Invest North Quabbin a new emergency relief fund

  • Athol Selectboard Chair Rebecca Bialecki FILE PHOTO/GREG VINE

Staff Report
Published: 5/22/2020 3:10:13 PM
Modified: 5/22/2020 3:10:00 PM

The Invest North Quabbin (INQ), an economic development project, has been resurrected to act as an emergency relief fund for small business and families impacted by the coronavirus across the region — Athol, Orange, Petersham, Phillipston, Erving, Wendell, Warwick, Royalston, and New Salem.

Donated funds will support individuals and businesses negatively impacted, and 100 percent of funds raised will be used for this purpose.

A new partnership of the town of Athol, North Quabbin Community Coalition, North Quabbin Chamber of Commerce and Athol Credit Union aims to provide emergency support to individuals, families and small business impacted by COVID-19. Applications are available via the Chamber at or the Coalition at

The fund will distribute 100 percent of donations directly to those in need across the nine-town region.

“We know that at the far reaches of both Worcester and Franklin counties, the North Quabbin’s needs are often overlooked,” said Rebecca Bialecki, Athol Selectboard chair in a prepared statement. “We know that the region is resilient and innovative in times of crisis. We also recognize that our best support comes from within. Working families and those who own and operate very small business locally have been the hardest hit by this pandemic and we needed to find a way to help.”

“There are two major segments of our community that need support — the business side and the human side. This need is best met by two long-term local organizations, the Chamber and the Coalition.” said Melissa Eaton, executive director of the North Quabbin Chamber of Commerce, in a prepared statement.

Courtney Fifield, president of the Athol Credit Union agreed. “As a community development financial institution, the project fits within our mission,” Fifield said in a prepared statement. “Families may have need for funds for prescriptions, food or utility payments. Small business may need a month’s rent to stay afloat until restrictions are lifted.”

Shaun Suhoski quickly identified the ability to leverage the North Quabbin loan fund to support business needs and is working with the Planning Department to modify applications to accommodate micro-lending. The Chamber is also available for technical assistance in the area of re-opening plans, materials needs and assistance with applying for Small Business Loans and grants.

Donations are gratefully accepted by mail marked INQ c/o Athol Credit Union, 513 Main St. Athol or at any its drive-up locations. For more information, contact the North Quabbin Community Coalition at (978)249-3703 or the Chamber at (978)249 3849.

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