Jeffrey Thomas explained that the Challenge will draw entrepreneurs from all sixteen Mohawk Trail Woodlands Partnership towns, including North Adams, Adams, and Clarksburg. 
"We're delighted to support entrepreneurs from Berkshire and Franklin Counties from our North Adams headquarters," he said.
The MTEC will be launched from the City of North Adams, where Lever headquarters are located, and aims to maximize regional economic impact through businesses that can attract revenue from areas outside the Mohawk Trail region, create new jobs, and attract financing from multiple sources.
Finalists will be selected in September 2020, and in 2021, the winning project will receive $25,000 to support its goals. 
Lever has organized 15 previous challenges, working with a wide range of business models, and has supported more than 80 entrepreneurs whose companies have created dozens of jobs in the region. 
Announced by the Baker-Polito Administration to mark Climate Week in the Commonwealth, $225,000 in total grant funding was awarded to Lever and eight municipalities in the MTWP region. The MTWP, a grassroots-led program based on conserving forests and supporting their sustainable management in order to advance economic development in rural MA communities along the Vermont and New York border, provides funding to assist 16 member towns in the Commonwealth's most rural and forested region to plan for the care of forests in the face of climate change, prepare forest offset projects, and improve nature-based tourism.
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