The Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce is the recipient of a $180,000 grant from the Massachusetts Office of Business Development (MOBD) to create a startup resource cooperative to be known as the Central Massachusetts Startup Consortium (CMSC).
The Regional Pilot Program under which the Chamber received the grant aims to “promote regional recovery from the economic impacts” of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to MOBD. The Chamber teamed up with the City of Worcester, the Town of Leicester, and startup incubators The Venture Forum, WorcLab, and the Worcester Business Development Corporation’s Idea Lab to plan the project.
CMSC will fill a need in the Worcester area for a centralized clearinghouse on entrepreneurial resources. Its primary medium will be a professionally-constructed and search-engine-optimized website to increase accessibility for startup owners from all backgrounds. The idea is to reduce confusion among entrepreneurs who may not know where to start when looking for assistance in starting a business.
This “one-stop shop” will unite the resources of the wide-ranging incubator ecosystem in Central Massachusetts, providing a comprehensive listing of all local incubators, accelerators, business resource bureaus, and makerspaces and also giving these organizations an opportunity to reach out directly to entrepreneurs looking for assistance.
Given the massive amounts of job losses and business losses that resulted from the pandemic, introducing new small businesses into the economy is crucial for a successful and equitable economic recovery. Worcester aims to leverage its strengths as a city with a bustling innovation ecosystem to provide a supportive place for these businesses to start.
CMSC will help the Chamber promote Worcester as the ideal location for startups. With an innovation economy supported by established incubators and accelerators such as the Massachusetts Biomedical Initiative (MBI) which has supported a booming local life sciences cluster, a large talent pool of more than 35,000 college students, and significantly lower real estate costs than the greater Boston area, it is no wonder why Worcester has been recognized as the second-best city in New England and the 33rd best in the country to start a business.
Leveraging these advantages of starting a business in Worcester and promoting them to potential entrepreneurs is going to be another essential piece of CMSC.
The CMSC website will feature a forum, an interactive events calendar, ecommerce capabilities for membership and sponsorship, a social feed for related entrepreneurial social media content, and a detailed resource directory.
The funding from the grant will go towards subsidizing membership vouchers at the WorcLab and Idea Lab as part of this project, as well as paying for the website’s construction and maintenance through a third-party web design contractor.