At the beginning of March, Three Squares Main Street welcomed Warren Williams as its new Executive Director, a position formerly held by Gerald Robbins. As a nonprofit organization serving more than 140 businesses in Jackson, Hyde, and Canary Squares, Three Squares Main Street is an important entity in Jamaica Plain as the coronavirus outbreak continues and businesses are struggling.
Warren said he is no stranger to the area, and has worked in the community for about 20 years.
“The effect is devastating,” Warren said of the virus. “A lot of small businesses are suffering.” He said the best thing Three Squares Main Street can do is to provide resources to businesses.
“We’ve been connecting most of the businesses to other resources and working with them, making sure they’re educated on what is happening” Warren said.
He said that employers are looking for ways to connect their employees to unemployment resources and transitional services. Three Squares Main Street is reaching out to property owners and business owners to see what they can do. “There’s a lot of communication right now and education,” Warren said.
He said that while businesses in the district have been trying to stay open as much as possible, there have been “huge hits.”
As someone who has worked in human services, including with community centers in Jamaica Plain as well as helping people with housing and homelessness, Warren said he believes he has the skills to lead this organization and help people during this time of crisis.
“It doesn’t matter if it’s business or if it’s recreation or education when you’re in the business of helping the community,” Warren said. “Even with the barriers that small businesses are suffering right now, it’s about finding the resources to be able to connect—a wraparound resource.”
He said that it’s still early in the process, but Three Squares Main Street’s goal is to make sure these families and businesses are equipped to sustain themselves. “We have to support our businesses by going out and being consumers,” he said. “With the closing of doors, it’s going to be tougher.”
He said that as a main streets organization, “we’ve been really good at galvanizing our resources and keep people coming together.”
Three Squares Main Street is trying to think outside the box about what it does have control over, so that “when this does move on, we can get people back out to the community,” Warren said. “it’s taking a different shape every day.”
He said that they are going to continue to reach out to business owners and property owners “to keep some of that momentum going and be able to help rebuild” the district.
Warren said he’s excited to take on the role of Executive Director at a time like this, and sees it as an opportunity to learn how to support the community.
“It’s a great job and it’s rewarding,” Warren said. “I came in at a time where I’m in the thick of things, meeting with businesses owners and having conversations with employees and getting an understanding of how things are going.”