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Reimagine Boston Main Streets

The community engagement process aims to strengthen the future of Boston Main Streets program.

Reimagine Boston Main Streets is a community engagement process. It's designed to strengthen the future of the Boston Main Streets program. Our goal is to embed equity into our Main Streets program. This is particularly true as our local economy feels the impact of COVID-19.We want to help close the racial wealth gap. We plan to support new and existing businesses to enhance the local economic development in our neighborhoods and create more jobs. We have engaged with Strategy Matters, CJ Strategies, and ASG to lead this process. 

    Have a favorite Main Street district? Let us know by taking our survey:

    Main Streets survey

    Have questions? Contact:

    Small Business Development
    Want to receive updates?

    You can join our newsletter list by emailing your contact info to ReImagineBostonMainStreet@Boston.Gov.

    Program goals and timeline

    Goals

    The goal of this program is to embed equity into our Main Streets initiative. We're especially concerned about how our local economy will be affected by COVID-19. We want to help close the racial wealth gap by supporting new and existing businesses.

    We hope to enhance local economic development and create more jobs in our neighborhoods.

    Timeline

    Community Listening Sessions: Nov. 2020 – March 2021       
    Next Steps: (March 2021 – September 2021*)
    1. Research and analysis: We want to understand:
      • how the program is used
      • what gaps exist within our system, and
      • the impact the program has on local economic growth. 
    2. Community Feedback on the initial report   
    3. Final report and implementation plan launch 

    *Subject to change. 

    Project Phases

    These goals to Reimagine Boston Main Streets will guide the project through 5 phases:

    1. Identify implementable strategies for neighborhood business growth, with an emphasis on local, resident-owned businesses.
    2. Identify implementable strategies that support the growth of minority-owned, immigrant-owned, and women-owned businesses.
    3. Align Main Streets goals to those of the Mayor’s Office of Economic Development: Equity and Inclusion, Jobs and business development; and Local-placemaking and community economic development
    4. Create a community engagement process for reimagining Main Streets that will be an inclusive, business-led process that will activate local placemaking equitably across the city to create jobs and economic growth for Boston’s residents and businesses.
    5. Determine distinct measures of success for a Main Streets commercial district.

    Stakeholder Engagement (to date)

    The consulting team, working in collaboration with the City of Boston and all 20 Main Streets directors, is engaging stakeholders through public listening sessions, interviews, on the ground outreach, and surveys.

    This information-gathering phase of the project aids in a deep analysis of the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of the current Boston Main Streets program. 

    Listening Sessions

    There have been 14 language-accessible virtual listening sessions to date. These open forum sessions provided an opportunity for over 300 residents, business owners, and other community members to share their experiences with the Boston Main Streets program. 

    Listening sessions were held in the following neighborhoods/districts:

    • Brighton and Allston
    • Mission Hill, Roxbury, and Mattapan
    • Chinatown
    • Three Squares, Egleston Square, East Boston
    • Roslindale, Hyde Park, West Roxbury, JP Centre South
    • Fields Corner
    • Greater Grove Hall, Four Corners, Bowdoin Geneva, Upham’s Corner
    • Ashmont, Washington Gateway
    • In-language listening sessions for Chinese, Vietnamese, Spanish, Haitian Creole, and Portuguese speakers
    • Additional in-language community conversations for Spanish, Haitian Creole, and Portuguese speakers

    Interviews

    The consulting team has conducted over 15 interviews including Main Street directors, other business owners, leadership from other business supports, Boston Main Street Foundation members, and subject matter experts. Click here to learn more about the emerging themes from these conversations. 

    • Main Streets is highly aligned with many other well-established models and efforts that support vibrant business districts. Where are there opportunities for BMS to create or solidify partnerships that accelerate its commitment to economic development + community revitalization?
    • City-based supports for specific neighborhoods do not feel connected or cohesive to the overarching Boston Main Streets program. What is and what should be the relationships between Boston Main Streets, Neighborhood Business Managers, and other city offices?
    • Outside of the Boston Main Streets program and the individual organizations, there’s not a lot of understanding of what Main Streets is or does. 
    • Businesses and Main Street directors see that the city has been able to quickly mobilize this past year and wish for the city to replicate what’s working.

    Share your ideas, input, and feedback

    Community Feedback is essential to this process.

    If you have been unable to participate in one of the listening sessions, please take a moment to complete the reimagine Boston Main Streets Community Survey.

    Boston Main Streets Community Survey

    Please note: All listening sessions and surveys are open to anyone who lives, works, or spends time in any of Boston's neighborhoods.

    Emerging themes from the surveys (to date):

     

    • The top 3 challenges business owners face are long term planning for the health and growth of their business, access to capital, and gentrification 
    • The top 3 attributes business owners like most about where their business is located are access to public transportation, walkability, and a diverse community
    • The top 3 characteristics residents used to describe their neighborhoods were walkable, access to public transportation, and safe
    • The top 3 places residents hear about new businesses and opportunities to patronize these businesses are from their district main street, neighborhood Facebook groups, and word of mouth
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