Advancing Economic Inclusion in Boston's Business Community

Advancing Economic Inclusion in Boston's Business Community

Boston's businesses are helping to advance racial equity in the city. These companies are working to diversify their suppliers, boards, and staffs. They're also creating opportunities for minority-owned businesses.

Join us to hear about the work they do every day. Hosted by The Office of Mayor Martin J. Walsh, in partnership with the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce and the Hyams Foundation.


The center is designed to serve as a one-stop neighborhood resource for small business owners and entrepreneurs.

Mayor Martin J. Walsh and the Office of Economic Development (OED) today launched Boston's Small Business Center in Mattapan, designed to serve as a one-stop neighborhood resource for small business owners and entrepreneurs. Following a nine-week program in Mattapan, the City of Boston Small Business Center will travel to East Boston and then on to Roxbury to provide resources for small businesses throughout Boston. To celebrate small business owners citywide, Mayor Walsh will also kick-off "Mayor on Main," a three-day event that will highlight Boston's Main Streets (BMS) districts at the end of June. During Mayor on Main, Mayor Walsh will visit small businesses and present the 21st Annual Boston Main Streets Awards, which recognize an outstanding business owner and volunteer from each district.

"Small businesses and their owners are the backbone of our City, representing the character and diversity of our communities," said Mayor Walsh. "All neighborhoods deserve the chance to have a thriving center, and that's why I'm so proud to begin the City's Small Business Center in Mattapan. I am committed to supporting small businesses in each corner of our City, and am thrilled to be able to recognize over 35 owners and volunteers with the Boston Main Streets Awards."

Boston's 40,000 small businesses fuel the City's economy and generate $15 billion in annual revenue, and 170,000 jobs. The Small Business Center will serve as a one-stop neighborhood resource for small business owners and entrepreneurs ready to grow their businesses. In addition, Boston is focused on empowering minority and women-owned businesses. Entrepreneurs of color comprise 32 percent of all Boston businesses, generate $2.7 billion in revenue and employ 32,000 people, while 35 percent of small businesses in Boston are women-owned.

In partnership with more than a dozen leading business service organizations, the City of Boston's Small Business Center will provide high-impact professional training, networking and one-on-one coaching sessions during the first nine-week summer series in Mattapan.

To celebrate the achievement and contributions of small businesses in Boston, on June 28, June 29 and July 1, Mayor Walsh will lead trolleys to 12 Main Streets districts in Boston, and will be joined by representatives of Boston Main Streets foundations and boards, and members of his cabinet. In each district, Mayor Walsh will recognize outstanding business owners and volunteers to celebrate the 21st BMS awards.

"The Boston Main Streets Foundation is proud to stand with Mayor Walsh in creating a city devoted to developing small businesses," said Joel Sklar, President of the Boston Main Streets Foundation. "We are pleased to support the launch of the City of Boston Small Business Center and the Mayor on Main trolley tour and provide investment and opportunity for businesses across the entire city."

Mattapan's Small Business Center and the Mayor on Main visits are a result of Boston's central planning initiatives: Boston's 2016 Citywide Small Business Plan and Imagine Boston 2030, both of which incorporate community feedback to continue building a thriving, equitable City. Boston's Small Business Advisory Council has also worked to prioritize establishing a Small Business Center. 

Mayor Walsh's five year small business plan aims to make the small business economy thrive, to enhance neighborhood vibrancy and to foster economic and social inclusion and equity. To accomplish these goals, the Plan proposes policies and programs to foster a high-quality, efficient support system for all small businesses; to develop tools, programs, and policies to address specific gaps in key small business segments that are vital to the city's economic growth; and to enhance opportunities for entrepreneurs of color, immigrants and women to launch and grow small businesses across the city.

In addition to the City of Boston, the Small Business Center is supported by Bank of America, which has provided a $100,000 grant to the Boston Main Streets Foundation over the next two years. The grant supports the launch of the City of Boston Small Business Center and a series of neighborhood recognition events aimed at celebrating economic successes while raising the visibility of local businesses.

"Bank of America is committed to supporting the small businesses and entrepreneurs making Boston such a compelling place for community, commerce, and -- most importantly -- economic mobility for all," said Miceal Chamberlain, Massachusetts President for Bank of America. "We are honored to play a role in advancing the City of Boston's economic-equity agenda to support technical assistance, access to capital and capacity-building for small business owners in our neighborhoods."

As part of Boston's commitment to fostering and empowering small businesses, Mayor Walsh today signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with more than 12 business services organizations to provide high-impact trainings to neighborhoods with dense pockets of small businesses. These partners specialize in business operations, legal services, access to capital and strategic planning. Organizations that have signed the MOU include:

  • Center for Women & Enterprise
  • Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE)
  • Mattapan Square Main Streets
  • Mayor's Office of Financial Empowerment
  • Action for Boston Community Development (ABCD)
  • English for New Bostonians
  • Northeastern University School of Law Community Business Clinic
  • Roxbury Innovation Center
  • U.S. Small Business Administration
  • Boston Public Library, Mattapan Branch
  • Commonwealth Kitchen
  • Tech Goes Home
  • Mass Small Business Development Center
  • Mattapan Community Health Center
  • MA Office of Business Development
  • Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC)
  • Boston Main Streets Foundation


The Mayor's Office of Economic Development aims to promote a healthy environment for businesses of all types and sizes in the City of Boston. The Office of Small Business Development is Boston's front door for small businesses, providing navigation help for permitting and licensing, technical assistance and certification for local, women, minority and veteran owned businesses. For additional information, visit


Boston Main Streets (BMS) provides funding and technical assistant to 20 neighborhood-based Main Streets districts throughout the City of Boston, and has served as a national model for urban areas seeking to revitalize neighborhood commercial districts including Baltimore, Washington, D.C., Milwaukee, Detroit, New Orleans, Seattle and Portland, Oregon. Boston Main Streets continues to empower individuals in the small business sector to have a direct role in the economic health, physical appearance, and development of their own community.

Connecting Bowdoin Geneva — A Plan for Community and Commerce

From January to April of 2017, Bowdoin Geneva Main Streets (BGMS) has partnered with graduate students at MIT’s Department of Urban Studies and Planning to create a new vision for the commercial district. Out of that partnership, a robust plan for economic development and physical design interventions have been created with tremendous community input and support. Long portrayed as a neglected area, this plan now provides the Bowdoin Geneva community multiple methods to discard its negative image, and reimagine how its commercial district operates. While we have laid out the solutions, we need your help to accomplish this goals.

On June 22nd, BGMS will kickoff the start of a campaign to reinvent the neighborhood at our annual Wine Tasting fundraiser. You can help by purchasing tickets and introducing others to Bowdoin Geneva Main Streets as a place to dine, shop and play. Your support is key in turning our neighborhood around. The details of the event can be found here.

Bowdoin Geneva Main Streets Partners with MIT Students to Rejuvenate Commercial District

Media Advisory

Contact: Anh Nguyen, Bowdoin Geneva Main Streets, Executive Director
(617) 446-3395

Bowdoin Geneva Main Streets Partners with MIT Students to Rejuvenate Commercial District

Boston, MA – Following a three and half-month partnership with the Bowdoin Geneva community, students at MIT’s Department of Urban Studies and Planning will present a commercial district plan to neighborhood residents and business owners, outlining physical design and business development interventions.  Long portrayed as a neglected area, the presentation will provide the Bowdoin Geneva community multiple methods to discard its negative image, and reimagine how its commercial district operates.

Photos from our May 9th Community Planning Workshop can be seen here:

WHAT: Commercial District Plan presentation
WHEN: Monday, May 22, 2017 at 6:30 PM
WHO: Partnership between Bowdoin Geneva Main Streets, Students from MIT’s Department of Urban Studies and Planning
WHERE: Teen Center at St. Peter, 278 Bowdoin Street, Dorchester, MA 02125

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Bowdoin Geneva Main Streets (BGMS) is a non-profit organization that brings together local businesses, residents, and neighborhood organizations to support our business district and raise its profile by providing technical, financial, and design support.

Free Rides on the Fairmount Indigo Line!  May 8th – May21st

Free Rides on the  Fairmount Indigo Line!  May 8th – May21st

Free Rides! 
May 8th – May21st

Hop on board the Fairmount Indigo Line!  On April 27, the Fairmount Indigo Transit Coalition announced two weeks of free rides on the Fairmount Indigo Line to increase community awareness of service on the line and to increase ridership.  No fares needed on those days to travel from any station between Readville and South Station!
U.S. Congressman Michael Capuano generously funded the promotion with over $50,000 to encourage  residents to take advantage of  low fares and faster service for commuting to work or school. The promotion is  in cooperation with the MBTA.  Congressman Capuano has been a strong advocate for transforming the line for improved transit and as an economic stimulus. 
“The line has never really received advertisement in general for people who don’t ride it every day,” according to Capuano. “ In order to break that routine, people have to see a viable alternative to use.”
Members of the Fairmount Indigo CDC Collaborative with the Fairmount/Indigo Transit Coalition will conduct head counts at each station during the promotion. The MBTA will also monitor the ridership.  

For more coverage of the promotion, click here.

Dorchester police captain enlists app to help combat commercial break-ins

Dorchester police captain enlists app to help combat commercial break-ins

Break-ins at businesses around Dorchester had increased by 70 percent in three years, and showed no signs of slowing. So Boston police Captain Timothy Connolly was not surprised when his bosses asked him what he planned to do to reverse the trend.

Connolly, the new commanding officer of C-11, one of the largest police districts in the city, was prepared with an answer. He pulled out his smartphone and showed his superiors a free messaging app he has been using to share information with business owners about robberies and break-ins and to provide photos and descriptions of suspects.

“We asked [business owners] if they would be interested in a pretty-close-to-real-time information sharing app,” Connolly said. “I said, ‘I don’t know what it looks like yet, I don’t know if it exists, but I’m sure there’s some sort of technology out there where I can group message you with information.’ ”

With help from the department’s analysts, Connolly has in the last couple of months used an app called GroupMe to facilitate communication between business owners in commercial districts throughout Dorchester. No burglars have been captured with the app, but business owners are now talking with each other about suspicious incidents in an effort to combat crime.

“It’s our own crime watch that is done electronically,” said Anh Nguyen, executive director of Bowdoin Geneva Main Streets, a neighborhood revitalization group. “Technology is helping us create a way for very busy people to connect with each other.”

Connolly is hoping to reverse the commercial robbery trend: There were 66 commercial break-ins last year, up from 39 in 2014. So far this year there have been 25.

“It is a reflection of the poverty in the neighborhood,” Nguyen said. “When you have high poverty rates you have crime.”

But Connolly said many of the break-ins have been connected to a few individuals he called “professional burglars.”

“It’s the same people over and over again,” Connolly said.

Of the business districts in his area, the Bowdoin-Geneva section of Dorchester has been the hardest hit by burglars, Connolly said. So he launched his experiment with the app with business owners there.

The same week that Pollo Centro, a Dominican restaurant with locations in Lawrence and South Lawrence, opened its doors in Dorchester, video surveillance caught a man trying to open the back door with a crowbar.

“He spent four minutes trying to break in,” said Miguel Santana, Pollo Centro’s owner.

Santana said Connolly sent a message through the app alerting other business owners in the area, urging them to keep their eyes open.

Moments later, based on the description of the suspect that was shared through the app, a restaurant owner reported that the business had been burglarized, likely by the same person, Santana said.

On March 6, an armed robbery occurred at a Washington Street store and Connolly used the app to alert nearby businesses and send photos of the suspects.

Before the app, Connolly said, many business owners did not discuss crime incidents with one another, sometimes didn’t contact police, or mismanaged evidence after a robbery or burglary. There was also often a disconnect between the police and some business owners, he said, partly because of language and cultural barriers.

The app will not replace detective work, Connolly said, but will create more awareness and a fluid pipeline for exchanging information about crime.

“This seems to close the gap . . . with sharing information,” he said.

Connolly said he hopes that the information shared through the app will one day help officers make an arrest. In addition to Bowdoin-Geneva, businesses in Fields Corner and Four Corners are also using the app. Connollyrecentlywent door-to-door to businesses in Fields Corner where owners listened intently as he explained how it works and encouraged them to sign up.

“It will make your employees safer,” Connolly told Peter Om, the co-owner of Coco Leaf, a new cafe.
It’s unclear whether the app will become a departmentwide crime-prevention tool. Boston police spokesman Lieutenant Detective Michael McCarthy said it is being tested in Dorchester and that “we will take a look after several months to see if it potentially could be used in other districts across the city.”