WOONSOCKET – Three young professionals who helped make the Main Street Block Party a success have formed a new organization designed to support existing businesses and nurture startups.
The Woonsocket Pothier Foundation is the brainchild of real estate developer Albert G. Beauparlant Jr., Matthew Moylan and Eric Cartier.
The nonprofit organization was named in honor of Aram Pothier, an early twentiethcentury mayor and state governor often credited with turning the city into the boomtown of the textile era by recruiting industrialists from France and Belgium.
The incorporation papers were drawn up by lawyer Aram Pothier Jarret III, great-great grandnephew of the mill-building mayor, and filed with the secretary of state’s office on Friday, according to Beauparlant.
The organization was inspired by and modeled after the Pawtucket Foundation, a seven-year-old nonprofit with nearly 50 board members and a small paid staff to run day-to-day operations, according to Beauparlant. The goal is to provide support, advocacy and direction for the city’s business community, especially its budding arts-and-entertainment based economy, according to Beauparlant, a member of the Woonsocket Redevelopment Agency who was a leading engineer of the block party.
“First and foremost, we’re going to be advocating for some of the downtown projects, probably be giving some recommendations for zoning laws in order to make it easier for business to exist and new capital to come into Woonsocket,” said Beauparlant.
Some first steps will be to bring in representatives of existing businesses, big and small, private nonprofits and government agencies to serve on the board. They also intend to develop a mission statement and seek seed money to establish a headquarters, probably somewhere downtown, according to Beauparlant.
Eventually, he said, the group will hire a director and a grant writer to execute specific plans.
“What is critical here is we focus on creating a better environment for business to thrive in,” said Moylan. “We will be helping public, private and nonprofit agencies build infrastructure, transportation improvements. We’re not out particularly recruiting business, we’re not the Chamber of Commerce. We’re not NeighborWorks. We are focused on creating environment that will attract and draw business.”
Moylan is the managing partner of Ciro’s Tavern and co-founder of Woonsocket-based Output Management Group, which he describes as a “work flow efficiency” consulting firm. Cartier is a 22-year veteran of CVS/Caremark and is also running for a seat on the City Council.
Cartier says one of the reasons for founding the organization is to establish a mission for the city that doesn’t depend on the whims of changing political administrations. The Woonsocket Pothier Foundation will pursue an independent mission regardless of who is in charge of City Hall.
Moylan was the fundraising chairman for the Main Street Block Party which took place in August, marking the 125th anniversary of the city’s founding. Cartier was his assistant. Some 32,000 visitors attended the block party, which featured 28 rock bands and other artists on a dozen stages stretching from Monument to Market squares.
As they canvassed businesses for donations to support the block party, Moylan said it became apparent to him that many small businesses would benefit greatly from specialized training on how to carve a niche in a competitive market.
“One of the first things we’re probably going to do is set up some kind of entrepreneurship training,” he said. “One of the things we found were businesses that were lacking the skill sets to survive in the marketplace.”
Follow Russ Olivo on Twitter @russolivo