Lupoli to Habitat Officials: Make it a Priority to Invest

BEDFORD -- Pizza magnate Sal Lupoli could have stayed home Tuesday morning and reflected on his mother's recent death. Instead, the Lupoli Companies CEO gave the keynote address at an executive breakfast for Habitat for Humanity, whose mission is precisely one she would have endorsed.

"I mean, you have an army," Lupoli said. "One million volunteers. That's incredible. You serve 100,000 families, just in Lowell."

He related his humble beginnings in East Boston and Chelmsford to the struggling families Habitat for Humanity serves, giving them an opportunity to succeed.

"I tell people it's not Sal Lupoli. It's the people who helped create Sal Lupoli," he said.

Lupoli, who owns several mill buildings in Lawrence, believes it is incumbent upon entrepreneurs to spearhead economic development by doing what they do best: entrepreneurship.

"I think for the companies that have been around longer, and for people that have means ... should make it a priority to invest in businesses, invest in buildings and invest in opportunity in these disadvantaged communities," Lupoli said.

Habitat for Humanity board President Jim Silva said the nonprofit has worked closely with Harvard University and Lowell police to quantify its "three major impacts" on the community.

"We wanted to get metrics and ask, 'are we making a difference?' " Silva said.

 The four homes built on Rock Street in Lowell will result in $15,000 in local spending and $2,600 in fees and taxes for the local government, according to research conducted by Harvard and the Joint Center for Housing Studies.

 Data from Lowell Police shows a reduction in crime in the area surrounding the new homes, which sit on the former site of a dilapidated auto body shop.

 "They have pride in that place. They own that house," Silva said.

 He also cited a 2013 survey conducted by the Coalition for a Better Acre, indicating that 72 percent of residents believe the neighborhood will change for the better over the next three years.

 Stacey Santiago, whose son Miguel is disabled, will soon move with her family into a handicapped-accessible home on Friendship Street in Billerica. Fighting back tears, she thanked Habitat.

"I just want him to have a home, to live happily, and it's so hard," Santiago said.

 

By Kyle Clauss·  October 21, 2014·  The Lowell Sun