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Campus-Business Partnerships Pushed

By From the Lowell Sun

LOWELL -- UMass Lowell Chancellor Marty Meehan wants his colleagues to start thinking more like entrepreneurs.

And he's hoping a collaboration between two Lowell businesses at the edge of the university's North Campus will lead to closer partnerships between UMass Lowell and the city's business community.

Meehan joined officials from the Lowell Five Cent Savings Bank; members of the Adie family, which owns some 25 area Dunkin' Donuts; and city leaders and business people for a luncheon at Cobblestones Restaurant and Bar yesterday.

In the past year, the Adies purchased the former Gagnon Hardware building on University Avenue, refurbished it, and created retail space on the ground floor to accommodate a Dunkin' Donuts and Lowell Five branch, both of which opened at the start of the school year.

"They (the Adies) did a great job with a dilapidated building," said Lowell Five President and CEO Robert Caruso. "Most of our branches are 2,000 square feet. This one is 600, so we had to be creative.

"It's off to a good start," he said.

Tom Adie said the project marked a new concept for his family's business as well.

"We've had standalone buildings with drive-thrus," he said, adding that the newest shop relies more on foot traffic. "This was done for urban appeal."

While the university doesn't directly benefit from a financial standpoint, Meehan sees the project as a way of encouraging other businesses to want to work with the university.

"We hope to get businesses like Dunkin' Donuts and McDonald's on campus," he said, adding that he and the Adies have had discussions about that very thing happening. "The things we do on campus, the businesses that spin off from our research, are absolutely crucial to our regional economy. So we have to keep thinking of ways to raise revenue."

The Adies own 25 Dunkin' Donuts locations in Lowell and surrounding communities. In 1968, Tom Adie's father, William, started the first store on Chelmsford Street in Chelmsford, just off I-495.

Founded in 1854, the Lowell Five is the city's oldest financial institution. As part of the University Avenue branch, the bank has offered a so-called CampusWorks account. Specifically designed for college students, the account offers no monthly maintenance fees, no minimum balance, free online banking, a debit card and overdraft protection.