The Merrimack Valley Planning Commission is going to the state well again to support its revamp of a business website. The commission, which once was the primary beneficiary of a $100,000 state grant to build Haverhill Means Business, is seeking another $115,000 from the state.
Ten years ago, haverhillmeansbusiness.com was launched as part of a partnership of the commission, Greater Haverhill Chamber of Commerce and city of Haverhill. Before the site could be completed, however, the partners spent the grant money on something else and appealed to a local business for help.
“Even though it was not invited to bid on the original project, COCO+CO. stepped up, constructed the public portions of the website and donated more than $2,000 of its own money,” recalled Tim Coco, president of COCO+CO. He said the partnership was desperate to have a website to show for a previously scheduled open house in Ward Hill. The commission was then operated by Gaylord Burke, and Jerrard Whitten managed the website project for the agency. Today, former Methuen Mayor Dennis A. DiZoglio serves as executive director.
The HaverhillMeansBusiness.com website ultimately became today’s mvmb.biz. The original Web address points to a site with the message, “We are pleased to announce that an updated Merrimack Valley Means Business website will soon be released, featuring user-friendly community profiles and a streamlined property search tool. Stay tuned…” COCO+CO. again was not invited to bid on the latest incarnation.
Haverhill-based Merrimack Valley Planning Commission now says it is seeking “$115,000 from the state’s Community Innovation Challenge Grant. The application’s focus on economic development is unusual, as most of the prior winners of CIC grants revolve around municipal services such as schools and storm-water management.”
Haverhill Mayor James J. Fiorentini said Monday he was unaware of the site’s history when he offered a quotation for a commission press release. “Economic development anywhere in the region helps Haverhill. A new company in Haverhill means that there is more employment for people in the area. A new company in a surrounding community means more job opportunities for our citizens,” the release said.
Shortly after the website launch in 2004, the Greater Haverhill Chamber of Commerce further rewarded the agency its “Small Business of the Month” designation even though the commission is a quasi-public government agency. The agency is funded by state aid deducted from the communities of Amesbury, Andover, Haverhill, Lawrence, Methuen, Newburyport, North Andover and Salisbury.