Haverhill-based Merrimack Valley Planning Commission is receiving a $37,500 federal grant to build an online data clearinghouse for the Merrimack Valley, which is aimed at growing business and helping the region recover from gas explosions that devastated the communities of Andover, Lawrence and North Andover during September of 2018.
Using Geographic Information System software as the foundation, this clearinghouse will be a public tool capable of instantly accessing data for this region, including demographic, employment, industry, income, education, commuting, rental and housing data.
The Commission’s Community and Economic Development Planner Nate Robertson said, “We’re living in the era of big data. This information shapes how we direct public resources and how businesses make decisions. Bringing the latest in data processing technology and making that available to our communities allows us to serve the region in a really essential way. The Merrimack Valley Data Portal will help people discover important information about their communities and the region as a whole.”
Congresswoman Lori Trahan, who announced the grant along with the rest of the state’s federal delegation, said, “One of the lessons we learned in the aftermath of the Merrimack Valley gas explosions was that a lack of coordinated data can slow a recovery. The Merrimack Valley Planning Commission is now leading us in preparedness by building a database of critical information that will help sustain and improve the recovery process now and should another crisis arise.” She added, “The information that will be collected can easily be used by all of our Merrimack Valley cities and towns in bolstering economic development efforts and planning.”
The grant comes from the U.S. Economic Development Administration.