Inside Stories

Lowell’s Business Community Weighs in on the ICC

By Allison Lamey, Executive Director of The Lowell Plan and Danielle McFadden, President of the Greater Lowell Chamber of Commerce

Photo courtesy of the UML ICC’s Website.

The ICC, a cornerstone of Lowell’s economic revitalization, has long played a pivotal role in the city’s cultural and economic landscape.  Over the years, the ICC has been a hub for various events and gatherings, from hosting artists and entertainers during the annual Folk Festival to welcoming visitors attending the Lowell Summer Music Festival. It has been a home away from home for families visiting students at UMass Lowell and a pivotal venue for conferences and community events.

While the decision to temporarily repurpose the ICC as a shelter for migrant families is a compassionate response to the current situation, we are calling for transparency and local stakeholder involvement in shaping the building’s future use, as stated in our letters below.

The ICC is a critical economic engine in our downtown.  We cannot stress enough how vital the ICC and the conference center are to the downtown’s viability and vitality.

Our key concerns include gaining a better understanding of the expected duration of the emergency declaration and the temporary shelter arrangement. We are also eager for opportunities to participate in discussions about the long-term plan for the ICC to ensure its continued contribution to the local economy.

The city of Lowell has always succeeded when we work together.  Preserving the ICC’s role as a vibrant economic and cultural asset in our downtown is critical. We look forward to working with our local and state partners to find solutions that support both our social responsibilities and economic growth.

As Lowell navigates these complex challenges, we are confident that the resilience and adaptability of its business community will shine through, reflecting the city’s commitment to a prosperous future that balances compassion with economic vitality.


12 responses to “Lowell’s Business Community Weighs in on the ICC”

  1. Steve Hadley says:

    Perfectly Said ‼️‼️‼️

  2. Ellen Andre says:

    The ICC is truly what both of you have stated. Both letters are well written and deserve answers to your questions. You diplomatically represent local businesses, downtown residents and our citizens. How can the governor possibly have a plan for “what’s next” for the so called “temporary housing” situation? If that were true it would be spelled out in a strategic plan with next steps. They will be there to stay because the initial bandaid was applied and you will see “temporary extension after temporary extension”, I guarantee it. Transparency and full disclosure, which just might be…we have no idea, what’s next.

  3. Jeanne Osborn, Former CEO Greater Lowell Chamber of Commerce says:

    Well done Lowell Plan and Chamber! As a permanent resident of Florida I still keep up with the local happenings in my home town. The ICC is an integral part of the fabric of Lowell and the business community and must continue to serve the non-profit, visitors and businesses of the GL community. The business community, theatres, festivals and events crucially need a hotel to host guests and visitors

  4. Robert Casey says:

    Exactly, which is why determining alternatives to the wholesale conversion of the ICC as a temporary shelter should be given highest priority.

  5. Kathy Laderoute says:

    Well said! We support your efforts completely! We have come to far as a city to let this undo the hard work of so many to improve our home and our local businesss. We can just sit by and watch it get ruined. Thank you for speaking up for us all

  6. Erik says:

    I think the ICC is only one dot of the issue in Lowell,the city needs a massive overhaul and revitalization plan, sidewalks and trash and the 2-3 dozen abandoned buildings in downtown.Take a page from the Worcester rebuild.

  7. Andree Tannous says:

    We agree with all the concerns expressed so far. We are very concerned by what will happen to downtown Lowell. Are the Lowell residents powerless in this process? Is there something we can do?

  8. Noreen Dunlavey MacDonald says:

    Grew up in Lowell. Moved away many years ago. But, always kept a pulse on what was happening. I moved back to Lowell 7 years ago. I agree with “Erik’s” comments. ICC is only one of the issues the City is facing. However, I do believe it is a HUGE issue. Governor needs to present a plan – HOW LONG will the “TEMPORARY HOUSING” last. Also agree with Ellen’s comment that it is very likely (with no solid Governor plan) that the “temporary” will become “permanent”. Jeanne Osburn hit the nail on the head – we have so many wonderful events happening – and, many of them are attended by out of town guests – we NEED THE ICC to be just that: “INN AND CONFERENCE CENTER. If any of you need volunteers to support the effort, I am available.

  9. Shawn Mulligan says:

    If there was any vision of Downtown Lowell to respond to the economic disaster that has plagued this area , it is now gone,,, the immigrant population will only put a damper on any business and place a bigger burden on the al ready fragile school system, temporary is a term the us Lowellians are familiar with , like a bridge for 30 plus years, this will have no positive impact on our city

  10. Jason Lee says:

    Rourke Bridge Safety Concern.
    Residents in Lowell have an issue on a bridge for 30 plus years. This will be a problem in our City.

  11. Elise Martin says:

    Very well said, Allison and Danielle. I share your sentiments and concerns re: the ICC and its impact on the downtown and the entire city.

    Lowell has always and will continue to welcome immigrants – new arrivals from other countries are a big part of what makes this such a special city. We have done this for the 5 decades I have lived here, for thousands of new immigrants, providing housing and needed services.

    I worked at the International Institute in the 80s, helping newly arrived Southeast Asian families find housing, jobs, language skills and Lowell Public Schools support for their children. In return, so many of those newly-arrived immigrants have made Lowell their home and given so much back to this city. We did not repurpose an integral business and building in the downtown to do that work then. I can’t imagine that this was the only option for providing housing and needed services to new arrivals now.

    Was there preliminary discussion with the City Manager and and other Lowell organizations such as yourselves? How can we ensure that there is dialogue that includes input from city representatives, along with transparency, going forward?

  12. M. Dawson says:

    I dread the impact this will have on the long standing Folk Festival. For years the ICC has been the place where artists, staff and musicians have had base close to the stages and other offerings during that weekend. What is the Festival supposed to do now? Shuttle everyone from 4-5 surrounding towns where rooms might be available? With staff in Chelmsford and artists in Dracut or Westford? Or would they need to beg the temporary use of empty student housing from UMass – who god knows already owns most of the city property it seems. It would not surprise me if UMass decided to charge exorbitant fees for dinky rooms and shared bathrooms.

    Helping people who have had to leave their own country due to war or persecution is a noble thing. However, Lowell seems to not be doing that great a job in providing for the needy and disadvantaged who already live here – so where are the magic resources coming from to help more people? I mean god forbid that any local development actually help struggling families. Case in point – the huge complex going up on the corner of Cabot and Middlesex. Condos. Just what we do NOT need more of. Overpriced housing in the Acre instead of actually building decent new accommodations for the working poor who struggle to pay rent and pray they don’t get sick.

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