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Mayor Walsh delivers first greater Boston Chamber of Commerce Speech

April 29, 2014

Mayor's Office

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Mayor's Office

Mayor Martin J. Walsh today presented his first speech at the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce’s annual Government Affairs Forum. During the speech, he highlighted more than $2 billion of new investment approved by the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) since the start of the year, and announced several new economic development and business innovation initiatives for his administration moving forward. The event brought together more than 500 executives in the region’s business, non-profit, academic, and government sectors.

“I believe that relationships are vital to our economic outlook -- to be successful we need to build relationships with workers, communities, and businesses,” said Mayor Walsh. "I invite you to reach out to my administration to tell us how your industry works, what your business sector needs to thrive and create jobs in Boston, and how we can help solve the challenges your company faces.”

The initiatives that were announced will improve Boston’s zoning process; transform more than 300,000 square feet of city-owned property in Roxbury, Dorchester, and Mattapan; emphasize immigration reform; increase the City’s digital presence; enhance the city’s international innovation profile, and launch a new business incubator in Roxbury.

Improved Zoning Process

Mayor Walsh has created a new position at the Boston Redevelopment Authority -- a Senior Advisor for Regulatory Reform -- to streamline the zoning and permitting process. The new role will identify areas where zoning policy can be amended to cut through the red tape that may be preventing new businesses from investing in Boston’s neighborhoods and existing businesses from expanding, and will examine regulatory, licensing and permitting requirements that affect Boston's business and residential development of all scales, and make recommendations about how to make the process better for customers.  A search for the individual to fill the role is underway.

Transforming City-Owned Land

The Department of Neighborhood Development will transform more than 300,000 square feet of city-owned property into vibrant commercial space at eight sites across Roxbury, Dorchester, and Mattapan. The sites include Yeoman Hampden, Archer Bonnell, and 2147-2163 Washington Street in Roxbury, 719 Washington Street, 10-30 Bowdoin Street, 65 East Cottage Street, the Uphams Corner Comfort Station in Roxbury, and the Cote Ford Building in Mattapan. One of the parcels is in closing, two have entered the bidding process, and five are in the community process. The size of the sites range from small scale at  2,317 square feet to large scale at 119,945 square feet. Four smaller sites totaling 67,000 square feet will be on the market in May. Another four sites with 248,000 square feet are being reviewed by the community before being offered later this spring.

Immigration Reform

Professionals from across the world want to live and work in Boston. Today Mayor Walsh committed to working with the Massachusetts Congressional delegation to to promote comprehensive immigration reform to welcome more newcomers and recruit new businesses from around the world.

Innovation in Business

To continue driving Boston’s spirit of innovation and collaboration, Mayor Walsh has created a Chief Digital Officer position that will reimagine and integrate the city’s public interfaces, including the City of Boston website, TV station, and social media presence. The position, which will sit in the City’s Department of Information and Technology, will be filled after a national search, to be led by a steering committee currently in formation.

A new, as-yet unnamed program to assist Boston startups will continue to raise the city’s innovative profile. Mayor Walsh has announced that the City of Boston will serve as a convener to bring the startup community together with the rich resources of our city.  This initiative, which will be located in the Economic Development cabinet, will help entrepreneurs to gain a better understanding of their businesses’ needs, struggles, and growth plans, as well as provide them with the necessary tools to succeed—experienced mentors, dedicated investors, and development strategies. A name for the initiative is currently being crowd-sourced in Boston’s innovation community; followers can tweet suggestions to #StartBostonUp.   

In addition, a business incubator will open in the Ferdinand Building in Dudley Square. Housed in the new headquarters of the Boston Public Schools alongside new retail and community space, the incubator will be approximately 4,000 square feet, and will serve as a resource for start-ups seeking assistance with business services such as location, permitting, capital access, and marketing.  Locating the incubator in Dudley brings the economy of the future into the heart of Roxbury, helping Dudley Square take its place in Greater Boston’s innovation ecosystem.