Mayor Martin J. Walsh on November 23 announced the launch of Reimagine Boston Main Streets, a community engagement process designed to strengthen the future of Boston Main Streets program through a deep and comprehensive analysis of the program’s existing systems and resources, uses, and gaps that impact local economic growth. The goal of the program is to embed equity into our Main Streets Program, particularly as our local economy feels the impact of COVID-19, and help close the racial wealth gap by supporting new and existing businesses to enhance the local economic development in our neighborhoods and create more jobs.
On Monday, November 23 at 6:00 PM, Mayor Walsh joined the Office of Economic Development for the Reimagine Boston Main Streets virtual community kick-off event, launching discussions with members of the community together with Main Streets Directors, the Main Streets Foundation Board Members, and the Reimagine Boston Main Streets Advisory Group. Registration is required for this virtual event and participants may register here.
“We are facing a pivotal moment in the history of Boston – a moment of opportunity to reshape our urban neighborhoods and their businesses,” said Mayor Walsh. “Our small businesses add to the vibrancy and character of each of our neighborhood commercial districts, and I look forward to working alongside our communities to reimagine their future.”
Boston was the first city in the United States to create a neighborhood Main Streets program, established in Roslindale in 1983. Today, Boston’s 20 neighborhood Main Street Organizations work with business and community members to create, build, and sustain healthy commercial districts. Over the last 24 years, each Main Streets district has had varied success, with some demonstrating difficulties in establishing thriving economic commercial efforts. Through the Reimagine Boston Main Streets process, the City of Boston hopes to expand the Main Streets Program into a more equitable tool for community development and transformation across all of Boston’s neighborhood commercial districts. The public engagement from this process will shape the vision for the Boston Main Streets program.
Following a public Request for Proposals (RFP) process, in May, the Office of Economic Development chose Boston-based Strategy Matters and CJ Strategies as the consultants to lead the Reimagine Boston Main Streets effort, which includes Archipelago Strategy Group (ASG) as subcontractors.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the City of Boston has been steadfast in its commitment to supporting the small business community. Nearly $6.7 million in debt-free grants have been distributed to over 1,850 small businesses in every neighborhood across the City of Boston through the Office of Economic Development’s Small Business Relief Fund. Earlier this month, the City launched three new funds totaling $6.3 million that will support small businesses in Boston that have been affected by COVID-19, focusing on commercial rent relief, supporting certified women, minority, and veteran owned small businesses, and restaurant relief. And to further assist the City’s small businesses, the City of Boston has created a list of suppliers to help businesses source the personal protective equipment (PPE) and cleaning supplies required to ensure the safety of employees and customers as industries reopen.
It was also recently announced that the City, as a part of a thorough Request for Proposals (RFP) review process, selected a partnership between Colette Phillips Communications, the Greater Boston Convention and Visitors Bureau, and Proverb to create a Visit Boston campaign that will promote a safe and equitable economic recovery. The goal of Visit Boston is to assemble a local tourism campaign to draw local and regional tourists to take advantage of all that Boston has to offer, as the City safely responds to the impact of COVID-19 and supports its hardest hit industries, including small businesses. Highlights from the Reimagine Boston Main Streets event were recorded and posted to www.facebook.com/econdevboston/videos. Sign up for the weekly small business newsletter to stay up-to-date on future Reimagine Boston Main Streets engagement activities and more by emailing: [email protected]