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Small Business Center series in Roxbury provides resources to local entrepreneurs

Karen Morales
Small Business Center series in Roxbury provides resources to local entrepreneurs
A Small Business Center workshop in session in Roxbury on May 14. -Photo courtesy City of Boston — Mayor’s Office of Economic Development

Mayor Martin Walsh and the Office of Economic Development launched the Small Business Center workshop series in Roxbury earlier this month to assist local entrepreneurs in starting, maintaining and growing their businesses. 

The third of its kind — the first installments were in Mattapan and East Boston — the series offers six free workshops at Dudley Square’s Bruce C. Bolling Municipal Building with professional training and one-on-one coaching sessions.

The workshops focus on growth through contracting opportunities, financial and legal resources, and networking opportunities for small business owners, entrepreneurs and small business support organizations.

A Small Business Center workshop sign-in table in Roxbury on May 14. -Photo courtesy City of Boston — Mayor’s Office of Economic Development

A Small Business Center workshop sign-in table in Roxbury on May 14. -Photo courtesy City of Boston — Mayor’s Office of Economic Development

“As a historic, commercial hub of Boston, Dudley Square is the perfect location to build on our outreach to neighborhood entrepreneurs and small business owners as we seek to offer support and streamlined assistance to small businesses, local hiring and vibrant commercial districts,” said Walsh in a statement.

John Barros, chief of economic development, said in a statement, “By breaking down barriers, increasing access and opening doors to opportunities, expertise and networks, small businesses and entrepreneurs now have more resources to achieve their individual goals and be successful. I am eager to build on the success we have seen in Mattapan and East Boston, and look forward to working with all of the partners to assist small business in Roxbury and every neighborhood in the City of Boston.”

Taylor Connolly, communications manager for the Office of Economic Development, said outreach has been conducted by the mayor’s office, the 20 Boston Main Street districts, and the city’s Neighborhood Business Managers “who are out in the neighborhoods, knocking on business doors and meeting small business owners to hand out flyers, contact information and registering people for workshops in person.”

In partnership with Boston Main Streets and local business support organizations and experts retained through the on-site business assistance program, the Small Business Centers in Mattapan and East Boston hosted close to 400 small business owners and entrepreneurs throughout 17 different workshops that covered topics including financial literacy, legal and leasing guidance and workshops for immigrant entrepreneurs.

Public attendance

According to city data, the majority of workshop attendees included food-based businesses and companies seeking contracting opportunities, as well as cooperative or employee-owned organizations. Workshops that saw the most attendees were focused on access to capital, tips for lean business planning and guidance on winning public contracts.

Connolly said offering assistance specifically geared towards immigrant business owners is something the city is committed to doing.

“In the past, we have hosted workshops specifically designed for immigrant entrepreneurs that included success stories, best practices and available resources,” said Connolly. “At the Roxbury Small Business Center, each of our workshops have translation services and multilingual staff available to assist attendees.”

So far, the Roxbury Small Business Center has hosted two workshops. The first was on winning public contracts with the City of Boston and the second focused on construction bonding for federal contracts.

According to Connolly, 40 attendees have visited the first two workshops and another 50 or more people are expected to come to the next one.

The next four workshops will take place every Monday from June 4 through June 25 at the Bolling Building. They will inform participants on contracting with the City of Boston, how to start a food business, how to attract and keep customers and legal advice.

For more information, visit the Small Business Center website or call the Small Business Development office at 617-635-0355.

City of Boston, public contracts, small business