Wu Announces Legacy Business Program To Support Iconic Businesses

Mayor Michelle Wu announced the launch of the Legacy Business Program, an initiative that will support longstanding, independent businesses in Boston through increased visibility and connecting them with City services and grant opportunities. 

“Our legacy businesses serve as anchors in our neighborhoods, expand opportunities for our residents and build community through Boston,” said Mayor Michelle Wu. “I’m thrilled to announce this program and I look forward to uplifting these treasured businesses and connecting them with the City’s services and resources.”

The Legacy Business Program will identify 25 iconic businesses that have been in operation for more than 10 years. Bringing this type of notoriety to businesses can help turn our neighborhoods into destinations and drive spending and pedestrian traffic into these local commercial districts. 

Businesses like these are neighborhood institutions that have helped to shape the construct of our City and, with increased visibility, the goal is to ensure that these legacy businesses can avoid displacement, grow their influence, keep residents employed, and enrich the cultural vibrancy of the City of Boston.

“This initiative is an opportunity for the city to honor the commitment, investment, and impact small business owners have made in our communities for decades,” said Segun Idowu, Chief of Economic Opportunity and Inclusion. “I am proud to have worked alongside Mayor Wu and our small business team, led by Aliesha Porcena, to deliver on a promise to our legacy businesses. This initiative will help ensure that generations of Bostonians will be able to continue supporting staple businesses who add to the fabric of our communities.” 

Potential Legacy Businesses must meet the following criteria to be considered: 

• It is a business that has operated for at least 10 years in the same location within the City of Boston.

• It is a business that contributes to the cultural, historical, and societal assets of Boston’s community or neighborhood (e.g. the business is located in the Little Saigon cultural district).

• It is a business that maintains its business in the City once designated as a Legacy Business.

Once a business has been designated as a Legacy Business, they have access to a number of resources. To increase visibility, they will be featured as a Legacy Business on City digital platforms. The City will also form partnerships with external stakeholders to promote each business as well as provide targeted technical assistance with a focus on succession planning and employee ownership, a commercial lease toolkit, and free legal consultation. 

“The Legacy Business Program gives Boston residents the opportunity to be part of the program and allows for them to share their stories of a local business and their impact within our neighborhoods,” said Aliesha Porcena, Director of Small Business. “We want to make sure all 23 neighborhoods in Boston are represented through this program, and provide resources and support to ensure these businesses remain vibrant within our communities.” 

“This investment in our locally-grown legacy businesses is crucial to lift up our neighborhoods and main streets, especially in District 4 where our small businesses are the lifeblood of our communities and reflect the rich diversity of our City,” said Councilor Brian Worrell, Chair to the Boston City Council Small Business and Professional Licensure Committee. “I look forward to continuing to work with the mayor and her administration to provide more pathways for small business owners to thrive in our City.” 

To celebrate, businesses will receive a plaque and a special badge to feature on their storefront, with a coordinated visit and photo-opportunity with a representative from the Mayor’s Office of Economic Opportunity and Inclusion, their City Councilor(s), Main Streets, and their nominating party. For additional support, businesses will be able to access the recently established $1 million Legacy Business Grant Fund to stabilize ongoing operations and rent, or to invest in physical improvements. For businesses that are 30 years or older – or Legacy+ Businesses – they will be eligible to receive a narrative video featured on social media, the city’s website, and other locations. 

The program will launch after Labor Day on Tuesday, September 6, 2022 allowing for residents to nominate their favorite local eligible business. Nomination forms will be available online in 10 different languages as well as in paper form and located at local branches of the Boston Public Library, Main Streets offices, and neighborhood organizations. Residents will only be able to nominate one business per cycle. The Economic Opportunity and Inclusion team will then work with the Boston City Council and the Legacy Business Review Committee to submit 25 recommendations to the Mayor for final approval, helping to ensure that these recommendations represent the rich diversity and heritage of our neighborhoods. Once approved, a joint ceremony with the Mayor and City Council for those selected will be held at Faneuil Hall.

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