With different community groups gearing up to get their own feedback and information on what a resort-style casino could mean for East Boston, the East Boston Chamber of Commerce released its own Prosperity Agenda study.
With a lot of unanswered questions surrounding the proposed construction of a $1 billion casino in the neighborhood, the Chamber’s study outlines what the small business advocacy group would like to see if a casino does come to Eastie.
The study also reaffirms that the proposals outlined in the study should be implemented regardless if Suffolk Downs is or is not granted to be one of three casino developers in the state.
According to Chamber President Diane Modica the plan calls for a repositioning and place branding campaign that will attract visitors, cultivate tourism and increase spending in Eastie shops, restaurants and neighborhood businesses.
“While we welcome and expect cross marketing programs and connectivity with resort guests, we want to develop a professional East Boston branding campaign as a stand alone imitative that showcases all that our community has to offer,” said Modica.
Modica said Eastie has long had the ingredients for the Eastie brand.
“We need to pull it all together in one package and stay on message in a sophisticated and compelling campaign,” said Modica. “A campaign designed to increase our visibility and create a more vibrant image. By integrating these assets into a formidable East Boston brand we can provide significant employment and entrepreneurial opportunities that create and expand markets for our local businesses.”
The second proposal by the Chamber is to form a Capacity Building Program that commits resources to Eastie businesses that will strengthen and build capacity for them.
“That includes ongoing, creative and responsive educational components, financial assistance, outreach programs to new arrivals, and a comprehensive incubator program to encourage new entrepreneurs in a niche industry unique to East Boston,” she said. “We call for retail gap market studies to identify retail opportunities in the community and we must have ongoing assessments to monitor any casino impacts whether Positive and negative on our local businesses.”
The third part of the plan calls for resources dedicated to improving and enhancing the infrastructure and street appeal of Eastie’s four business districts–Maverick Square, Central Square, Day Square and Orient Heights.
“We are especially concerned that the Orient Heights businesses with their close proximity to the proposed casino are given the necessary support services to prosper,” she said. “The Prosperity Agenda proposes clean and safe initiatives to improve cleanliness sand sanitation in the business districts possibly through designated Special Service Districts. In addition, we want resources dedicated to capital improvements like new sidewalks, streetscape furniture, tree plantings, landscaping, public art lighting programs, attractive signage, storefront and interior layout improvements and other unifying elements that will connect all our business districts.”
In the end, Modica said the agenda should be something explored part and parcel of a casino.
“We want visitors and residents alike to see and enjoy all that East Boston has to offer,” said Modica. “We believe these recommendations as part of the Community Benefits Package are a way to protect the interests of our business community and ensure Prosperity.”
To show its commitment to the agenda separate from a casino development, in September the Chamber will host its first annual Prosperity Awards Gala. “The Prosperity Awards is a first-of-its-kind program designed to recognize and honor East Boston’s best and brightest innovators, achievers, thinkers and leaders,” said Modica. “These honorees are chosen based on their influence on local business, industry and culture, as well as their contributions to the civic health of our community.”