Boston unveils plan to foster small business growth

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BOSTON – The first-ever comprehensive plan to help people start and grow smaller businesses in Boston was announced Wednesday by Mayor Marty Walsh.

With 40,000 small companies in the city, the small business plan will act as a guide to support services and resources for entrepreneurs as they get established.

“This plan gives us the roadmap to do just that,” said Mayor Walsh in a statement. “We have laid out three goals to help us accomplish this task:  ensure a thriving small business economy in the city, enhance the vibrancy of our neighborhoods, and continue to pursue economic and social inclusion and equity.”

According to, a personal-finance focused website, small businesses in Boston need all the help they can get. The site’s “2015’s Best Cities to Start a Business” ranked Boston 115th overall, including 96th for access to resources and 142nd for its business environment. Shreveport, Louisiana, ranked first, followed by Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Springfield, Missouri.

But other national surveys list the Hub as one of the best places to start a business. A 2014 Forbes ranking put Boston eighth best behind Dallas. San Diego topped its list of the best places to launch a new business.

Boston ranked fourth among cities as a place for entrepreneurs in the Global Startup Ecosystem Ranking last summer, ahead of all the international cities examined but behind California’s Silicon Valley area, New York and Los Angeles. Other U.S. cities that trailed Boston in the ranking from included Chicago, Seattle and Austin, Texas.

 Walsh’s small business plan identifies top priority needs for Boston’s small businesses that were found through outreach to city business founders and operators. Research methods included interviews, roundtable discussions, surveys and additional research.

The plan development process uncovered gaps between the city’s small business assistance ecosystem and the firms and entrepreneurs it’s supposed to help, such as a single point of access to information, capital resources and office or industrial space.  It outlines strategies to close those gaps.

The city also unveiled a database of small businesses in Boston, with details about some 40,000 firms that collectively produce $15 billion in annual revenue employ 170,000 people. Almost a third of the firms are minority owned and 85 percent are very small, employing fewer than 10 people and generating less than $500,000 in annual revenue each.

“After investing so much as small business owners in Boston, we’re thrilled to see the city of Boston investing so much in small businesses,” Solmon Chowdhury, a member of the panel that helped the mayor’s staff assemble the plan, said in the city’s statement. He said he and his wife, Rokeya, have started and operate three restaurants, in Savin Hill, Roslindale Village and, most recently, Dudley Square.