Boston Mayor Walsh Announces Citywide Small Business Plan

Mayor Walsh

BOSTON – Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh announced the City of Boston’s first small business plan, a roadmap that will guide the City’s approach to supporting small businesses as they start and grow in Boston.

The plan reflects the Walsh Administration’s commitment to understanding the needs of Boston’s small business community and streamlining small business services. The creation of the plan is the result of a year-long effort, co-led by the City’s Department of Neighborhood Development and the Mayor’s Office of Economic Development.

Mayor Walsh
Mayor Walsh

“For Boston to continue to thrive and offer opportunities to all its residents, we need to make sure that our small businesses, which are a critical engine of Boston’s economy, are supported in the way that best meets their needs,” said Mayor Walsh. “This plan gives us the roadmap to do just that. We have laid out three goals to help us accomplish this task: ensure a thriving small business economy in the city, enhance the vibrancy of our neighborhoods, and continue to pursue economic and social inclusion and equity.”

The development of the plan was aided by the Mayor’s Small Business Advisory Council, which was comprised of 34 small business community members representing diverse sectors including industrial, women and minority owned businesses, and startups.

One of the critical outputs of the plan is the “State of Small Business in Boston,” a database detailing the full universe of small businesses, business assistance organizations, and capital providers in Boston. The State of Small Business in Boston found that:

  • There are 40,000 small businesses in the City of Boston.
  • Annually, these businesses generate $15 billion in revenue, and create 170,000 jobs.
  • Minority-owned businesses comprise 32 percent of the city’s businesses, generating $2.7 billion in revenues, and employing more than 32,000 people.
  • 85 percent of Boston’s small businesses are considered to be micro-businesses, employing fewer than 10 employees and generating less than $500,000 in revenue.
  • 44 percent of Boston’s employees in private, for profit businesses work in small businesses.
  • 37 percent of the revenues generated by the city’s private, non-profit businesses come from small businesses.

The plan identifies the priority needs of Boston’s small businesses, which were identified through extensive outreach to the city’s small businesses through interviews, round tables, surveys, and additional research. The plan goes on to identify current gaps in Boston’s small business assistance ecosystem, and outlines strategies to meet the needs of small businesses across the city, some of which include:

  • Establishing a small business center, a 311 small business hotline and a new small business web portal to improve the navigation of citywide business supports;
  • Increasing small business capital availability and innovation by convening capital providers and supporting the development and deployment of alternative capital providers;
  • Increasing small business real estate availability, accessibility and affordability by improving the coordination and navigation of the small business real estate market;
  • Driving economic inclusion and equity by expanding We BOS, the City’s women entrepreneurs program, and launching new networks and programs to increase support for minority and immigrant businesses owners and entrepreneurs;
  • Creating new initiatives to support high-impact small business segments, such as launching an Anchor Council to partner with large institutions and launching a “B2B” (“Boston-to-Boston”) network to increase purchasing from and among local services small businesses, a new mentorship network program for small restaurants and retail, and targeted one-on-one coaching programs for established small businesses with high growth potential.

“As I’ve grown my cleaning companies from two to more than 40 employees, the City of Boston has been a key supporter,” said Victoria Amador, owner of Tremendous Maid and Boston’s Best Commercial Cleaning, and a member of the Small Business Plan Advisory Council. “I’ve built my businesses on excellent customer service, by paying close attention to the needs of my employees, and growing through new contracting opportunities with institutions in the city. I am pleased to see that the City is increasing its commitment to customer service and to helping business owners like me grow their businesses.”

“The City of Boston has been a tremendous partner in helping my wife Rokeya and me start and grow our restaurants in Savin Hill, Roslindale Village and, most recently, in Dudley Square,” said Solmon Chowdhury, Small Business Plan Advisory Council member and co-owner of Shanti Taste of India and Dudley Cafe. “After investing so much as small business owners in Boston, we’re thrilled to see the City of Boston investing so much in small businesses with the launch of the Small Business Plan.”

The Small Business Plan calls for a strategic realignment of the City’s small business resources, beginning with the creation of a new Small Business Center. In addition, the plan calls for an increased, strategic focus on minority, women, and immigrant entrepreneurs and key growth business segments, including established businesses with more than ten employees; local services firms, such as catering, that serve both businesses and consumers; and smaller restaurants and retailers.

Next Street, a consulting firm in Dudley Square, and Mass Economics, located in Cambridge, provided the plan’s lead research, writing and development.

The first step towards streamlining the City’s offerings to small businesses will be to consolidate its business outreach operations. To that end, the plan also calls for the creation of a new Office of Small Business Development, to be housed in the Mayor’s Office of Economic Development.