Transforming a vacant factory into a facility for 50 small businesses in Dorchester

December 6th, 2013 by Sandra West

Dorchester Bay Economic Development Corporation [“DBEDC”] teamed up with CropCircle Kitchen, Inc. [“CCK”] to redevelop the 2-acre former Pearl Meat Factory in the Dorchester neighborhood of Boston.

Construction has begun to transform this vacant 36,000 SF building into a multi-tenant food production facility to promote small business development, create sustainable employment, and build the infrastructure needed to improve access to local, healthy food.

This $13.3M redevelopment effort will support over 50 food production businesses and create more than 150 new jobs within the first 3 years of operation. Our strategy for start-up businesses is to build on the success of CropCircle Kitchen’s Jamaica Plain shared kitchen and business incubator. Our new facility will provide affordable access to an expanded, fully-equipped, licensed commercial kitchen for hourly rental, complete with shared cold storage, prep and packing.  Businesses will have access to technical assistance to help with business planning and recipe development, Serv-Safe training and assistance sourcing and marketing products. There will also be a shared meeting room and wifi available.  For early stage and established food businesses, we will offer multiple options for leasing production space on a scale that allows businesses to grow incrementally, including partially shared or fully dedicated space, plus access to cold, frozen and dry storage on an as-needed basis. Through this shared approach, the facility will fill a major gap in the availability of small-scale food manufacturing space in the city, and open up new opportunities for small and often under-capitalized entrepreneurs to start and grow a business.

These types of small-scale food production businesses typically have very large labor needs, and thus the project can maximize local employment opportunities in jobs with relatively few barriers to entry and multiple options for career advancement. Additionally, this collaborative approach offers access to equipment that businesses might otherwise not afford, and provides an opportunity to experiment with techniques and test the market for products or services without having to first invest in space or equipment. By creating this type of shared work environment, the facility will also encourage collaboration, mentorship, knowledge sharing, and networking; key elements to success for any small business.

We will honor the past as we plan for the future - The Bornstein & Pearl families started their award-winning frankfurt and smoked meat production facility in 1947, and ran it continuously until the business was sold to a company in 1986, who attempted to close it in 1988.  Within 3 weeks, a worker-led group bought the business and reopened it, operating out of 196 Quincy St. location until relocating to Canton, MA in 2005.  The Bornstein & Pearl Food Business Center celebrates the tradition of food production on site and honors the family that provided jobs for so many in our community.

Project completion is expected in Spring of 2014.

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2013 MACDC Annual Meeting & Conference

November 26th, 2013 by John Fitterer

On Friday, November 15, MACDC hosted its Annual Meeting and Conference at Clark University.  The day was a great success with well over 200 of our members, friends and supporters coming together to share ideas, network, reconnect and celebrate. 

To receive materials and PowerPoints from the day email John Fitterer at

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2013 MACDC Photo Contest Winners

November 20th, 2013 by John Fitterer

This year, MACDC held a photo contest open to all of it members.  The goal was to try and capture a visual representation of the work we do as a field. This year, MACDC staff chose five categories in which our members could submit and enter their images.  We received numerous entries and the decision making process was not easy. These images are not only fanastic visual representations of our field's work, but are also wonderful photographs of the amazing people and neighborhoods that make up the communities in which we live and work.

Before and After

Description: Before and after pictures of any physical space improvement project.

Winner: HAPHousing
Built in 1901, this Victorian home fell into disrepair. HAPHousing was able to acquire it from the city, renovate it and sell as an affordable property.

Building Communities

Description: Pictures of community meetings/group activities, such as gardening, street clean ups, demonstrations, etc.

Winner: Nuestra CDC
The photo is of a dance-off at the May 18, 2013 Mural Fest that took place at Bartlett Yard, the future site of Nuestra Comunidad's Bartlett Place. Bartlett Events was designated by the Boston Art Commission as an official temporary public art destination for Summer 2013.

Bartlett Place is an innovative urban mixed-use development that will create a brand new neighborhood bridging Roxbury's bustling Dudley Square and the adjoining historic Fort Hill community. On a site that today is an urban wasteland, the new Bartlett Place will create a vibrant, sustainable mixed-income community.

Photo credit: Jeremy Alliger, of Alliger Arts, a partner in the Bartlett Events initiative

Community Leaders & Entrepreneurs

Description: Photos of leaders or entrepreneurs in the community

Winner: Somerville CC
This photo was taken by Chinh Bui during the graduation of this year's Leadership Development Institute (LDI) hosted by SCC in April 2013. The photo shows both SCC staff and graduates of the program. Now in its seventh year, LDI has evolved to include an established core curriculum and several supplementary workshops geared to develop strong leaders in our community. We are excited to bring together another group of leaders and give them the skills to make change in Somerville and beyond.

Individuals and Families

Description: Photos of individuals and families working with CDCs

Winner: Community Development Partnership
The man in this picture is a farmer who owns Nestwood Farms, a two acre farm in Truro, MA. He sells his produce at the local Farmers Market in Wellfleet. Businesses we've worked with through our Micro Loan and Technical Assistance Programs participate at this Farmer's Market.

Because of Your Agency

Description: Pictures of a project that defines a CDC's impact

Winner: The Neighborhood Developers
Highland Terrace is located in a former industrial district that has become the city's newest mixed-income neighborhood. Once the site of a brass manufacturer and a dairy, the 53,000 square foot parcel was an eyesore in the heart of this transitioning residential neighborhood. As part of a community planning process in partnership with the City of Chelsea and neighborhood residents, Highland Terrace and the abutting Box District Park were conceived as more compatible uses for the neighborhood. Altogether, the 260 new homes in the Box District have created 384 construction jobs, and the new residents of the neighborhood are supporting an estimated 128 local jobs.

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CITC NOFA Released

November 11th, 2013 by John Fitterer

MACDC members,

Here it is!  The first ever NOFA for the Community Investment Tax Credit.

Please note that DHCD will be holding an informational session at our annual meeting in Worcester on Friday, November 15.  If you have not yet registered please do so on our website.

PS - If you are not yet a DHCD-certified CDC you still have time. DHCD has generously given you until December 10 to submit your certification application.

PPS - Don't forget to check out MACDC's CITC resources.

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Housing Corporation of Arlington's Capitol Square Apartments Receives National Recognition

November 7th, 2013 by John Fitterer

Housing Corporation of Arlington's Capitol Square Apartments received an honorable mention as a Historic Tax Credit Development that Best Demonstrates Financial Innovation from Novogradac. The Historic Rehabilitation Awards were created to commemorate outstanding achievement in the rehabilitation of developments using the historic tax credit. The Awards highlight projects that exemplify financial innovation, major community impact, and success in overcoming challenges.

The acquisition and redevelopment of the buildings required a combination of funding sources and included a large number of public and private financing partners. Having undergone renovations costing $10.7 million, Capitol Square Apartments now provides housing to 32 low-income families and individuals.

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YouthBuild-North Shore Has a Successful First Year in Salem

November 4th, 2013 by Mickey Northcutt

The North Shore Community Development Coalition (CDC) invests in neighborhoods to create thriving communities.  The organization was founded in 2011 as a collaborative effort between two community-based organizations in Beverly and Salem.  After 30+ years of dedication to the Salem community, North Shore CDC redoubled its commitment to improve the quality of life for low-income people in Salem.  In addition to affordable housing and commercial real estate development and preservation, North Shore CDC has long had a commitment to community and civic engagement, leadership development and various neighborhood-based programs.  In Salem, we operate a free English-as-a-Second-Language program serving primarily new immigrants, a low-cost homeownership training program for first-time homebuyers and our Family Stability program, an effort to connect low-income people to existing services and education programs to advance their economic self-sufficiency.

In 2010, one of our first efforts as a newly-minted organization was to do a thorough community survey, particularly targeting the Point neighborhood in Salem.  We wanted our work to be guided by the needs and priorities of the community.  We heard loud and clear that the community wanted more opportunities for teenagers and young adults, and specifically for opportunities to connect young people with the skills they need to enter the workforce.  That summer, we ran a pilot program that hired local teenagers to work on neighborhood improvement projects.  That program was so well received that we looked to other models to expand our youth program year-round and to serve a greater number of young people.  This search quickly led us to YouthBuild.

YouthBuild-North Shore was affiliated with YouthBuild-USA, a national network of programs, in early 2013.  YouthBuild is a national model focused on workforce development and academic opportunity for low-income young people.  YouthBuild-North Shore empowers young adults in Salem with the competency and desire to transform their lives and improve their communities through education, employment and leadership development.

YouthBuild-North Shore is hosted by North Shore CDC and administered jointly as a partnership between North Shore CDC and the Salem Community Charter School (SCCS).  SCCS is a Horace-Mann Charter High School within Salem Public Schools that offers students who have previously struggled in traditional school settings to restart their quest for a high school diploma.  Together, we employ young people ages 16-24 enrolled in a diploma program at SCCS.  YouthBuild students are a remarkably talented and dedicated group of people:  all have made the choice to return to school after having dropped out of Salem High School, most come from low-income families and many struggle with mental and/or physical disabilities. 

Our YouthBuild crew works on affordable housing development and neighborhood revitalization projects and get paid for their work hours.  Mixed in with leadership development programming are courses on construction management, various technical certifications, job shadowing and supervised hands-on work in the form of a paid internship.  Over the past year, sample projects include:

  • Renovation of an affordable housing unit in the Point neighborhood, vastly improving the quality of life for a low-income family
  • Planning and execution of a trash barrel pilot program, working with local businesses and city officials to establish a trash removal program
  • Gut-rehabilitation of an expanded YouthBuild program space and North Shore CDC office space on Lafayette Street in Salem

Critical to YouthBuild’s success are partnerships in our community which have embraced the program.  From a mentoring program with the Salem Rotary Club, to workforce training workshops with the North Shore Career Center, to service projects with Windover Construction and the Salem Garden Club, the support of the community has been truly remarkable, enriching the program and connecting YouthBuild students to the broader community.  We invite the Salem community to become involved in YouthBuild-North Shore by getting in touch with North Shore CDC.  Volunteers that know construction skills and are willing to teach a skill during class time at 2:15-3:15pm on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Fridays or in the workshop on Wednesdays and Thursdays at 2:30-5pm are particularly welcomed.

For more information on North Shore CDC or YouthBuild-North Shore, please visit us at

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How SCC is Building an Inclusive Community in Union Square, Somerville

October 24th, 2013 by Julia Prange Wallerce

In early 2012, the Somerville Community Corporation (SCC) purchased a vacant and structurally deficient brick building from the Boys and Girls Clubs of Middlesex County located just outside the heart of bustling and “up and coming” Union Square, Somerville.  In a part of the city where property values had already skyrocketed nearly 150% since 2005 and two new planned Green Line stations promise to significantly boost housing demand, this was a unique opportunity to preserve affordability for existing Somerville residents who might otherwise find themselves priced out of the city. With a 40+ year track record of building and supporting affordable housing for working families and vulnerable individuals in Somerville, SCC was well positioned to seize this opportunity and to create a project that would benefit not only its tenants but its entire surrounding community.

Somerville Community Corporation spent its first few months as new owners of the property at 181 Washington Street reaching out to neighbors through community meetings and door-to-door conversations. The first community meeting- held at the building itself- was an important time not for SCC to unveil any plans for the site, but for residents to get to know the organization and understand their commitment to the local community. A second community meeting- held only after a sufficient number of neighbors had been reached directly- was held a few months later and attracted double the attendance of the first (over 80 people). Four additional public meetings were held by SCC before any plans were submitted to the Planning Board and each was preceded by flyers, doorknocking, mailings, and email invitations to neighbors. 

While many in the community applauded the SCC’s initial proposal to build a mixed-use, transit-oriented development with ground-floor commercial and 40 energy efficient, affordable rental apartments on the abandoned site, a vocal minority expressed their opposition.  The proposal both conformed to zoning and responded to the City’s recently approved Comprehensive Plan (aka “SomerVision”, which calls for 1,200 new units of permanently affordable homes by 2030, and increased height and density on key corridors, including Washington Street), but these residents had a different vision for the site.  They proceeded to form an active opposition group called “Union Square Rising”.

In the face of opposition, a growing group of neighborhood supporters as well as a broader group of residents who felt passionate about the need for affordable housing in Union Square also became actively involved to demonstrate the need and desire for this project, and shared their enthusiasm under the newly developed “Everyone’s Somerville” slogan, embracing the idea that Somerville should be a community in which people of all incomes and backgrounds can afford to live.  This became the basis for a new website, stickers, and posters that businesses and residents placed in their windows.

The “Everyone’s Somerville” message was perhaps best conveyed at a rally in July, 2012, in Union Square where a group of Union Square neighbors who reflected Somerville’s great diversity each held a letter to spell out the slogan. Signs were hung in trees around the square to illustrate the dire need for affordable housing and to expose the human toll of displacement by gentrification. Over 50 people attended what resulted in a very positive, upbeat meeting to celebrate this opportunity. This positive momentum continued throughout the year with door knocking, performance of skits, and standing out with banners and signs before important meetings. Meanwhile, the vocal minority of opponents captured the attention of the media and other residents by misrepresenting the nature of the project by disseminating false information, claiming the mantle of “neighbors”, and developing their own tactics to stop the proposal in its tracks.

In early 2013, SCC’s proposal took a new turn through an innovative partnership with developers at Cathartes Private Investments who proposed to redevelop the neighboring site at 197 Washington Street- currently a working funeral home.  This unique public-private partnership suddenly enabled both developers to make a greater investment in the neighborhood than either could do alone and to create a seamlessly designed mix of retail and housing for people of all incomes at the two sites. Neighbors were again invited to provide input on the public space aspects of the new joint-project at a Saturday afternoon design workshop in February, 2013 and many of those suggestions were integrated into the design plans unveiled in the Spring. 

Opposition from some neighbors continued through the remainder of the public meetings and into the Planning Board hearing in June. Many were concerned about parking and traffic, building height (disruption of views), and overall density and scale of the project. As usual, SCC continued its positive messaging about this opportunity to support “Everyone’s Somerville” and provide a new, thriving gateway to Union Square. Supporters again rallied behind the letters spelling out the slogan and unveiled a string of over 100 signed postcards supporting the SCC/Cathartes project before the Planning Board in June.

After three Planning Board meetings (where supporters consistently  outnumbered opponents by 3:1), an aggressive media campaign (nearly a dozen letters were featured in local papers and blogs and staff worked closely with reporters to keep them engaged), and over 150 supportive comments submitted for public record, and a revised design proposal that reduced the total height and number of units, the Somerville Planning Board voted 4-1 in favor of granting a permit for the project to move forward. SCC was invited to apply for State funding this past summer, and will request 9% low income housing tax credits (LIHTC), project based Section 8 vouchers, and funding from various other programs to bring the project to fruition. Approximately $1.6 million has been committed to this project in local, state, and federal funds, and the balance of project costs will be covered through private loans. CEDAC has already loaned funds to the project for acquisition and predevelopment costs.

SCC is deeply grateful for the unwavering support that our community and allies have shown over these last few months (and even years!) for this crucial opportunity to provide new affordable homes for families of all incomes in a rapidly gentrifying part of Somerville.  As the permitting process moves forward, SCC will continue to uphold a place that is truly everyone’s Somerville.

For more information about this project, check out! You can also find SCC on Facebook and Twitter

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Fisherman Starts Anew

October 24th, 2013 by

Scott Nolan started fishing more than 25 years ago. Setting out from various Cape Cod and MA ports, he focused initially on sea clams, and then scallops. After a decade out of the business, Nolan came to the CDP in the Fall of last year with interest in a Micro Loan to support the retro-fit of a dragger to go sea clamming. According to Nolan, "It was a big project".  Sea clamming involves particular equipment, all of which needed to be outfitted on his newly purchased boat, the Goody Hallet. With business support and financing from the CDP and affordable rate quota from the Cape Cod Fisheries Trust, Nolan is now one of the few local small boats out on the water in this particular fishery. As he said, "We have a little niche."  He also commented, "Things are going quite well right now and we're catching a lot."  When she's not out sea clamming, you can find the 80' Goody Hallet in Provincetown Harbor. Read more about Scott in this article in the Commercial Fisheries News.   

Reprinted with permission of authoring organization Community Development Partnership, a MACDC member, and Scott Nolan.

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Is Your Nonprofit A Jack of All Trades and Master of None?

October 17th, 2013 by John Fitterer

Have you ever tried explaining what your organization does only to sound like you’re listing items on a menu?  “We have this program and that service….”  “Oh, and did I mention we run a loan fund for small businesses and provide supportive housing for the elderly?”  If you’re not careful you can sound like the “Jack of All Trades, Master of None."  If you don’t have a cohesive narrative, anyone listening to you will just become confused and tune out.  The question you need to answer before you respond to any question about what your organization does is – “What is the constant central theme that defines why I’m here?”  Once you can answer that in a sentence, you’re on the road to clear engagement.

Start with the people that you’re directly working with and don’t go too far astray.  For example, you can say, “Our organization was founded by the area’s residents to help lead the community’s revitalization.  We focus on building homes, commercial space and helping the residents with job opportunities and career advancement.”  That sentence might not fit your organization exactly, but I’m not saying “We provide services ranging from x, y and z.”  I start and end my statement with what’s most important to us: How we work with and champion a community and its residents.

Oftentimes, I also like to engage people by talking expressly about why CDCs, for example, are so different from each other.  CDCs should be instruments of redevelopment for each community in which they’re working.  Communities have different needs from each other, or at the very least have different emphasis on similar needs.  While one community may be continuing to address the foreclosure crisis, another community may have large vacant factory spaces.  These two organizations could be working within adjoining communities and still have significant differences in focus.  Use this to stand out a bit and talk about how you’re responding to the needs of your community specifically.

Finally, a cohesive message is only as good as the messenger.  Make sure that ALL staff, ranging from property managers to accountants, know how to present the organization.  It is not good enough if only the executive director or communications director can effectively talk about the organization  

Nonprofits, in general, and CDCs, specifically, can be tough organizations to define and to explain.  A CDC grant writer will tell you that it can seem like well-crafted butchery fitting an organization’s purpose into a 2,000 character text box in an online application.  Take the time to really think about how you can concisely present an accurate description of your organization that doesn’t sound like a list of items on a menu.  Be engaging, direct and to the point.  At the beginning and end it should be about people and how your organization helps make change happen by being a central resource that local people use to transform their community.

To read more about this topic, check out Joe Kriesberg's post "Is there a common theme that unites the CDC sector?"

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Stop saying you work at a CDC!

September 27th, 2013 by John Fitterer

CDCs are leaders in tearing down walls, literally and figuratively, and creating communities where ALL people can live with dignity while participating in and benefiting from our economy.  This is the ideal vision of what CDCs are striving to achieve.  But most people don’t have the faintest clue who we are or what the acronym CDC means.  The general public’s understanding of a CDC, if they have one at all, most likely is centered on affordable housing.  We, as a field, aren’t very good at telling the public what we do.  Why we do it. What we’re doing and what we’ve done.

Let’s start with acronyms. What is a CDC?  Well, of course, it’s the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta.  So are we handling Ebola strains in super-hermitically sealed labs?  No. If you search Google with the term “CDC,” we’re not even a Wiki entry on the first page, or the second, or the third.  The CDC acronym for our field doesn’t work by itself.  This means that you have to KNOW what CDC means in order to begin to get the results in Google relevant to our field.  The problem is worse than this one acronym because we have multiple acronyms just in our names:  NDC, NHS and CED.

Next is the statement “affordable housing” and how it applies to our field.  Do CDCs get involved and lead significant affordable housing projects in their community?  Sure.  But we aren’t affordable housing groups exclusively.  There are many organizations that are producing and preserving affordable housing. The term by itself is inaccurate to describe a CDC. It also can paint an ugly picture in people’s minds about what we do.  Affordable Housing often is associated with big government and gray tenements.  We don’t want to define our field with negative mental associations.  Finally, no one should talk to someone outside of our field or real estate development in general of housing units.  It’s a term that’s cold and used for budgeting and planning purposes.  Leave it there.

Then how do we explain to people what it is that we do effectively, clearly, concisely?  Obviously, this is a hard and complicated question to answer, but we must change the way the general public relates to our work if we want to attract new people to it. I’m not going to answer the question completely in one post, but we can start with the power of a quick defining statement and how it can effectively be used to tell our story a bit more clearly.

MACDC is a big acronym that says what we want to say to elected officials and people involved in our work, but absolutely nothing to anyone else.  It’s why we have adopted a statement that captures what we do without any acronyms and without talking about affordable housing:  “MACDC is an association of mission-driven community development organizations dedicated to creating places of opportunity where ALL people can live with dignity while participating in and benefiting from our Commonwealth's economy.” I can start a conversation off with someone who doesn’t know the field and not get stuck with stereotyping, negative connotations and perplexing acronyms.  This easily leads me into giving examples just about everyone can immediately grasp:  supporting fisherman on the Cape, cleaning up Brownfield sites, creating thousands of new homes across the state and helping families of all backgrounds compete in our economy.  People like hearing about all of this.  AND people relate to what I’m saying immediately.

CDCs are leaders in tearing down walls, except when it comes to sharing with the general public what we do and why. Let’s free ourselves from these language puzzle boxes and get out there and let people know what we do and why.


I want to hear from you and what your CDC or nonprofit is doing to overcome these communications challenges.  We’re always looking for better ways to express what it is we’re up to as a field.  Post comments here and let’s get the conversation going!

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