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Collaborative Workspace Grant for Women + Nonbinary Entrepreneurs

Sphere Northampton Scores a Grant to Bring a Collaborative Workspace for Women + Nonbinary Entrepreneurs to Florence

Dr. Megan M. Allen, NBCT
Co-Founder, The Sphere Northampton

Sphere Northampton Proposal to Create ‘The Sphere Innovation Lab’ Has Been Selected As One of 3 Grants Awarded in Western Mass By MassDevelopment.

The Sphere Innovation Lab will soon be built out as a coworking space in Florence, MA thanks to a significant grant awarded by MassDevelopment as part of its Collaborative Workspace Program.

Grant funds from MassDevelopment will allow renovations to be completed for a space in the building located in Florence, previously unoccupied since the 1990s. This building falls within an Opportunity Zone, meaning there are incentives for economic development due to the need to create more foot traffic.

The Sphere Northampton recognized an opportunity to invest in the community by seeking funds to support the creation of The Sphere Innovation Lab. The Lab creates an inclusive space for organizations and individuals seeking entrepreneurial support or accessible options for collaborative opportunities, professional resources, and private workspace.

The Innovation Lab supports The Sphere’s mission to uplift and strengthen the Greater Northampton Area entrepreneurial ecosystem. The Lab will be intentionally designed to create collaboration and community to combat bias, streamline and ease access to resources, and provide time management solutions. This includes the development of a concierge service for business owners to free up schedules and focus on big-picture business success.

Administered by MassDevelopment, the Collaborative Workspace Program is designed to accelerate the pace of new business formation, job creation, and entrepreneurial activity by supporting infrastructure that funds community-based innovation. Different types of spaces include innovation centers, maker spaces, artist spaces, collaborative kitchens, and co-working spaces.]

Mayor Gina-Louise Sciarra states that:

“I am thrilled to see The Sphere Northampton receiving this significant grant from MassDevelopment,” shared Mayor Sciarra. “This grant will not only revitalize a long-unoccupied space in Florence but also help address critical barriers identified by local women entrepreneurs. The Sphere Innovation Lab is set to become a valuable resource, fostering collaboration, providing access to professional resources, and ultimately, supporting the growth and success of businesses in Northampton. This initiative aligns with our commitment to building a more inclusive and equitable business environment in our city. Congratulations to The Sphere Northampton on this achievement, and I look forward to witnessing the positive impact it will have on our community.”

From Vince Jackson, Executive Director of the Greater Northampton Chamber of Commerce:

“We are committed to our continued partnership with The Sphere and look forward to the impact of a strong network of women and nonbinary businesses on our local economy and community,” said Jackson. “The Sphere Innovation Hub will play a vital role in boosting support for entrepreneurial activity, and this MassDevelopment workspace grant will provide the space and resources to help accelerate business growth and further position Northampton as a great place to start and develop a business.”

The Sphere is dedicated to building an inclusive community that uplifts and inspires women and nonbinary entrepreneurs. By eliminating barriers to starting and continuing to run businesses and making it easier for The Sphere entrepreneurs to access existing resources, we intend to bolster economic development and promote a more equitable business environment in Northampton.

The Sphere was launched as an initiative of the Downtown Northampton Association and is supported by the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative.
The next step for The Sphere Northampton is to document and collect the matching funds for the $100K grant from MassDevelopment. Renovations are expected to begin in January of 2024 and a soft opening is tentatively planned for spring of 2024.

Find out more about the grant here.


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