Hyde/Jackson Main Streets kicks into high gear
HYDE/JACKSON SQ.—After a hiatus last summer, the JP World’s Fair will return this summer for its 20th year.
That announcement, officially delivered at Hyde/Jackson Square Main Streets’ (HJSMS) annual meeting Feb. 26, comes amidst a flurry of activity for the organization. It recently signed a deal with the Community Benefits Trust Fund (CBTF)—a fund meant to provide grants for local businesses and non-profits—to act as an official scout for the fund. HJSMS will identify businesses that are good candidates for the grant and help them apply.
HJSMS also recently hired a new executive director, JP resident Carlos Schillaci. It is planning to hold its major annual fund raiser, the Don Juan Networking Gala, in May.
Speaking about the fair, Damaris Pimentel, president of the HJSMS board, said, “We are going to try to ful-fill expectations of what was missed last year.”
The festival traditionally features vendors, live music and children’s activities, drawing thousands to Hyde Square. In the past it has been organized by a coalition of groups including HJSMS, the Hyde Square Merchants Association, the Hyde Square Task Force and The Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council.
Pimentel, who owns Ultra Beauty Salon in Hyde Square, said planning for the festival is at early stages. “JP changes day by day, always for the good, and the fair will reflect that,” she said.
Last year, when asked by the Gazette about the canceling of the fair, JPNDC Executive Director Richard Thal said, “The hope is there will be a really big splash for the 20th anniversary.”
The Community Benefits Trust Fund was formed in the 1990s by the developers of the JP Plaza next to the Brom-ley Heath housing development anchored by a Stop & Shop and the Martha Eliot Health Center.
Since the founding of the CBTF, Pimentel said, distribution of the grant funds has been sporadic, and many businesses have remained unaware of the opportunity. “There were some grants given out in the early 2000s, but they were not linked to the business district,” she said.
As its name suggests, CBTF aims to support efforts that provide direct community benefits, like classes, Pi-mentel said.
As part of the deal with the fund, Schillaci told the Gazette, HJSMS will hire someone to work with the busi-ness community on applying for the grants.
“Carlos has a lot of skills that complement the needs of the business district,” Pimentel said of Schillaci, who was hired in October.
Schillaci told the Gazette his background is in hotel management and web marketing. One of his first projects has been developing a web site to promote the district, marketed as Boston’s Latin Quarter.
The web site will feature sections highlighting dining, retail and service businesses in the district, and link to businesses’ own web sites. It will also feature one business a month from all three of those categories.
If a featured business does not have a web site HJSMS will create a page on its site to highlight it, Schillaci said.
“Hyde/Jackson is kind of suffering right now—like everyone else—with the economy. We will try to get them help they can get…and try to attract business in a time when it is hard to bring business in,” Schillaci said.
Those efforts will include acting as a liaison between businesses and the city by promoting things like the city’s Community Change discount loyalty card program, storefront improvement grants, and the new commercial utility purchasing consortium, Boston Buying Power.
As far as new businesses are concerned, Schillaci said he has heard a lot of interest in seeing a stationery store in the area.
Don Juan Gala
HJSMS also skipped its major annual fundraiser, the Don Juan Networking Gala, last year, but it plans to bring it back this spring.
That event is named after Damaris Pimentel’s father, Juan Pimentel, who opened Pimentel market, one of the first Latino-owned businesses in the area, in 1978.
“He was one of the pioneers, next to the Garcia family,” she said.
Nobel Garcia runs the restaurant El Oriental de Cuba, and his family also used to run Garcia’s Supermarket.