Focus Areas

Community Resilience

Mt. Auburn has worked with communities and regions recovering from crises, including natural disasters related to climate change and man-made disasters, helping them develop strategies that foster short-term recovery and long-term economic growth.

Merrimack Valley Disaster Recovery Assistance

On September 13, 2018, the communities of Andover, Lawrence, and North Andover were rocked by as many as 80 explosions and fires caused by over-pressurized gas lines owned by Columbia Gas. The disaster damaged or destroyed more than 130 buildings, displaced residents, and killed one person. The disaster also created an economic shock to the small business ecosystem in the area. Our team worked with a broad coalition in the affected areas, including the city of Lawrence, towns of Andover and North Andover, Essex County Community Foundation, Lawrence Partnership, EforAll/EparaTodos, Mill Cities Community Investments, Merrimack Valley Career Center, and Massachusetts Growth Capital Corporation, to inform and support strategy development to improve the business support system in the affected area. We developed recommendations for building a strong and resilient business recovery and support ecosystem based on input from local stakeholders, an understanding of the regional context, and national best practices. According to the coalition, by May 2019, more than 70 percent of the nearly 900 small locally-owned businesses impacted by the explosions returned to pre-crisis operations.

Cross-Sector Collaboratives and Their Role in Responding to Crisis

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) commissioned Mt. Auburn to research if and how cross-sector partnerships helped position communities to be more adaptive in responding to the COVID-19 crisis and calls for racial justice across the United States. When the COVID-19 pandemic began in the spring of 2020, we observed a pattern in which communities that developed cross-sector collaboratives as part of multisite initiatives were often swift in responding to the crisis and effective in addressing emergency needs. We worked with RWJF to identify six multisite initiatives that supported cross-sector partnerships with a strong equity lens, including several in which Mt. Auburn served as the lead evaluator. The team primarily gathered data and insights through interviews with representatives from more than 40 sites and other stakeholders involved in these national multisite initiatives. Our research resulted in a final external report that included key findings and four case studies on communities with noteworthy responses.

view the report (pdf)

World Trade Center Economic Recovery: Rebuilding the Economy of Lower Manhattan

For Empire State Development Corporation (ESD), Mt. Auburn assessed New York State Economic Recovery Programs designed in response to the September 11th attacks. Mt. Auburn's work focused primarily on ESD's business outreach efforts, early economic recovery activity, and the design and implementation of its business loan and grant programs. We found that the recovery programs reached a large proportion of impacted businesses in Lower Manhattan and were implemented in a timely fashion. Our report recommended a review of federal laws and a revision of policies to address the economic recovery needs of large-scale disasters and that state and local governments, with the help of the Department of Homeland Security, take measures to better prepare for economic emergencies.