Forging economic connections on the Fairmount Corridor

Opportunities seen for local job seekers

Sandra Larson | 11/30/2016, 10:35 a.m.

A strategy for boosting economic development along the Fairmount Corridor by attracting and retaining businesses and jobs — and particularly, connecting corridor residents to those jobs — appears to be gaining traction.

The corridor, which surrounds the route of the Fairmount Line of the MBTA commuter rail, is home to 135,000 residents and thousands of businesses, from small shops to larger food distribution operations and construction supply companies. The Fairmount Line cuts a diagonal path through the city, its trains running from the Readville area of Hyde Park to South Station in 30 minutes, serving parts of Mattapan, Dorchester and Roxbury along the way.

On the web

Report: “Fairmount Indigo Corridor Business and Job Attraction and Retention Strategy”: http://bit.ly/2gQGp6s

Fairmount CDC Collaborative: http://fairmountcollaborative.org

Newmarket Community Partners: http://newmarketcommunitypartners.org

Dec. 7 Newmarket job fair info: http://bit.ly/NewmarketBusinessDistrictRecruit or www.CareerSolution.org or call JVS at 617-399-3100.

A forum last month highlighted the release of a new report, “Fairmount Indigo Corridor Business and Job Attraction and Retention Strategy,” produced by Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), The American City Coalition (TACC) and the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City (ICIC) along with a working group of community stakeholders. The report contains numerous recommendations for stimulating business and job growth along the Fairmount Line and providing opportunities to local residents who could access the jobs by train.

The recommendations center around strengthening commercial and industrial clusters in the Newmarket and Readville areas, which are among Boston’s dwindling set of industrial-zoned areas.

Sue Sullivan, executive director of the Newmarket Business Association, said that many of her member businesses have job openings but can’t find people to fill them.

“And at the same time,” she said, “as I work with the Fairmount CDCs, [it’s clear that] these are some of the most underemployed areas of the city. So how do we connect those two needs?”

The hope is that the Fairmount Line could help make that connection.

“If you have people who can get to work easily, they would be good employees, arriving on time, able to get there. It would be a win-win for everyone,” Sullivan said.

Jobs connection

A key recommendation is to link employers and residents in the corridor. To that end, Dara Frederick recently came on board as a business employment specialist, a new position funded by the Fairmount Indigo CDC Collaborative.

In her first few months on the job, Frederick has been meeting steadily with employers, starting in the Newmarket Square area.

At least 30 jobs were available as of early November, she said, and some 13 residents had applied, with at least two making it to the interview process.

“There are a lot of residents with great resumes, but maybe they’ve been laid off or been home with children,” Frederick said. “The CDCs know the residents, and part of the plan is that the CDC organizers notify residents in their areas. They’re starting to get the word out.”

For those who are not ready for the available jobs, Frederick works to arrange on-the-job training or locate training with partner organizations, including STRIVE, JVS CareerSolution, Career Collaborative and New England Center for Arts and Technology (NECAT).