Authored by Cassie Mann
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Military Families Achieve Homeownership through Project Homefront

October 22nd, 2015 by Cassie Mann

Two military families will soon be able to put down roots in Worcester and Millbury. Recognizing the need for affordable homeownership opportunities for veterans and military families, Bank of America donated two properties to Project Homefront, an initiative spearheaded by Worcester Community Housing Resources. Project Homefront aims to provide the security and stability of homeownership to families who have served their country.

With their expertise in affordable housing development and rehab, WCHR fully renovated the two homes, transforming them into quality, family-sized housing. They worked with MassHousing to arrange mortgages for eligible buyers. WCHR will sell the homes to eligible families at affordable prices. Buyers will pay 60 percent of the sale price, and WCHR will cover the rest of the cost with a forgivable lien.

For Bank of America, the decision to work with a CDC like Worcester Community Housing Resources came down to shared values. “We share Worcester Community Housing’s commitment to honoring those who’ve served, and their track record of improving the community in meaningful ways made them an ideal partner for the home donations,” said Ed Shea, Bank of America Worcester market president.

This project gives military families the opportunity for homeownership and the stability that comes with putting down roots. After the sacrifices that these families have made in service to the Commonwealth and our country, they deserve nothing less than a place to call home.

Innovative Kitchen Space Creating Jobs in Dorchester

August 31st, 2015 by Cassie Mann

Starting a business is hard work. But Cassandria Campbell and her business partner Jackson Renshaw were determined to make it happen. Their goal was to bring fresh, locally-grown food to neighborhoods in Boston where healthy and affordable food can be hard to find. They created Fresh Food Generation, a farm-to-plate food truck and catering business that would source ingredients from the greater Boston area.

Cassandria and Jackson needed help to get off the ground, and they found it in Dorchester. Years ago, Dorchester Bay Economic Development Corporation saw the old, vacant Bornstein and Pearl Meats factory as a potential resource for growth in their community. They partnered with Crop Circle Kitchen to revitalize this former community landmark into a state-of-the-art culinary incubator. Dorchester Bay EDC spearheaded the $14 million project, and Crop Circle Kitchen shared their expertise in what food businesses need to get started and keep growing.

This collaboration produced the Bornstein and Pearl Food Production Center, a 36,000 square foot facility specially outfitted for food trucks and small enterprises. The Center provides businesses with commercial kitchen equipment and space to operate, as well as specialized technical assistance and access to capital.  By the end of 2014, there were 17 businesses and 71 people working there. And these businesses are growing.

Fresh Food Generation now employs five people and serves roughly 3,000 customers each month. For Cassandria and Jackson, it has been “the ideal kitchen space for us to start and build our company…Crop Circle has whole-heartedly supported our mission and has helped us work towards achieving our goals. The staff helped us streamline our operations so we were more efficient in the kitchen and helped us connect to funding and catering opportunities.”

Small businesses like Fresh Food Generation play a critical role in increasing access to healthy, local food in underserved communities. But they can’t do it all on their own. In the Pearl Food Production Center, the ingredients are all there for these businesses to grow.

Check out the MACDC GOALs report.

Boston Pilot Program – Expanding Opportunity for Minority- and Women-Owned Businesses

August 28th, 2015 by Cassie Mann

It’s rare that a pilot program can generate $45 million in new contracts in less than two years. But that’s just what happened when MACDC and the Massachusetts Minority Contractors Association (MMCA) came together to create the Boston Pilot Program. For John Cruz, winning one of those contracts was “like coming out of the drought” after the great recession. Cruz Construction won the $7.5 million contract to build the Walnut Avenue Apartments, a 31-unit project developed by Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Corporation. As a result, John Cruz has been able to build wealth in the community by hiring local residents. “Being from the community and also being a black-owned company, we have a commitment – and should have a commitment – to give more back to the community in which we reside.”

Minority-owned businesses like Cruz Construction often have a hard time getting contracts for Boston-area development projects. Women-owned businesses face a similar challenge. This means that they miss out on lucrative contracts and on the chance to grow their businesses and reach new markets. 

To address this problem, MACDC partnered with the Massachusetts Minority Contractors Association (MMCA) to launch the Boston Pilot Program in 2013. Six CDCs, including JPNDC, came together and pledged to boost the participation of minority- and women-owned businesses in their projects. 

While the City of Boston has targets for local, minority and women workers for city-funded projects under the Boston Resident Jobs Policy, there are no such requirements for projects to contract to businesses owned by women and/or people of color. The Boston Pilot Program is addressing this gap.   

By the end of 2014, the twelve participating projects had generated more than $45 million in business for minority- and women-owned firms. The projects exceeded the goal of having 30% of hard and soft costs awarded to minority-owned businesses, at 37%. Women-owned businesses received 9% of these costs, just shy of the program’s goal of 10%. This translates into real opportunity for businesses that are often overlooked or sidelined. 

As these twelve projects come to completion, the six CDCs, MMCA, and MACDC are planning the program’s next phase with a goal of sustaining and deepening the program’s impact. That’s good news for quality businesses like Cruz Construction that stand to find new opportunities for growth.

Check out the MACDC GOALs report.

Quarterly Reports Update:
As of the end of June 2015, $50 million in new contracts generated for MBE and WBE businesses.

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