MANCHESTER, NH – Manchester’s evolving biofab cluster will fall short if workers can’t get to education opportunities and jobs, prompting a request for proposals on a transportation equity study related to the project.
The study would be heavy on community outreach engagement, particularly historically marginalized populations in the greater Manchester area, the RFP description issued by The Advanced Regenerative Manufacturing Institute (ARMI) and city says.
The RFP asks for scope of work and fee proposals on a study that would engage the community in defining the challenges associated with access and mobility in greater Manchester, as well as specifically within the Millyard, both now and related to proposed development there.
The study will propose strategies to remove transportation barriers for underserved and marginalized populations in the area. It is sponsored through the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Volpe National Transportation Systems Center.
Proposals are due by 4 p.m. Friday, Nov. 17. The study would begin as soon as possible after award notification and must be completed by April 13.
The city was awarded $44 million in grants last year to create jobs in the biomedical manufacturing field, particularly production and distribution of regenerative tissue and organs, with ARMI the key organization. The cluster is expected to create 7,000 direct jobs, and 40,000 indirect jobs. The grants were part of the Build Back Better Regional Challenge program, and Manchester was one of 21 communities nationwide awarded grants.
The largest programmatic (non-construction) element of the funding, according to biofab officials, is the Work & Learn Program, which will provide training, work-study programs, and other career and technical education pathways in biofabrication. The program is led by Southern New Hampshire University, the University of New Hampshire, Manchester Community College and ARMI.
“By focusing on removing barriers to access such as technology, transportation, and language, the Work & Learn Program aims to have at least 30 percent of direct new jobs created filled by area residents most in need, increasing their ability to earn a family-supporting wage,” the RFP announcement said.
Transportation access will be a crucial piece to the program’s success, those involved in the project said. “Transportation is one of the key barriers historically underserved and marginalized populations face in accessing family supporting wages,” the announcement said.
The majority of jobs created by the biofabrication cluster will be in the Millyard. The study will also identify and propose strategies to reduce reliance on automobiles within the Millyard to provide congestion relief, improved air quality, and safer streets for pedestrians and cyclists, it said. That aligns with the U.S. Economic Development Administration’s “investment priority” of environmentally sustainable development.
The RFP seeks applicants who are experienced with developing and executing a community outreach and engagement plan, which “is key to the success of the transportation equity study.”
“This will ensure the voices of the community members and their lived experiences are directly incorporated into defining the specific challenges associated with access and mobility” in the area and the Millyard.
The proposal stresses that the design process should remain neutral with regard to eventual proposed solutions, focusing on ensuring that input from communities throughout the area, including those historically marginalized, is effectively represented.
The work will include:
Designing and executing a community outreach and engagement plan “that centers the voices and wisdom of historically underserved and marginalized populations and synthesizes actionable information to inform enhanced transportation equity in greater Manchester.”
Analysis and data reporting to achieve effective, equitable representation of greater Manchester communities, and, in coordination with Volpe, a final report that “identifies themes and proposed solutions for the transportation equity study.”