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Economic Development Center launched, expanding economic growth


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Economic Development

The workshops will focus on equity, job growth, and community development in multiple languages throughout the City.

During his State of the City address, Mayor Martin J. Walsh will tonight strengthen his commitment to expanding economic opportunity to all, and will announce the creation of Boston's Economic Development Center. The Economic Development Center is designed to engage with residents on economic development policy around job growth, business development, placemaking and community economic development. The Economic Development Center will be at convenient, accessible locations in every neighborhood throughout the year, offer interpretation services upon request, a child-friendly environment, and will serve as a vehicle to generate economic opportunities for all residents and businesses in Boston.

"We support small businesses because they lift up our neighborhoods, lift up families, and lift up all of Boston," said Mayor Walsh. "Creating more pathways to economic security and success means a stronger, better city for all. Through programs like the Economic Development Center, we are building Boston's middle class and ensuring we are a city where all can achieve and thrive."

"To ensure our economic development strategies deliver real results for Bostonians, we are bringing policy and resources to residents and businesses in an accessible, thoughtful, and collaborative manner," said John F. Barros, Chief of Economic Development. "We will be out in convenient locations - with staff and resources in many different languages - to not only help with small business financing and connecting the diverse talent in our communities to opportunity, but to discuss our creative community development strategies in order to get your feedback."

The Economic Development Center will host free workshops year-round, across four series that focus on different sectors and different policy areas: equity and inclusion; small business; community economic development; and jobs and talent. The Mayor's Office of Economic Development staff and partner organizations will facilitate workshops to engage with residents on policy, connect businesses and entrepreneurs with necessary resources and support organizations, and directly work with individuals to access career advancement trainings, hiring and contracting opportunities, and networking events.

Summaries and workshop topics for each policy include:

Equity and Inclusion

The series will create a network of individuals and businesses to connect with good jobs and public procurement opportunities, and serve as a vehicle to engage directly with diverse communities on equity policy and decision making. Series topics include pathways to contracting with the City, OSHA training and certification, and matchmaking events for Minority and Women-owned Business Enterprises.

Small Business

To support Boston's small businesses at all stages and across industries, this track will create an accessible way for busy small business owners to invest time and energy to stabilize and grow their businesses. This track's workshops will feature series on business planning, food trucks, the creative economy, and immigrant entrepreneurs. 

Community Economic Development

Based on existing BPDA Research data, workshops will illustrate the strong cultural and economic contributions made by Boston's diverse communities, and will facilitate a discussion around specific community needs and on best practices to engage different communities to better inform policy decisions. Workshops will include outreach to immigrant communities, including Boston's Cape Verdean, Somali, Vietnamese, and Haitian communities.

Jobs, Talent, and Employers

With the goal of maximizing Boston's homegrown talent and ensuring everyone benefits from Boston's economy, this track will facilitate individual to employer matchmaking, provide career training opportunities, and educate attendees on hiring trends for long-term career growth. Workshops will feature a variety of voices from some of the City's top employers discussing inclusive hiring practices, current staffing needs, and more.

Workshops will be held at BCYF Centers, branches of the Boston Public Library, and partner organizations throughout Boston.

During Mayor's Walsh's inauguration speech last year, he committed to using his second term to build and strengthen Boston's middle class. He also launched a campaign called Boston Hires, which works with nonprofit partners and private employers towards a new goal: 20,000 low-income Boston residents trained and placed in good jobs by the year 2022.

The Economic Development Center builds on the success of the Small Business Center, first launched as a pop-up pilot by Mayor Walsh in 2017. As a result of the 2016 Citywide Small Business Plan, the Office of Economic Development developed a pop-up series of free workshops in neighborhoods around the City. Created to make services more accessible to small businesses, the workshops were designed to allow businesses to access city support outside of City Hall and in their own communities, as well as to provide opportunities for business owners and entrepreneurs to network and create strategic connections. The 2017-2018 Pilot included a series in Mattapan, East Boston, and Roxbury for about six consecutive weeks each, reaching over 400 individuals.

"Since attending the City's Small Business Center, I have been introduced to opportunities for my business that I didn't know existed before," said Hilliard Baker, President and Owner, H.B. Plumbing and Heating. "For a small business in Dorchester, the helpful staff, valuable networking time, and knowledge I've gained have lead to a winning contract and new work for my business. I look forward to building more relationships and learning more with this new program."

These centers complement Mayor Walsh's overall work to increase access to economic opportunity throughout the City of Boston, including his 14-bill housing security and economic mobility package that will be submitted to the Massachusetts Legislature promotes equity, opportunity, and resilience through preserving neighborhoods, stabilizing vulnerable households, supporting small businesses, removing barriers that keep people in poverty, providing new pathways to good jobs, and continuing to leverage Boston's prosperity to build a more inclusive and equitable city.

As Boston continues to grow at an incredible rate, Mayor Walsh has prioritized economic equity to ensure all Bostonians benefit from Boston's booming economy. In 2014, Mayor Walsh created the Economic Development Cabinet to make Boston an appealing and accessible place for families and businesses to grow and thrive in a way that fosters inclusion, broadens opportunity, and shares prosperity, thereby enhancing the quality of life for all Bostonians. Milestones include the development of the city's first ever Economic Inclusion and Equity Agenda, publication of the city's first Small Business Report, launch of the Small Business Resource Center, and passage of an updated Boston Residents Job Policy with elevated develop standard for hiring and building in Boston.