It was 1821 when Nathan Appleton and Patrick Jackson were lured to the farmland of what was then East Chelmsford by the enticing 34-foot, 10,000-horsepower drop of the Pawtucket Falls, the key to unlocking a gold mine of hydro-powered manufacturing.
Appleton’s dream was to build a textile-mill system just as successful as those he toured in England and Scotland, but without creating the stepped-upon, downtrodden working class he met overseas. Appleton’s model hinged on his strong moral and social consciousness. Better wages. Pride in their work. A better life.
That dream became America’s first planned industrial city, the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution – Lowell, Massachusetts.
In today’s Lowell, you may see Samir ElKamouny peddling around Lowell, promoting his dream – Green Bikes Lowell, an affordable bike sharing business that will be launched in the spring.
Like Appleton before him, ElKamouny sees a bigger picture than just his business; he will be employing young people from UTEC and Youth Build, teaching them not only how to fix and maintain bikes, but also the administrative tasks that go with running a business.
From Appleton to ElKamouny; from George Carleton and Charles Hovey’s creation of Father John’s Medicine and Dr. Augustin Thompson’s beloved/reviled Moxie to Dr. An Wang’s computer empire, Elkin McCallum’s Joan Fabrics and Lydia Blanchard’s s’mores, Lowell has always been a place where entrepreneurship has survived and thrived.
Though the concepts and characters vary wildly, each story shares common characteristics: passion, buy-in, persistence, and vision. Big, broad vision.
On Wednesday September 25 at 6 p.m., the Lowell Heritage Partnership will present Lowell: The Entrepreneurial City, a fun and informative panel discussion, celebrating the city’s history of entrepreneurship, exploring where it stands today and looking into the future at the Merrimack Valley Sandbox’s headquarters in the Wannalancit Mills on Cabot Street.
Speakers include Registrar of Deeds and author of Legendary Locals of Lowell Richard Howe, Jr., Theresa Park from the City of Lowell’s Economic Development Office, David Parker from the Merrimack Valley Sandbox and Professor Steve Tello of UMass Lowell’s Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship.
Richard Howe Jr. and Paul Marion. Photo/James Ostis.
“From the moment of its founding, Lowell was a magnet for creative, innovative, energetic individuals,” Howe says in describing the evening’s topic, “In many ways it was the Silicon Valley of 19th century America.”
The discussion is not limited to examining the city’s past.
“Invention and imagination are part of the Lowell spirit today, in keeping with the outstanding heritage of the city as a center of innovation,” said Paul Marion, president of the Lowell Heritage Partnership, who will serve as the discussion’s moderator.
Director of Economic Development Theresa Park
“The City of Lowell has deep roots in entrepreneurship, one that parallels the city’s industrial history. And it’s as relevant to our economic development strategy now as it was then,” said Park.
Given the theme of the event will be fittingly held at the Wannalancit Mills building, 175 Cabot St, in the new space of the Merrimack Valley Sandbox.
The Wannalancit Mills buildings once hosted the thriving Suffolk Cotton Mills. Today the Mill is home to over 50 commercial tenants working in cutting edge research, social services, environmental studies and communications product development.
The Sandbox, founded in 2010, is a nonprofit organization dedicated to boosting the economic and social well-being of greater Lowell and Lawrence by advancing entrepreneurship and innovation.
For more information, including how to register for this FREE event, visit www.lowellheritagepartnership.org. Or contact James Ostis at firstname.lastname@example.org.