Changing the Business Environment to Create Inner-City Jobs

“Neighborhood Revitalization Districts: Pathways to Prosperity Along the Fairmount Indigo Corridor, A Guide to Incentives for Advancing Economic Growth” explains the Neighborhood Revitalization District Concept, how it works, and how it can be adapted to create lasting economic benefit in four revitalization districts along the Fairmount Indigo Line in Boston, MA. This vision is realistic. Analysis of similar state enterprise zones established in the early 1980s throughout the United States demonstrates clear, measurable success. Based on the success of a large number of zones, the results can be projected to the neighborhoods around the Fairmount Line to provide a reasonable estimate of the number of new jobs, business expansions and new businesses that will emerge from a properly formulated economic development program.

The goals of a Neighborhood Revitalization District are:

    • Stimulate job creation
    • Retain and expand commercial and industrial facilities
    • Attract new industry and business to vacant and new sites
    • Promote the area’s revitalization through increased economic activity

A revitalization district works because, rather than focusing on any one problem, it presents a plan to simultaneously address underlying economic issues. Its promise is to create an economic environment conducive to moving communities forward. It potentially can convert the economic environment of the area from a risk-heavy environment to an environment that offers opportunities for all to benefit and businesses with unique incentives to start and expand in these communities.

The Neighborhood Revitalization District directly address the key problems – the disincentives for hiring residents, the disincentives for new businesses to come and disincentives for businesses to expand. By focusing primarily on profitable businesses as the driver of neighborhoods jobs, the seeds are sown for sustainable growth.

A Neighborhood Revitalization District can be a win, win, win, policy. Residents are better off and local businesses benefit. Furthermore, these benefits can be achieved at minimal cost to the local and state governments. Unlike many current approaches to economic development, the Neighborhood Revitalization District concept does not require expensive subsidies.

This report recommends four areas of Boston as designated Neighborhood Revitalization Districts, each with specific incentives to attract business and build employment:

    1. The Newmarket Neighborhood Revitalization District
    2. The Readville Neighborhood Revitalization District
    3. The Retail & Service Neighborhood Revitalization District stretches south along the Fairmount commuter rail line from Massachusetts Avenue to Cummins Highway.
    4. The Pathways to Prosperity District consisting of Roxbury plus large sections of Dorchester and Mattapan. This district would provide a targeted pool of potential employees for the three revitalization districts designated above. Residents of this area will benefit from the employment incentives. Businesses in the three business districts would receive primary benefits of this program only by hiring at least 35 percent of new employees from this area.

Necessary Steps and Forecasted Benefits
Based on the documented experiences of similar state enterprise zones in the 1980s, these four districts are likely to produce 1900 jobs and 195 new or expanded businesses within the first two to three years of implementation. Approximately 1250 of these new jobs would be for residents from the Pathways to Prosperity District. The job and business creation will continue for years beyond this initial time period. The growth within 5-6 years could potentially double the current estimate. Making these new jobs and improvements a reality requires that Boston and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts take action.

Designating these districts and implementing these incentives can jump-start the economic stagnation that has left the neighborhoods of Roxbury, Dorchester, Mattapan and parts of Hyde Park underdeveloped with high unemployment.

Download the paper and learn more about TACC’s work in the Fairmount Indigo Corridor here.

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