Lori Trahan secures millions for Lowell music, pandemic recovery of entertainment venues

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LOWELL — U.S. Representative Lori Trahan met with officials from the U.S. Small Business Administration on Wednesday to highlight millions in grants for struggling local businesses, places and organizations.

The funding, totaling approximately $10.4 million in the 3rd Congressional District, is being provided through the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant program, part of a bipartisan COVID-19 relief program adopted during the pandemic that supports music and entertainment businesses affected by quarantine measures and other restrictions.

Trahan and SBA Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman, along with other local representatives, gathered at the Hall of Flags at Lowell Memorial Auditorium to discuss their fundraising support and its impact on Lowell attractions.

Lowell Management Group, which manages the auditorium, received the bulk of the funding at just over $4.4 million. He was one of many local recipients to receive additional funding from the Closed Venue Operators Grant beyond the original award announced last year.

Trahan, who voted for the 2020 relief package and backed funding through the U.S. bailout, said the auditorium was the perfect destination for the event. A graduate of Lowell High School and having attended a number of concerts and performances there, she said the venue symbolizes the many “significant milestones for our community” as the pandemic ends.

“We just saw people set up for their dance recital, last year they did it in a parking lot,” Trahan said in an interview. “It’s so important that people come back to their community with their friends and family.

Local businesses receiving assistance include the Luna Theater at Mill No. 5 ($723,525), the Merrimack Repertory Theater ($544,686) and the Lowell Festival Foundation ($416,949), the latter of which will host the highly anticipated Lowell Folk Festival for the first time in two years this July.

Kevin Dwyer, festival director and coordinator, said it was “a huge relief” to get the grant when the festival returned, and the program was able to “support” as a result.

“With COVID going on, there was no way we could run our events, and then we got into trouble, and we wanted to survive long enough to come out on the other side of the pandemic and come back stronger than ever” , Dwyer said. in an interview. “Having this grant program available to us has allowed us to do that.”

After greetings and thanks from Trahan and Guzman, the couple, accompanied by Mayor Sokhary Chau, state officials Vanna Howard and Rady Mom and others, toured the auditorium briefly as young dancers prepared to perform. their performance.

Pete Lally, president of Lowell Management Group, introduced Guzman to the auditorium, where they discussed the uncertainty and the difficulty of slowly opening up amid the pandemic. Lally joked that he knew too much about air filtration systems.

It was Guzman’s first stop in Lowell as she highlighted the impact of federal dollars in the city. The more than $1.2 trillion in relief distributed by the SBA nationwide “saved so many businesses,” Guzman said, and she’s seen how many have been able to adapt quickly and be resilient.

Guzman added that there was a “small business boom” last year in which Americans started 5.4 million businesses, 20% more than any other year on record, he said. she declared. By creating jobs and growing the economy, entrepreneurs are an asset, Guzman said.

“We really celebrated the work done by the community, as well as Congresswoman Trahan, to ensure that over $10 million from the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant program went to major performing arts venues that needed support. support during this time to survive,” Guzman said. “I see small businesses that the relief was needed to give them the stability to be able to help us continue to grow the economy and they see opportunities on the horizon.”

By investing in local arts programs, Chau said, nearby restaurants, bars and other venues also benefit from increased revenue. Chau noted that one of the auditorium’s first in-person events post-COVID was the Golden Gloves Tournament of Champions final in March, which was economically crucial for the city.

Chau’s 18-year-old son Philip, who learned to play the guitar via YouTube during the pandemic, has increased the family’s involvement in music events across the city, Chau said, adding that the musical entertainment is a prominent feature of the city.

Along with that, Chau mentioned the large immigrant community that owns small businesses in Lowell that need support and how a little financial support can help these small communities “thrive.”

“The immigrant community still has many businesses that are considered mother and parent owned…so small businesses are the backbone of the community,” Chau said. “It’s just great to have all these types of events, and I’m very proud that our city is able to do that, to have the opportunity to bring people together but also to do well economically.”

Trahan said she looks forward to the return of the Folk Festival and that she, like the rest of Lowell, is looking forward to engaging with the town and its people once again.

“Everyone is dying to go back,” Trahan said. “I think in every corner of our city we are seeing the impact of SVOG funding.”

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