We are a stronger city for our diversity, but we face daunting equity gaps that threaten to undermine our future. On key measures like poverty, unemployment, and median household income, we continue to face disparities by race, ethnicity, and gender. We can do better. We can improve economic opportunities for all Bostonians, no matter their background or where they live.
My Boston Jobs Plan aims to strengthen our economy, create jobs, eradicate inequities, and help all Bostonians benefit from our economic opportunities. A focus of my plan is supporting new and small businesses that are such an important part of our jobs engine. But to make sure that small businesses operate on a level playing field, we need to support businesses owned by women and people of color. As the table below shows, women and people of color are underrepresented in the ranks of business owners.
|Firms||Percent of Total||Population||Percent of Total|
|Black-owned firms||11.7%||Black or African American||24.4%|
Source: U.S. Census Bureau. Firm data from 2007; population data from 2010 decennial Census.
We need to look closely at the lack of opportunity among women business owners and business owners of color, and then strengthen opportunities for women and people of color to open new businesses here in Boston or to help existing businesses grow. Specifically:
- I will commission a new Business Disparities Study, which would serve both to call attention to the lack of opportunity among women and people of color and act as catalyst to change existing regulations that restrict opportunity for businesses owned by women and people of color.
- I will prioritize joint venture bidding in which large companies join businesses owned by women and people of color to bid on city contracts. I’ve supported efforts to increase the awarding of city contracts to businesses owned by women and people of color. In 2012, I co-sponsored a hearing with Ayanna Pressley to reform the payment and bidding process for city contracts so these businesses can compete on a level playing ﬁeld. We need to go further.
- I will work to eliminate barriers to entry that prevent women and people of color from opening a new business or growing an existing business. I will review and alter bonding requirements that prevent small businesses from bidding on city contracts, as other cities have done. It needs to be up to the city -- not the state -- to control liquor licenses in Boston, because the current system restricts opportunities for restaurateurs who want to start restaurants in our neighborhoods, and this in turn hurts the economic potential and vibrancy of local business districts. Finally, we need to reform licensing and permitting processes that are needlessly complex, opaque, and time-consuming for small business owners.
- A “Buy Boston” campaign would encourage large institutions and employers to purchase goods and services from locally-owned businesses. Such a campaign would actively market the dynamic and innovative small suppliers that are locally owned in neighborhoods across the city, with a particular focus on businesses owned by women and people of color. For example, we should connect universities and hospitals with businesses like caterers, florists, and cleaning companies located in our neighborhoods.
- To bring more of the benefits of our innovation economy into our neighborhoods, I will push for the creation of a Roxbury Entrepreneurship Center that, like MassChallenge, would give space to start-up companies and provide technical assistance to entrepreneurs and small businesses.
- Capital to finance inventory, equipment, expansion, and other needs is critically important for new and small businesses, and we need to make sure that qualified business owners are aware of their financing options and able to access the capital they need. I will work with financial partners like Boston Community Capital, the Massachusetts Growth Capital Corporation, Accion, NextStreet, and our community development corporations and Main Streets program to develop a Made-in-Boston venture capital firm and to make sure that we have a full, robust spectrum of financing options available to entrepreneurs and small business owners. We should also make sure that the city’s bank funds are reinvested in our community, including local small businesses. City Councilor Felix Arroyo led the effort to pass an “Invest in Boston” ordinance in September 2013, which I was proud to support. As mayor, I’ll make sure it’s enforced.
- Local business owners ought to have robust opportunities for management training, mentorship, and networking. City government can play an important role as a convener, like Mayor Menino’s “Women on Main” initiative to better connect the city’s women business owners. As mayor, I will reach out to organizations like the Center for Women and Enterprise, The Partnership, the Massachusetts Minority Contractors Association, and the Greater New England Minority Supplier Development Council to promote mentorship and networking opportunities for business owners and professionals who are women or people of color.