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28 Replies Latest reply: Feb 12, 2009 3:07 PM by SBC Team RSS

Event: Local resources to build your business

SBC Team Master
Currently Being Moderated
Many small business owners don't know that they have help right in their backyard, literally.

Keith Hunt heads the Office of Business Development for the City of Boston. The Office of Business Development provides quality services and resources to entrepreneurs, business owners, and neighborhood business districts to help businesses expand, create jobs and play a vital role in local communities and the City's economy.

The Office helps business owners identify and coordinate a full range of business services, including help with business plans, marketing, and permitting, referrals to private and public sources of capital, design services, and commercial real estate development finance. For more information, please visit: http://www.cityofboston.gov/dnd/obd

Ask Keith questions like:

 

 


  • What business development resources can the city provide me?
  • What kind of support should I expect from my city?
  • Will the city continue to help me after I'm established?

Post your question for Keith here and then check back on February 12th at 2:00PM EST, or any time thereafter for his reply. You can post a question any time during the event hour. However, he may not have a chance to answer all of them.
  • Re: Event February 12: Local resources to build your business
    BavarianAuto Newbie
    Currently Being Moderated
    Are there resources available for a "green" business (recycling focus)?
    • Re: Event February 12: Local resources to build your business
      kh02127 Newbie
      Currently Being Moderated

      The City of Boston has many resources available for business of all types. Some of the assistance is tied to the type of business and the business location. Some of the types of assistance are as follows:

       

      • Technical assistance to assist you when dealing with the City's planning and licensing agencies. Whether it is help with getting a building permit, defining a scope of work, obtaining a zoning variance to getting your business open we have programs for you.
      • The City of Boston has a façade and signage improvement program that will assist you in presenting a good public face to your business. The façade program is a matching grant program which provides up to $7,500 per "storefront" renovated (many business have more than one "storefront"). The program also allows for up to $2,500 to pay for new signage, there is no match required for this part of the program. All projects are subject to our design approval process.
      • We can assist you with the design of you building, signage or logo.
      • We can help you develop a business plan.
      • We can work to connect you with other sources of public and private funds.

       

      So in conclusion, yes there are resources available for "green" business within the City.
  • Re: Event February 12: Local resources to build your business
    pdmiller Novice
    Currently Being Moderated
    What type of marketing solutions are available through a city?
    • Re: Event February 12: Local resources to build your business
      ADGinNH Newbie
      Currently Being Moderated

      Colleague:

      It all depends on size of city and your needs. Some examples:

      • Cities-County-State may have web-sites where they will feature or link local businesses.
      • Also, they are always looking for interesting web content, so if you have a story to tell, they may host it
      • All states have a service funded by the Dept of Defense that - for free- allows you to establish an account to receive bid information from the federal government Procurement Technical Assistance Programs (or PTAPs) will guide you thru the processes. Note, it is a process, not a quick fix, but may provide long-term client base.
      • Also, some entities host "Buy Local" initiatives

      Check their web-sites under Economic Development or Business Assitance. Hope that helps.
    • Re: Event February 12: Local resources to build your business
      kh02127 Newbie
      Currently Being Moderated

      The City provides some one on one technical assistance as well as occasional seminars on marketing for small business. The City can help you improve you public image through design assistance and image development. If your business is located within one of the City's 19 Main Streets districts additional resources are potentially available.
  • Re: Event February 12: Local resources to build your business
    ADGinNH Newbie
    Currently Being Moderated
    Any business that has growth-job creation potential should check what services are available from economic development and/or small businesss counseling organizations in their town-region-state.

    Your economic developer should be someone you know, and who knows you. Just don't expect free money, that doesn't happen at early stages; at later stages it only happens for places where the community needs to give away $ to get someone there-sound attractive? Usually not once the facts are known.

    You do not need to know the "alphabet soup" of development acronyms, just find an economic developer in your community that does. Our ask here. And with economc stimulus funds coming - in a big way - with the new federal budget, the time is now.

    Good hunting!
  • Re: Event February 12: Local resources to build your business
    StonesThrow Newbie
    Currently Being Moderated
    Related to BavarianAutos's question, is there preferential treatment for business that are trying to go "green?" Will they be moved to the front of the line in terms of receiving developmental resources? What does Boston do to promote green building?
    • Re: Event February 12: Local resources to build your business
      kh02127 Newbie
      Currently Being Moderated

      There are a number of initiatives with in the City to promote Green Building. These programs are primarily handled by the Boston Redevelopment Authority or the City's Environment department. The City strongly encourages Green Building techniques and energy conservation. The City is currently working to develop a energy conservation and Job Creation Loan fund in conjunction with Boston Connects Inc. This loan pool will be available to business located within the City's Empowerment Zone.
  • Re: Event February 12: Local resources to build your business
    caffeinated Apprentice
    Currently Being Moderated
    Keith,

    I have a business across the river in Cambridge, MA. I read about a program on the city of Boston's website called "Boston Buying Power." Can you share with me, and the rest of the Community, what that program is and how it will benefit small business owners? Do you know if other cities will be adopting similiar programs?
    • Re: Event February 12: Local resources to build your business
      kh02127 Newbie
      Currently Being Moderated

      Boston Buying Power is one of the Mayor's newest initiatives. The goal of the program is to aggregate small business owners together so that they can obtain Electricity and Gas at better prices than they are currently paying. Any business is eligible and there is no cost to join. Currently over 100 business have joined the program and are experiencing energy savings of over 20% on the base NSTAR rate. We anticipate that this program will grow significantly over the next year. There have been 3 electricity buys so far with another anticipated by the end of the month. Hopefully we will also be able to do a gas purchase by mid March at the same level of savings. For more information please go to Bostonbuyingpower.com. The sign up is easy!

       


      For those business located outside of Boston our partner, Taylor Consulting and Contracting can assist you with joining the Boston Buying Power purchasing pool. Your participation will help everyone, the larger the energy purchase the greater the discount. Once again please visit Bostobutingpower.com or call 888-317-3923 for more information.
  • Re: Event February 12: Local resources to build your business
    StonesThrow Newbie
    Currently Being Moderated
    Keith, how do small business engage the city when bidding for development projects? How do I even find out if there are city projects to bid on?
  • Re: Live event: Working with the city to grow your business
    SBC Team Master
    Currently Being Moderated
    Community,

    To join this event, simply revisit this thread at 2PM EST today. Eventhough you're not located in Boston MA, he will be able to give you insight on similiar programs that may be in your area as well as how to properly engage municipalities when trying to grow your business.

    Drop Keith a question now to ensure he has time to respond. Remember to refresh your browsers often to see the latest responses. We'll see you this afternoon!

    The SBOC Team
  • Re: Event February 12: Local resources to build your business
    Vince Novice
    Currently Being Moderated

    Keith, thanks for being here for the Community!

    I took a look at the Office of Business Development's website and came across a great resource, "Small Business Resource Guide." It noted 3 tips business owners should know before starting, expanding or relocating their business:

    • Start early
    • Take steps inthe right order
    • Know the rules

    Could you elaborate on those tips and why they are so important?

    Vince
    • Re: Event February 12: Local resources to build your business
      kh02127 Newbie
      Currently Being Moderated
      Thanks for taking a look at our website! This is a great way to explore what resources the City has to offer. The answers to your questions are as follows....

      Start Early. Prepare your application well in advance of the date you wish to start any activity that may require a license; it can take time to get a license approved, especially if you need a permit that requires inspections or approval from multiple city departments (e.g., Inspectional Services -Building and Health Divisions, Consumer Affairs, Fire, Transportation) or qualifying exams.
      Take Steps in the Right Order. Knowing what is required to obtain the permit will save you time and aggravation. For example, know what documents you will need to submit with the application and prepare them in advance. If the permit you need requires multiple agency approval or both City and State approval, you should get them in the order indicated.

      Know the Rules. You need to be informed about what you can and cannot do under the regulation or law because - even if you don't know the rules - inspectors do. Before you commit to a location. If you have questions, call the relevant agency and ask.

      As we all know time is money and knowledge is a great time saver. Always ask first. Make sure you are on the right track! The Office of Business development is here to help you. Feel free to call 617-635-0355 and someone will be there to assist you in getting to the next step.
  • Re: Live event: Working with the city to grow your business
    BrickandMortar Newbie
    Currently Being Moderated
    Do I need special permits to hang a sign outside my store or place a sandwich board on the sidewalk? Can the city assist with other marketing efforts?
    • Re: Live event: Working with the city to grow your business
      kh02127 Newbie
      Currently Being Moderated

      All signage is subject to City approval. The Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) administers the City's sign codes. The Office of Business Development can assist you in getting your signs approved. It is always important to get your sign approved before you have it fabricated. The Office of Business Developement offers a signage program, it is actually part of the ReStore Program. In general the first $2,500 of the cost of a sign can be reimbursed. You must apply to the program and recieve design approval before you order or put up the sign. There are currently funds available for this program. we can also help with the design of your sign.

      As a general rule the City does not allow the placement of sandwich board signs on the sidewalk.

      The City does offer some technical assistance through nonprofit providers on marketing efforts.
  • Re: Event February 12: Local resources to build your business
    Howard Novice
    Currently Being Moderated
    I am thinking about relocating my business to another city but what to find out more info on topics like zoning rules & regulations, incentives the city may offer for new businesses, etc.? Do most cities have "welcome kits" for businesses? What department do I go to first to figure this all out?
    • Re: Event February 12: Local resources to build your business
      kh02127 Newbie
      Currently Being Moderated

      I hope that that city you are considering relocating to is Boston! Each City has its own way of communicating information on Zoning and Regulations. The best place to start is on the City's website. Boston's web site (CityofBoston.gov) is an excellent starting point to research this information. As a general rule the Zoning regulations are complex and subject to interpretation. Do your homework before you make any long term commitments. Most City Websites have a search feature, search for Business assistance, or Economic Development. In Boston the best palace to start is at The Office of Business Development. Most larger cities have some variation of this department. When in doubt give a call or send an email and ask. Cities and towns are always looking for new business to add to the local economy.
  • Re: Event February 12: Local resources to build your business
    SBC Team Master
    Currently Being Moderated

    Hello Community,

     


    Please join me in welcoming Keith Hunt, Assistant Deputy to the Office of Business Development for the City of Boston. He will be posting as kh02127.

    Keith, want to take it away?

  • Re: Event February 12: Local resources to build your business
    Tori Novice
    Currently Being Moderated

    Keith, really appreciate your time here today!

    I saw that the City of Boston has its own Facebook page. First off, very cool! Secondly, are cities looking for new ways to communicate with their citizens on programs and events? I noticed they even have a Small Business discussion board.

    ~Tori
    • Re: Event February 12: Local resources to build your business
      kh02127 Newbie
      Currently Being Moderated

      The City is always looking for new and better ways to engage it's residents and Business, whether it is through community organizations, City sponsored programs, or on the Web, the City seeks to build a sense and spirit of community. Any suggestions you have to improve our contact with business would be gladly accepted. And no matter what add the City of Boston as a friend!
  • Re: Event February 12: Local resources to build your business
    kh02127 Newbie
    Currently Being Moderated

    The Staff here at the City of Boston's Office of Business Development is here to help you with all of your business needs. Whether you are starting a business or growing an established one we are here. Before you make any commitments do your research! We can guide you through the process. We offer a complete range of products catering to the new and expanding business. From technical assistance, façade improvement grants, loans for various types of business we are the place to start and check in as you grow your business. We deal with new business every day and are ready to help.

     

    If you are not located in Boston, try your local City's Business Division. They should be able to help you prosper and grow. Each City and Town has its own programs and focus, check out the resources that your municipality has to offer today.
  • Re: Event February 12: Local resources to build your business
    SBC Team Master
    Currently Being Moderated
    Keith,

    We're approaching the end of the hour. Any last thoughts or words of wisdom for the Community?
  • Re: Event February 12: Local resources to build your business
    SBC Team Master
    Currently Being Moderated
    Keith, all great responses and very professional!

    Community, our time with Keith has now concluded. We hope you enjoyed the event. If there's one thing to take away from today, it's that the local government is often an overlooked, untapped resource.

    Be sure to take a look at the latest and greatest program, Boston Buying Power, http://www.bostonbuyingpower.com/

    For more information on Keith, the Office of Business Development and the City of Boston, please visit http://www.cityofboston.gov

    Have a great day!
    The SBOC Team

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