Last week, Mayor Martin Walsh announced he would increase funding to the Boston Main Streets program as part of his fiscal year 2015 budget.
Main Streets District funding will increase by $400,000 compared to last year, with East Boston Main Streets District receiving $75,000 annually from the City, a 30 percent increase.
“Investing in our Main Streets districts preserves and protects our neighborhood commercial centers, and helps our small businesses thrive, grow, and adapt to the changing economy,” said Walsh. “Access to a variety of retail in neighborhoods is critical to maintaining robust and connected communities.”
East Boston Main Streets and other Main Streets programs in the city offer varying business support services and programs, often unique to the needs of each district. Recent programs have included enhanced cleanliness programs, storefront improvement programs, promotional events, farmers markets, and social media training events.
“We are committed to putting this additional funding to the best possible use in support of our small and micro business community by not only enhancing current programming but also exploring creative new ways of bringing much needed support and services to our local neighborhood entrepreneurs,” said East Boston Main Streets Director Max Gruner
Walsh identified the increased funding to Main Streets in his $2.7 billion Operating Budget for FY15. Other planned projects in Boston’s Main Streets Districts include free public WiFi, and a new partnership between the Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics and the Department of Neighborhood Development that will invest in neighborhood innovation and incubator space, funding for programs such as crowdsourcing to identify community need, and other resources to look at challenges such as access to capital and the way vacant storefronts are filled with new potential businesses.
There are more than 4,000 businesses across Boston’s 20 Main Streets Districts. The Boston Main Streets initiative was created in 1995, as the first urban, multi-district Main Streets program in the nation, with the goal of establishing thriving commercial districts throughout the city. Named by the Pew Partnership for Civic Change as one of 19 “Solutions for America,” Boston Main Streets continues to empower individuals in both the small business sector and residents to have a direct role in the economic health, physical appearance, and development of their own community.
Today, Boston Main Streets provides funding and technical assistance to 20 neighborhood-based Main Streets districts throughout the City of Boston and has served as a national model to urban areas seeking to revitalize neighborhood commercial districts including Baltimore, Washington, D.C., Milwaukee, Detroit, and New Orleans.