Jamaica Plain Residents: We Need Your Help to Support Local Businesses

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JP Centre/South Main Streets (JPCSMS) is a volunteer-led non-profit that works to strengthen the JP Centre/South business district as a vibrant center of community life. Right now, we are confronting the economic realities of the COVID-19 crisis, and suddenly finding ourselves in the position to lead our community in economic recovery efforts.

Dozens of volunteers have already reached out to discuss how to best support our local businesses. Please read below to learn how you can contribute to ongoing recovery efforts.

JPCSMS has identified three projects for immediate and long term impact. We focused these projects on themes that emerged from several conference calls with the community and JPCSMS board members. Each of these three projects will be led by a project team:

● Project 1: Triage and Immediate Relief

● Project 2: Long-term Sustenance and Advocacy

● Project 3: Recovery Task Force

Learn more about these projects, and how you can volunteer in this essential work.

Group 1: Triage and Immediate Relief

What is this task force?

Our first step will be to understand the immediate needs of local businesses, and what support will best meet these needs: e.g. cash grants, sales, or gift certificates. Right now, we’re collecting contact information for businesses. We intend to learn from each business:

  • Are you open/able to sell?
  • What will help you right now?
  • Do you expect to have long-term needs?

Why is this work important? 

To find out if a business has an immediate need to stay open. Do they need quick cash to pay rent or employees? Do they need to expand their capabilities for expanded online presence?

How are we doing this?

  • We are compiling a list of businesses and their contact information.
  • Then we will distribute a survey to this local network of businesses. We will contact them via email, phone and/or physical letter at their location. The survey is available by clicking here.
  • Once we have the results of the survey, we’ll start to plan immediate help and promotions to provide cash in the short-term, whether it’s finding a grant, crowdsourcing funds, creating a business platform for e-commerce, and/or promoting the business.

What help do we need? (Volunteers can be remote, except for survey drop-offs) 

  • Volunteers to help compile business contact information
  • Volunteers to help email, call, and drop-off surveys at their locations.

Group 2: Long-term Sustenance and Advocacy

What is the task force?

  • From the initial triage, we will determine which businesses require assistance in the next 3 months. Businesses that need a longer term sustainability plan will be referred to this group, where we will research loan options or cash grants and advocate on behalf of businesses (e.g. rent and taxes).

Why is this important?

  • This is a task that should be held in reserve on a case-by-case basis.
  • Learning more deeply from businesses also informs our advocacy work with city and state officials.

How are we doing this?

  • We will research loan options and cash grants that meet a business’s needs. These options will be focused on sustained support for these businesses. Thinking two or more months ahead: What will be their needs? (e.g. rent, mortgage, loan payments, employees, etc.) How do we help them? What do we advocate for? Do we need to fundraise?
  • We’re advocating on behalf of businesses to the city and state for measures that bring relief to businesses in terms of rent and taxes. Two examples are City of Boston Resolution 0562 and Emergency Relief Rent Rebate Tax Credit. This will be done by meeting with elected officials and spreading the word to the public about supporting these measures.
  • District 6 City Councilor Matt O’Malley has agreed to meet with our task force. We are also seeking an opportunity to meet with state Rep. Liz Malia.

What help do we need? (Volunteers can be remote)

  • Volunteers to help work 1:1 with businesses who require it, then refer them to the appropriate resource.
  • Volunteers to help research long-term loan options or cash grants, etc.
  • Volunteers to add their voices to our advocacy efforts by contacting their elected officials and pushing for recommended policies.

Group 3: Recovery Task Force

What is the task force?

This group will focus on recovery in the aftermath. This group will have three goals.

  1. Addressing expected vacancies
  2. Shoring up businesses on weak footing
  3. Community engagement

Why is this important?

  • Our team estimates between 17-45 vacancies of storefront businesses in Centre South Main Streets in Jamaica Plain. This number can vary widely depending on the forms of assistance that we will see from the federal government’s recently passed bill. Even the businesses that make it through will need an extended amount of time to recover from business losses.
  • The crisis is on everyone’s mind at the moment, but recovery will need continued and sustained support from the neighborhood. We want to be ready with a plan when that time comes.

How are we doing this?

  • We’ll ideate and prepare with action plans.
  • We’ll research the following questions on economic recovery: How do we strengthen the businesses that barely survive this crisis? Will they need marketing/advertising? Will they need technical assistance or coaching? Will they still need financial assistance? How can these resources be provided?
  • Our organization will need to fundraise in order to launch community events, technical assistance, marketing, and promotions.

What help do we need? (Volunteers can be remote) 

  • Volunteers who are ready to ideate and plan community placemaking events.
  • Volunteers to help investigate economic recovery opportunities specific to Jamaica Plain and will identify which businesses will need this help.
  • Volunteers to promote and fundraise in order to launch community events.

How do I get involved?

For all of the above task force groups, you can reach out to JPCSMS Executive Director, Ginger Brown at director@jpcentresouth.com with your preferred task force team and availability.

We are so grateful for the volunteers who have already come forward to help. These people include: Matt Lesniak, Elizabeth March, Adam Grenier, Rebecca Gray, Ziba Cranmer, Josh Muncey, and members of the JPCSMS board of directors. From every part of the globe, we are learning the value and importance of every person in the hierarchy of our working world. You too are important to our community, and we would so value your contributions to help in this time.

Ginger Brown is the Executive Director of JPCSMS and Stephanie Nguyen is a Board Member of JPCSMS.

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