Lever Launches Second Mohawk Trail Entrepreneurship Challenge
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Lever will launch a second Mohawk Trail Entrepreneurship Challenge (MTEC) this month focusing on wood product enterprises, thanks to a $60,000 grant from the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EOEEA).
Lever's MTEC seeks to attract forestry-based and wood-using startups, excluding businesses focused on wood-based fuels.
"Our Challenge programs have allowed us to support more than 80 entrepreneurs, whose companies have created hundreds of jobs," said Lever Executive Director Jeffrey Thomas. "I'm looking forward to meeting our Mohawk Trail Entrepreneur Challenge finalists and working with them to refine their business plans toward the goal of creating sustainable jobs for people in the region."
Finalists must be located in the Mohawk Trail region. The Challenge, which will begin recruiting this month and announce finalists in November, is limited to eight companies. These finalists will complete a nine-month Lever acceleration program culminating in a final pitch event in May 2022, with the winning company receiving $25,000 for its innovative business model.
The MTEC aims to maximize regional economic impact through businesses that can attract revenue from areas outside the Mohawk Trail region, create new jobs, and attract financing from multiple sources. Entrepreneurs or businesses must be located in a Mohawk Trail Woodlands Partnership member town; be less than a year old and earn no more than $500,000 in revenue; and incorporate resilience to climate change. Eligible businesses can apply at www.leverinc.org.
The first MTEC also focused on woodlands-based businesses. The first MTEC winners were Patrick and Katie Banks of Foolhardy Hill in Charlemont, a campground with private cabins that has continued to draw tourism to the region.
Ten municipalities and two regional economic development organizations received funding through the EOEEA. These grants are designed to support forest stewardship and conservation, trail improvements, and nature-based tourism in the Mohawk Trail Woodlands Partnership Region.
The Mohawk Trail Woodlands Partnership is a grass-roots led program based on conserving forests and supporting sustainable management as a way to advance economic development in rural communities along the Vermont and New York borders. The program provides funding to assist towns in the Commonwealth's most rural and forested region to plan for the care of forests in the face of climate change, prepare forest offset projects, and improve nature-based tourism by improving trail networks, infrastructure, and educational exhibits. The MTEC will draw entrepreneurs from all sixteen Mohawk Trail Woodlands Partnership towns, including North Adams, Adams, and Clarksburg.