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  • Lawrence Partnership

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: MV coordinates PPE procurement and distribution for small businesses



Small businesses in the Merrimack Valley are getting a much needed boost as they start the process of reopening with a new initiative aimed at sourcing and distributing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to maintain compliance with new regulations as they welcome staff and customers back.  The program not only serves as an economic stimulus, saving valuable dollars for small businesses as they start the long journey of reopening, but also addresses the huge logistical burden of finding and securing high demand products, especially in smaller quantities.

Mayor Rivera remarked that, “I want to thank the Essex County Community Foundation (ECCF) for managing the Merrimack Valley Business Resiliency and Recovery Fund as well as Jonathan Isaacson and Gem Group for being a major contributing partner in getting masks in hand to help our business community get back to work,” said Mayor Rivera. “Not since the Civil War has our economy been hit like this. It is crucial that we get our businesses back up and running safely, and Gem Group has helped make this happen by producing masks to keep employees and patrons safe.”

The program is being piloted in Lawrence, where hundreds of businesses have already received a month’s worth of masks along with a visit from a local inspector to support them understanding the new regulations.  In coming weeks, the program is set to grow both in Lawrence and in neighboring communities of Andover and North Andover, expanding beyond masks to include other key products such as face shields and sanitizer.  Derek Mitchell, the Executive Director of the Lawrence Partnership, one of the lead organizations coordinating the effort, added that “being able to source many of the products locally means that we are also contributing to strengthening local supply chains and creating additional economic impact.”  Gem Group, a global manufacturer with their international headquarters in Lawrence, has been a vital partner in that process, both by helping with the sourcing of multiple products on behalf of businesses and supporting the logistics of distribution.

Funding for the effort has been provided by the Merrimack Valley Business Resiliency and Recovery Fund, managed by ECCF.  “This fund, which was created as a result of the Columbia Gas disaster, works to support a comprehensive set of strategies to support individual business success and the long-term resiliency of the small business ecosystem, which extends to alignment and broad collaboration across the region,” says Stratton Lloyd COO and Vice President of community leadership at ECCF. “In this time of crisis, the collaborative spirit, grit and trust established during the Gas disaster has been critical to a rapid and agile response.”

North Andover Town Manager Melissa Murphy-Rodrigues remarked “Working collaboratively with our neighboring communities and regional partners during this challenging time has provided a tremendous

While this initial pilot is meant to facilitate companies getting back on their feet, it is not meant to serve as a long-term solution.  To complement the PPE procurement and distribution process, an additional catalogue of locally available products is being created and maintained by a partnering collaborative, Manufacturing Bilingual Solutions.  The up to date resource guide, which includes everything from cleaning supplies to sanitizer, can be found at


Derek Mitchell, Lawrence Partnership

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