“I have to be honest and very candid … 90 percent of the stuff that you see directed toward people of color is garbage,” he said yesterday during a morning business event hosted in partnership with the Fitchburg Chamber Visitor and Business Bureau. “And here’s why I say that. Because it does not empower those communities to be self-sufficient and build. What it does do is hand money out for a moment of time, and then after that money is gone, what do you have left?”

Fields, who is Black, highlighted efforts by MadREP to be more purposeful in its workforce development for these communities, pointing to a pilot program providing transportation to workers in the region. He contrasted this effort with “fluff and dandelion stuff,” criticizing programs that he says provide funding without understanding the true needs of recipient communities.

“What you’ve done is you’ve opened up the floodgates with investments of money, but we didn’t help anybody. That’s a drug deal. You got somebody high off some money, and then when they needed more, the trough is empty,” he said. “Without technical training, without understanding what these businesses really need, you didn’t do squat, and it pisses me off.”

He argued when funding is provided that doesn’t foster self-sufficiency, “that hurts all of us.” He urged attendees to question “are we really empowering people to be successful, or are we just chasing headlines?”