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

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

December 2013
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.