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Lamb Encourages North Adams To Create New Grants Position For 2022 Budget

This is a rendering of wayfaring signs North Adams unveiled in October 2015.
Facebook: North Adams Chamber of Commerce

A North Adams, Massachusetts city councilor is pushing the city to establish a Grants and Communications Coordinator in the fiscal year 2022 budget.

Benjamin Lamb made his pitch to the council at its bimonthly meeting Tuesday night.

“As a city we have the potential for massive opportunities and growth and improvement," he said. "We adequately leverage the various resources for funding and support that exists in foundations, and at local, state and federal levels. Unfortunately, the various grants and programs that exist require a significant amount of time and energy to discover apply for, track and report on.”

Lamb said this function has to date been delegated as an added duty across municipal departments with varying amounts of resources to address it.

“This creates a model of inefficiency, inequity and incomplete data, and ultimately an under supported approach to grant acquisition and application within the municipal structure,” said the councilor.

He said that establishing an official grants writer position could lead to a return of 50 times the average salary of between around $44,000 and $57,000 a year.

“In North Adams, we have lacked formalized structure for seeking out and applying for administering, tracking and strategically allocating grants," said Lamb. "We have seen gaps in the conveying of these critical efforts to the public. These are missed opportunities and ones that we can no longer overlook. As we look to how we plan to retain quality staff, tackle the massive amounts of infrastructure work that must be undertaken and address the variety of wants and needs we have for our community’s future, a strategic approach to grants and resource acquisition will be paramount.”

Lamb said the proposed new position wouldn’t just be a magnet for grant money, but also a go-between for city departments to coordinate efforts.

“I envisioned this position would be primarily focused on seeking out applying for administering and tracking grants for the city," he told the council. "They would additionally function as the primary point person to all city departments when it comes to grant management and would act as a key outward communication hub on the wide array of city endeavors. In this model, we could continue to benefit from the specialized grants that departments regularly apply for but with a more comprehensive citywide strategy and approach to garnering broader resource pools, while our capacity to convey information on projects and ongoing efforts would also be greatly improved.”

Questioned about funding the position, Lamb said that administrative fees from a cumulative number of grants could provide for the salary.

Councilor Marie Harpin noted that the city’s Director of Community Development, Michael Nuvallie, had written grants for a number of North Adams projects over the years.

“I think he wrote the grants for the sprinkler Park, the armory, the parking lot at the Greylock Mills,” she said.

Lamb praised Nuvallie’s work, and underscored that the goal of the new position would be to consolidate disparate efforts into one cohesive vision.

“The piecemeal piece is really the biggest part of this and as well as the communication part, because when people are filling out these grant applications, they tend to be the most knowledgeable on these particular topics," said Lamb. "And it creates a positive outward communication strategy and we regularly talk about wanting more transparency and communication. This has been another angle that this opportunity provides.”

Lamb’s communication was referred to the finance committee and Mayor Tom Bernard’s office with a return date for the council’s second meeting in April.

Fiscal year 2022 begins July 1st.

Josh Landes has been WAMC's Berkshire Bureau Chief since February 2018, following stints at WBGO Newark and WFMU East Orange. A passionate advocate for Western Massachusetts, Landes was raised in Pittsfield and attended Hampshire College in Amherst, receiving his bachelor's in Ethnomusicology and Radio Production. His free time is spent with his cat Harry, experimental electronic music, and exploring the woods.
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