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Update From the Mayor's Office of Economic Opportunity and Inclusion: April 2022

It has been just over 100 days since the new Economic Opportunity and Inclusion Cabinet was formed!  Starting with this newsletter, we will commit to regularly updating our community on our efforts, actions, initiatives, ideas, proposals, and policies that are meant to address the many challenges to growth and access faced by our small businesses and residents.

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A NEW VISION

The new vision of the Mayor’s Office of Economic Opportunity and Inclusion is of a resilient, equitable, sustainable, and vibrant city that centers people and creates opportunities to build generational wealth for all communities.  In 2022, we seek to do this through four key focus areas:

  1. COVID-19 Recovery:  We will create the infrastructure necessary to help move our small businesses and communities from survival mode to rebound and recovery. 
  2. Neighborhood Revitalization:  We will focus on strengthening our Main Streets -- which should operate as our "little City Halls" -- and turning all of our neighborhoods into destination areas. 
  3. Shifting City Investments:  We will focus on reaching or exceeding our supplier diversity goals, as well as explore how best to directly invest the city's resources into residents and small businesses.
  4. Prosperity for All:  We will work to strengthen our talent pipeline and retention efforts – with a special focus on emerging industries like clean tech and life sciences – as well as  invest more in our global affairs team to connect local businesses to international trade opportunities and education.

THE CABINET

The Mayor’s team is made up of Cabinets and led by a Chief.  Each Cabinet is made up of different city departments and programs, which are led by Directors or Managers.

To that end, the Mayor’s Office of Economic Opportunity and Inclusion is made up of the following departments and programs: 


Here is a snapshot of what this team has accomplished together in these first 100 days that will help us get closer toward enacting our vision:

COVID-19 Recovery 

  • We replenished the Small Business Relief Fund 2.0 with $5 million.  To date, we have awarded over $11 million to more than 500 businesses via the SBRF 2.0, and over $30 million to more than 6,000 of Boston’s small businesses since March 2020.
  • We successfully organized the Boston Blooms Block Party as part of the effort to revitalize the Downtown area.  This event was held in partnership with the Downtown Boston BID and Rose Kennedy Greenway Conservancy.  The program saw pedestrian footfall of over 100,000 people, dispersed 2,000 free Dunkin Donuts coffees along with 675 beers and 1,500 gift cards, and gave away over 550 free plants.
  • We supported the efforts of the Office of Neighborhood Services to launch a robust outdoor dining program accessible to all by providing $100,000 to cover the cost of loading and delivering jersey barriers to select small businesses, as well as provide technical assistance to those in need of services.
  • We re-launched the Food Truck program, certifying over 15 owners to help revitalize our city.

 

Neighborhood Revitalization

  • We issued 9 new liquor licenses to BIPOC-owned businesses across 8 neighbor- hoods.
  • We successfully reissued the Site 1 RFP in Uphams Corner.  The RFP seeks to create more affordable housing options, deliver affordable commercial space, and establish a community space anticipated to be used for a branch library.
  • In an effort to actualize Mayor Wu’s vision of “getting City Hall out of City Hall,” we coordinated nine (9) business walks across the Hyde Park, Mission Hill, Fields Corner, Nubian Square, Chinatown, Brighton, Grove Hall Main Streets, Blue Hill Ave, and Egelston square that have allowed us to engage approximately 100 business owners.

 

Shifting City Investments

  • We were able to report at a recent City Council hearing on equitable procurement that city spending with certified women and BIPOC business enterprises jumped to 6.6% and 6.4% in the first and second quarters of FY22, respectively.
  • We launched the Sheltered Market Pilot Program to help promote equity and inclusion in our contracting.  Under this program, the city will make up to six contracts available only to certified women and BIPOC business enterprises.  For this pilot program, these contracts must be awarded no later than June 30, 2022. Only firms owned by groups with proven disparities will be eligible to bid.  To learn more about the program, visit boston.gov/sheltered-market.  If you would like to be eligible, get certified now using our online application at boston.gov/certified-business-application.
  • We supported the efforts of a Black-owned business in Hyde Park – Intriguing Hair – to acquire the property they were at one time leasing space from, the Vertullo Building.  In doing so, this couple now has an opportunity to build generational wealth for their family, and prevent the displacement of several anchor businesses as well as the affordable units on top of the property.
  • We developed and launched a pre-certification program for equity applicants to help those lacking sufficient capital in the early licensing stages to obtain eligible real estate to start the application process for the Boston Cannabis Board.  As of April 11, 2022, 10 applicants have been pre-certificatied (6 Black/African-American, 3 Latinx, 1 Asian American/Pacific Islander).
  • We awarded $350,000 in grant funding from the Boston Equity Fund to over 20 entities.
  • We supported 18 different equity applicants with projects like business planning, traffic studies, security plans, branding and marketing support.
  • We continue to build the city’s Buying Plan, which provides a look into upcoming procurement and contracting opportunities.  This plan is based on a list of what city departments plan to buy in a given fiscal year (runs from July 1 to June 30).  The next version of the buying plan is projected to reflect over $500M in city business.

 

Prosperity for All

  • We completed its distribution of approximately $13 million to more than 140 organizations that have proposed to serve over 6,000 Boston area youth and adults.  The grant programs fund innovative career pathways opportunities in local, high-demand occupations like health care, manufacturing, transportation, hospitality, building and construction, business services, and clean energy.
  • We launched Phase II of the All Inclusive Boston campaign and added another $1.5 million to expand across the nation, raising the total contract amount to $4 million, the largest non-construction contract ever awarded to a BIPOC firm.
  • We served 9,357 Boston and area residents through April 25, 2022, of which 8,336 tax returns have been filed (the remainder are pending), which is up 42% over the same time frame last year.   Because a number of residents have still not filed for 2021 or 2020, the Roxbury Center and a few other sites are staying open through the end of May to better serve Boston households.  BostonTaxHelp.org has the most current information about sites.
  • We successfully organized a meeting between Mayor Wu and Hon. Kostas Bakoyannis, the mayor of Athens, to discuss the implications of climate change on major cities, urban policies, and to propose a formal partnership between Athens and Boston. The City is now exploring a formal Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that will bring mutual benefits to our cities.
  • We reactivated the onebostonday.org website in partnership with Hill Holiday and created a checklist  to encourage residents to participate in at least 4 acts of kindness on April 15th. 
  • We organized the 247th Patriots’ Day Parade and supported the BAA’s marathon team and events for the 126th Boston Marathon on April 18th.
  • In partnership with employers, local colleges, and workforce training partners, we submitted several multi-year grants totaling $33.9 million that will help the City meet the growing labor demand in industries like Health Care, Clean Energy, and Child Care.  If funded, the regional partnership will train and fulfill 2,539 committed hires ready for implementation, with another 2,219 jobs for a design phase, a total of 4,758 jobs throughout the course of the grant periods. 

Thanks to the tireless work of this team, we have accomplished so much in such a short amount of time.  We remain committed to continuing our efforts to create a vibrant city that centers people and creates opportunities to build generational wealth throughout the year and laying down the infrastructure to ensure these successes live for generations to come!

 

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