Boston is a world leader across many innovative fields — medicine, education, technology, professional services, to name a few. And yet the swift and shocking financial impact of COVID-19 has devastated many sectors of Boston’s economy and laid bare the economic inequities in our city. Too many of our families have lost jobs and are now being forced to put their health at risk to pay their bills, particularly in communities of color and among the lower-wage workers who have been hardest hit.
As Mayor, Andrea will harness the leadership and innovation that is unique to Boston to drive economic recovery, while tackling our City’s divides and capitalizing on our city’s vibrant diversity. She knows that a thriving, inclusive economy that works for everyone is built on the foundation of good schools, affordable housing, and jobs that pay a living wage with opportunities for growth.
As Mayor, Andrea will champion industry leaders, non-profit organizations, and policies that place racial equity at the center of economic development and recovery, starting with how the City does business. She will create stronger mechanisms for families to access affordable rents, generate savings, and have paths to home ownership and economic security, particularly for households headed by women and people of color. And Andrea will bring together the best of the public and private sectors to make sure Boston remains an international leader, home to innovation and progress, while ensuring that as our economy grows, all Bostonians reap the benefits of our city’s success.
As Mayor, Andrea will:
Create The Conditions For Businesses To Bounce Back, Better Than Before
Boston’s businesses create the majority of Boston’s jobs, so in order to get Boston back to work, Andrea will engage and support businesses to rebuild and rehire in each and every neighborhood.
- Make it easy to do business in Boston. Boston’s economic recovery will be built on innovation and entrepreneurial energy. To help make that possible, Andrea will streamline licensing and permitting processes, making it easier to start or expand a business in Boston, particularly in the restaurant industry and for businesses in under-licensed neighborhoods that have been especially devastated by the pandemic. Doing business at City Hall shouldn’t look like it did a generation ago. Andrea will ensure that our city government operates as efficiently as the private sector, for instance taking advantage of technology wherever possible and allowing residents to submit paperwork online.
- Bring more efficiency and equity to development. It is expensive and time-consuming to build in Boston, and yet the recent construction boom has still left communities without critical assets such as affordable housing and accessibility to public transportation. By improving transparency, inclusion and predictability in our planning and development process, while also exploring zoning reform, Andrea believes Boston can accelerate the creation of much needed additional housing and reimagine development in the city in a way that prioritizes equitable economic growth.
- Support small businesses. Many small businesses have been devastated by the pandemic, with available relief programs heavily oversubscribed. And yet the importance of small businesses — in both job creation and wealth creation across Boston’s neighborhoods — has never been clearer. That’s why in the next budget, Andrea will be calling for expanded investment in small businesses. Boston is rich with programs dedicated to building the tools and resources small businesses need, but accessing these resources can be challenging, especially for neighborhood-based businesses. As Mayor, Andrea will expand the Small Business Development Office to become a one-stop shop — both delivering direct services as well as helping small businesses connect with programs that can address their specific needs such as coaching, licensing, location assistance, accessing debt and equity capital and other technical assistance. To make sure that the needs of minority and neighborhood-based small businesses do not fall through the cracks, instead of a single downtown Small Business Development Office, Andrea will ensure services are available in multiple locations. And just as we protect renters to stay in their homes, the City must protect small businesses from displacement.
- Lift up businesses run by historically under-represented groups. Businesses owned and led by women and people of color were under-represented in the Boston economy even before the pandemic. Andrea believes that with a combination of transparency, tools, and accountability, the City can help level the playing field, and as Mayor, she will begin by convening best-in-class practitioners and experts to develop a plan for Boston. That is likely to include using market data to encourage businesses to build in high-growth fields, helping our growth-orientated small businesses mature into mid-stage businesses and create more good jobs, and mobilizing the banking community to provide access to capital. We also need better data and information — as Mayor, Andrea will insist the City immediately follows through with its long-awaited Disparity Study while also ensuring easy to access directories of businesses owned and led by under-represented groups. In addition, Andrea will bring together Boston businesses and anchor institutions that can be partners in an equitable recovery, building a coalition of organizations committed to diversifying their own supplier relationships and their own leadership.
- Protect our creative economy. From artists and musicians to museums and concert halls, Boston is rich with talent and creativity. These individuals and institutions are an indispensable piece of the City’s lifeblood and have helped establish Boston as a regional and national hub of creative energy. As one of the industries hardest hit, they deserve extra resources and support through the pandemic. But this is about more than protecting current artists and resources — it is about expanding Boston’s arts and culture community throughout our neighborhoods and across creative mediums. In 2019, Andrea organized the launch of the first Mattapan Jazz & Unity Festival, bringing Boston’s rich cultural resources to a neighborhood often overlooked. As Mayor, Andrea will support dedicated arts and cultural sub-districts in target neighborhoods to preserve and enhance our cultural community. She will prioritize and protect artist and performance spaces being threatened by displacement, promote the expansion of public art, and connect our arts and cultural institutions to our public schools, seniors, and business community.
Maximize The Impact Of The City’s Own Budget
Boston is a wealthy and resource-rich city, with the most recent City budget at $3.6 billion. Our wealth is an opportunity across many dimensions: to build a stable foundation on which innovation can flourish, to invest in the infrastructure Boston will need in the future, and to be more strategic about what we buy and from whom.
- Accelerate capital investments to strengthen City infrastructure. The City currently has a $3 billion five-year capital plan. With interest rates at all-time lows and the City able to responsibly borrow to invest in its future, now is the moment to accelerate that investment. In next year’s budget, Andrea is calling for the City to phase in a significant increase in capital spending, focused on two critical areas: schools and climate change. Investing today in school infrastructure as well as the sustainability and resiliency of our city (including both sustainable housing and transportation) will not only build the Boston we need in the future, but also put Bostonians back to work in good jobs, particularly in the neighborhoods most affected by the pandemic.
- Manage the City budget efficiently and effectively. Successfully managing the City’s budget is an essential foundation to Boston’s recovery, allowing the City to avoid layoffs of personnel, sustain services to residents, and maintain the City’s credit rating. As a City Councilor, Andrea has been a consistent voice for efficient and effective management of taxpayer dollars. For the 2019 budget, for example, she was the lone vote against a BPS budget that had bloated without delivering improved student outcomes or needed operational efficiencies in areas such as transportation. As Mayor, Andrea will strengthen the City’s finances with steady, consistent focus on operational excellence, prudent long-term planning, and attracting exceptional managers to her Cabinet to lead the City’s departments.
- Make city procurement equitable and inclusive. Today, Boston’s procurement process is profoundly inequitable – less than five percent of the City’s discretionary contracts have gone to women and minority-owned businesses. Andrea has joined advocates to push for clear goals and accountability, with targets of 7%, 14% and 20% WMBE contracts over the next three years. As Mayor, Andrea will make this a reality, by streamlining and simplifying procurement to make it easier for a wider array of suppliers to submit bids, increasing the capacity of the City personnel to help small businesses navigate the process, and including procurement personnel in overall efforts to diversify the City’s workforce.
Close The Racial Wealth Gap
The Federal Reserve Bank of Boston reported that the median net worth of a Black family in greater Boston was just $8, and as low as $0 for families in some of our Latino and Latinx communities, compared with a median net worth of $247,500 for white families — gaps that have likely widened due to the pandemic. This stunning inequity is the result of multi-generational cycles of poverty created by systemic structural imbalances. Because of racist policies and practices, entire communities in Boston have been denied critical opportunities to earn income, build financial stability and wealth, and access capital to pursue their educational and economic goals. This is a profound waste of Boston’s human capital, limits our economic growth potential, and — as 2020 has so painfully exposed — reinforces inequities that destabilize both our economy and the social fabric of our city.
- Build the long-term opportunities every Bostonian needs and deserves. Andrea has long been a champion of equity across the range of fundamental needs for our residents – particularly education, housing, transportation, and health. Far too often these needs go unmet in Boston, disproportionately in communities of color, leading directly to deep economic disparity. The long-term path to an equitable economy requires a coordinated set of policies promoting access to opportunity across city services
- Create more affordable, sustainable housing. Boston needs more housing. High rents eat up paychecks and make it difficult for families to save or build wealth. Boston’s high housing costs also make it harder for businesses to attract talent, exacerbate segregation, and strain our transportation systems with long commutes in heavy traffic. To meet our housing needs, Andrea believes we must streamline the process to make it faster and less expensive to build in Boston, including an overhaul of our systems to create a more transparent and inclusive decision-making process that determines who gets to build where. As Councilor, Andrea’s first piece of legislation was the Community Preservation Act, which now generates roughly $20 million annually for affordable housing, historic preservation, and parks and open space in Boston. As Mayor, Andrea will continue to fight for affordable housing, connecting the public and private sectors to address issues such as financing for non-profit developers, the creation of mixed-use development, and filling empty storefronts and vacant lots.
- Increase access to banking and saving. Roxbury, Dorchester, and East Boston have 57% of the city’s check-cashing locations but only 12% of the city’s commercial bank branches. These figures illuminate a history of structural disadvantage, but today our banking landscape is shifting as more and more is done remotely. This transition represents an opportunity, and Andrea believes Boston must help ensure residents take advantage of these shifts to overcome historic inequities while protecting residents from predatory lending practices. Andrea also believes city government must do more to help families generate savings and supports city-run savings programs for families who need it most. That could include expanding the Boston Saves program to help more students pay for higher education and job training or creating “opportunity accounts” that seed savings for every child at birth, an experiment showing promise in other cities and that deserves to be tested in Boston.
- Support ownership of businesses, properties, and homes, particularly in communities of color. Ownership can be a critical tool in helping build wealth. As a Councilor, Andrea led the implementation of asset building and financial coaching opportunities to support families living in subsidized housing through the Boston Housing Authority and will continue to build on this work as Mayor. Increasing ownership of a home, business or property requires living wages, equal access to financial services, financial training and coaching, and dedicated supports to help residents build assets and navigate the often complex path to ownership — all elements that Andrea will fight for as Mayor.
Lift Up Our Workers
By many measures, Boston has one of the most educated and skilled workforces in the country, and until the pandemic, enjoyed low unemployment. And yet, deep inequity persists. Employment and wages are lower for Black and Hispanic workers, even at similar levels of education. And far too many families are not able to afford basic necessities for themselves and their children despite their hard work and best efforts. The pandemic has only widened these disparities.
- Fight for the basic rights of all workers. Every worker from every community, whether part of a union or not, deserves a good job with fair compensation so they can support their family, with time off to care for family or to recover from illness or childbirth, reasonable working hours, and protections from predatory employment practices. As Councilor, Andrea sponsored legislation to protect residents from employment discrimination based on their credit history. And as Mayor, she will continue to fight for pay equity, paid family leave and parental leave, a fair work week, paid sick time, and livable wages.
- Support organized labor. Organized labor endured four years of assault by the Trump administration. Andrea believes city government should be a bulwark against these and other anti-labor attacks, protecting the rights to collectively bargain, and standing with our workers as they organize for a more just and equitable economy. Andrea also believes the benefits of voice and organization should reach more workers and, in particular, more workers of color.
- Invest in training and other supports to get people back to work and on pathways of career growth. Despite having some of the world’s best educational institutions in our backyard, for decades our education system has failed to prepare too many of our residents, particularly those of color, for work and careers. Now more than ever, Andrea believes in the urgent need for creative and collaborative workforce development, including partnerships with our high schools, institutions of higher education and private sector employers that prepare residents for post-COVID opportunities. As City Councilor, she has fought for opportunities for young people linked to jobs in high-demand industries, and economic growth that breaks down silos and brings business leaders and communities together. As Mayor, she will invest further in training in growth industries and technologies, programs that help unemployed or underemployed lower wage workers attain recognized certifications (not just degrees), the redesign of BPS high schools to provide multiple pathways to career success for our students, and employer-sponsored on-site English classes.
Build Today For The Economy Of The Future
Boston has long been hailed as an international leader across many fields of research and innovation. Andrea believes in investing today to support our continued leadership and economic growth in the future. As COVID raises questions about the long-term appeal of cities across the world, the pandemic intensifies the need for intentional investment to grow and expand existing businesses, attract new businesses, and support institutions, thought leaders and innovators who create Boston’s dynamism and foster experimentation.
- Support and nurture innovation. From the green economy and healthcare to technology and bio-tech, Boston must invest to remain a global hub for science, technology and research, which is key to our foundation for future innovation. Andrea believes we must ensure that Boston is where we commercialize that research, where we encourage and support new businesses to launch and grow, and where we create spaces, both physical and virtual, to connect communities of like-minded entrepreneurs. These networks should draw on the best of both native Bostonians and those who are new to our city — and we should work to hold on to both, so that the great minds that are trained in Boston stay in Boston.
- Ensure all Bostonians reap the benefits of growth. Unfortunately, the benefits of past innovation have not been felt by all workers, particularly in communities of color, exacerbating historic economic inequities. Future investment in growth should start with addressing those inequities so that we unlock the talents of all Boston residents, including partnerships with private employers, workforce development, deliberate neighborhood planning and exposing our Boston students to entrepreneurship even during their high school experiences.
Since her first run for office, Andrea has been a vocal leader for equity, fighting to transform our systems to better serve all residents of Boston. That voice comes from her personal lived experience of multi-generational cycles of poverty and incarceration, and from seeing first-hand the tragic outcomes when families and children are denied the opportunities and supports needed to reach their potential. As Mayor, Andrea will fight to ensure not only that the economy of Boston recovers and thrives, but that we also make meaningful progress in breaking down the systemic inequities that have plagued our city for far too long. This will unleash the full potential of Boston’s economy, making the most of the talents and brainpower of all of our residents. Under Andrea’s leadership, Boston’s economy will be more dynamic, vibrant, and inclusive than ever before.