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.

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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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Viet-AID names Hue Pham new Executive Director

August 26th, 2015 by

Viet-AID announced yesterday that Hue Pham was their new Executive Director.  MACDC's board and staff looks forward to working with Ms. Pham as she builds upon Viet-AID's 21 year legacy of successfully helping lead the revitalization of the Field's Corner neighborhood in Dorchester.

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What are CDCs doing with funds raised through the CITC program?

August 17th, 2015 by Joe Kriesberg

Since the CITC program started last year, there has understandably been much discussion about how CDCs across Massachusetts are raising new funds and diversifying their overall funding base (CITC: By the Fundraising Numbers). But what’s of even greater importance is how these organizations are actually using these funds to deepen their impact on people and places. Even though 2014 was the first year of the Community Investment Tax Credit, and the majority of donations arrived during the final quarter of the year, we are already beginning to see the impact of this program.

MACDC and DHCD surveyed all 36 CDCs that participated in the CITC program in 2014 and found that 64% of them expanded their organization’s goals and 89% deepened their community engagement. Check out the table (PDF) to see all of the results from our survey.

A core goal of the CITC Program is to encourage and support CDCs to meaningfully engage local residents in leadership roles. So we were pleased to see that 89% of the CDCs reported that the program helped them expand their community engagement work, 67% said it resulted in more board engagement, and 58% said it helped generate more volunteers. A second goal of the CITC program was to help CDCs offer a more comprehensive array of programs to their community that combines real estate development with business development, family asset building and community programing. Many CDCs are using their new CITC funds to do just that with CDCs also using it boost their small business work (25%), their workforce development activities (22%), their family asset building programs (33%) and their programs for youth & seniors (25%).

CITC funds are typically unrestricted, which means that they can also be used to build internal capacity. Therefore, we were not surprised to learn that 83% reported that they increased their operational capacity, with 33% of CDCs using CITC to expand their communications capacity; 28% to expand fundraising capacity; and 28% to improve information systems critical to measuring impact. This was indeed part of what we hoped to accomplish with the program since these capacities are key attributes of successful, 21st century CDCs. Equally exciting, 89% of the CDCs said the program would help them increase their organizational budget and 75% said it would help them leverage non-CITC funding.

The CITC program is just getting started.  The early results suggest that the program is both growing resources for the field and enabling CDCs to strengthen and deepen their efforts. At the same time, we have room for growth and room for improvement. MACDC looks forward to working with our members and partners to ensure that CITC program reaches its full potential to help the people and places of Massachusetts thrive.

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