An Initiative for Massachusetts Smaller Cities


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The Fostering Entrepreneurial Diversity in Lowell Initiative

City leaders of Lowell are partnering with Merrimack Valley Sandbox, the Coalition for a Better Acre, and a broad coalition of banks that are creating a lending pool for immigrant small business—Eastern Bank, Enterprise Bank, Jean D’Arc Credit Union, and Washington Savings Bank—to implement the Fo stering Entrepreneurial Diversity in Lowell Initiative. The initiative is designed to encourage small business development in Lowell among the city’s immigrant population to create a welcoming and supportive ecosystem. The effort will seek to remove traditional barriers to success for immigrant-owned small businesses through the creation of a Community Ambassadors Institute to connect immigrant entrepreneurs to small business training and resources. The Institute will provide training in community organization and advocacy, networking, outreach skills, and small business resources.

map of massachusetts showing lowell

Learn about Lowell

Although Lowell was once known as “Spindle City,” its textile industry was in decline as far back as the 1920s. The restored mills, boarding houses, and canals of the Lowell National Historical Park are all that remains of the industry that produced cotton textiles for the world and drew immigrants from far and wide. But over the years, Lowell has managed to reinvent itself and find its place in the postindustrial economy.

photo of lowell

Census data show that Lowell's population peaked in 1920 at 112,759, declined somewhat, and stood at 106,519 in 2010.

Lowell MA
Persons under 18 years 23.7% 21.7%
Persons 65 years and over 10.1% 13.8%
American Indian and Alaska Native 0.3% 0.3%
Asian alone 20.2% 5.3%
Black or African-American alone 6.8% 6.6%
Hispanic or Latino 17.3% 9.6%
Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander <0.1% 0.0%
Two or more races 3.6% 2.6%
White alone 60.3% 80.4%
White alone (not Hispanic or Latino) 52.8% 76.1%

Nearly one-fifth of the city’s population is Asian, with smaller but strong presences from Latin America and Africa (all 52 counties). It also is home to the second-largest population of Cambodians in the United States.

"One hundred feet above sea level, on a plateau where the powerful Merrimack joins the sluggish Concord River, stands Lowell, one of the leading manufacturing cities of New England. Canals and grassy plots criss-cross the crowded metropolitan business section. On the hills beyond are a city's homes from mansion to tenement."

Massachusetts: A Guide to Its Places and People, 1937

photo of lowellphoto of lowellphoto of lowell

According to the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey five-year estimates for 2007-2011, 24.4% of Lowell residents are foreign born, compared with 14.7% statewide. The city has the largest community of ethnic Cambodians in the United States in terms of percentage. (The ethnic Cambodian population of Long Beach, California, is higher in absolute numbers.)

  • 10.8% born in Africa
  • 52.1% born in Asia
  • 10.8% born in Europe
  • 25.2% born in Latin America
  • 0.9% born in Northern America
  • 0.2% born in Oceania

The American Community Survey also shows that:

  • The homeownership rate is 48.9%, compared with 63.6% statewide.
  • Lowell’s median home value is $242,600, compared with $343,500 statewide.
  • Median household income is $51,471, compared with $65,981 statewide.
  • 78.3% of Lowell residents 25 and over have graduated high school, compared with 88.9% statewide.
  • 23.3% have earned a bachelor’s degree, compared with 38.7% statewide.
  • 17.6% of Lowell residents are below the poverty level, compared with 10.7% statewide
  • The percentage of Lowellians having at least some college grew by 20% since 2000, and the percentage with an associate’s degree grew 50% over that same period.
link to city data snapshot of lowell

Compare a range of demographic data for Lowell’s low- and moderate-income populations. 
Use the tool

in-depth data dashboard pdfs

Check out detailed stats on income, employment, education, health, and more provided by Clark University researchers for the Working Cities Challenge.

photo of lowell

According to the Massachusetts Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development, as of June 2013, Lowell’s unemployment rate was 9.3%, compared with 7.4% statewide. According to the City of Lowell, Lowell’s five largest employers are:

  • Lowell General Hospital
  • University of MA Lowell
  • Saints Medical Center
  • Demoulas Market Basket
  • Middlesex Community College

The city just conducted a planning process and launched their new master plan, Sustainable Lowell 2025, which focuses on livability, place making, longevity, responsibility.

Lowell also is home to more than 200 annual festivals, attracting 3 million visitors to the city each year, including the Lowell Folk Festival, with an annual economic impact of $9.5 million.

Lowell is part of the Merrimack Valley Sandbox, an initiative geared at boosting the economic and social well-being of greater Lowell and Lawrence by advancing entrepreneurship and innovation. The sandbox is sponsored by the Deshpande Foundation and housed at the UMASS Lowell Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.