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Sandra Larson

Stories by Sandra

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An artistic vision at Bartlett Station

Arts, public plaza will be at center of Bartlett Station development

With Bartlett Station’s first rental apartments and home ownership units now coming into view, a visioning and planning process has begun for a 15,000-square-foot outdoor public plaza expected to be built in 2019.

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Biz forum highlights solutions

Speakers tout success models for easing Hub economic inequality

An audience of some 350 people gathered Monday night at the Federal Reserve Bank in Boston for a discussion of solutions to racial and economic inequalities in Massachusetts. The event, organized by the Black Economic Council of Massachusetts, brought together political, government and business experts. In short presentations, a slate of speakers described successful models that help minority-owned business enterprises thrive and grow.

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Report: MBTA is vital for economy, worthy of investment

Authors find public transit lessens traffic, encourages economic growth in region

The MBTA system delivers an annual benefit of $11.4 billion to Greater Boston on an operating budget of just over $2 billion, the researchers calculated. That $11.4 billion — in reduced travel time and cost, reduced emissions and crashes avoided — translates to a benefit of $6,700 per household in the region.

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Supply chain diversity

Program aims to boost prospects for suppliers of color

The Pacesetter program, modeled after the Minority Business Accelerator program of the Cincinnati Regional Chamber, encourages companies to commit not only to increasing their contracts with suppliers of color and participating in Chamber-sponsored matchmaking and networking events, but to measure and report their increased spending with MBEs and share best practices on economic inclusion.

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Crafting a consultancy

Entrepreneur taps training, experience in tech business

Growing up in Barbados, Ryan Brathwaite was drawn to computers mainly because his uncle in the U.S. was doing something with technology and it “sounded cool,” he says.Today, at 40, he is CEO and president of Tech Wave Group, providing information technology consulting to clients ranging from individuals, small businesses and nonprofits to large institutions.

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A banner year for business

Local firms, new and old, make their mark in Boston

Throughout 2017, the Banner’s business pages highlighted local entrepreneurs, those risk-takers who have set up shop to offer services and products from branding to beauty supplies, fitness to fences, sweets to soul food. Some hung their own shingle in an area of accumulated training and experience, while others took a leap from one field to pursue something completely different.

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Brew with a purpose

Entrepreneur harnesses coffee to help Ethiopian farmers

With Farmer’s Horse Coffee, Kassegn Sirmollo aims to share Ethiopian coffee and to offer a welcoming vibe for his customers, many of whom are students and faculty at nearby New England Conservatory and Northeastern University or T riders who get on and off at the Mass Ave Station of the Orange Line.

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Sweet success

A village of experts and peers helps a Dorchester baker grow her business

Teresa Maynard left a full-time job as assistant director of fundraiser and user support at Harvard University’s development office in 2016 to pursue her dream of opening a bakery.

Up next for Dudley plan: a design workshop

Since February 2016, Dudley Square has been the focus of one of the Boston Planning and Development Agency’s community planning initiatives, joining similar efforts in Jamaica Plain/Roxbury and South Boston (Dorchester Avenue). The next meeting — and the last for the 2017 calendar year — will be an urban design workshop on Monday, Nov. 27 from 5:30–8 at Central Boston Elder Services.

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The business of food

Entrepreneurship program grads share their creations and pitches

First piloted in Fall 2016, Food Biz 101 is an accelerator specially designed to address the nuts and bolts of starting a food-related business. Classes cover recipe scaling, cost of goods, labeling regulations, licensing and permitting as well as business practices such as public relations, marketing and entity formation.

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Entrepreneurship ‘para todos’

SBA grant helps EforAll expand Spanish-language programs

EforAll started in 2010 as the Merrimack Valley Sandbox, a project under UMass Lowell with initial funding from the Deshpande Foundation. The mission was to build a community-based entrepreneurial ecosystem where people and institutions from across the community get involved and encourage entrepreneurship.

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Filling the gaps for formerly incarcerated Bostonians

Office of Returning Citizens director working to solidify partnerships, offer wraparound services

Kevin Sibley is director of the city of Boston’s Office of Returning Citizens, a newly launched initiative within the Office of Public Safety to support individuals returning to Boston after release from state, federal and county correctional facilities, as well as others who were previously incarcerated.

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Epicenter, TCP join forces

Merger aims to create pipeline to creative economy

The merger of two Boston-based social enterprises has created an organization with new capacity to propel youth and adults toward success in entrepreneurship and the creative economy. Epicenter Community, formerly Future Boston Alliance, is known for its signature programs Accelerate Boston, a mentoring and training cohort program for aspiring entrepreneurs, and Assemble Boston, a series of cultural and social gatherings connecting diverse individuals and groups across the city. Transformative Culture Project, which began in 2008 as Press Pass TV, focuses on young people, supporting community-based arts organizations, offering training in arts and media production in schools across Massachusetts and running a youth-staffed production agency.

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Making design inclusive

Firm focuses on solving challenges for social impact organizations

Kristen Ransom, founder and CEO of IncluDe software design and development agency, was in college studying human factors engineering at Tufts University when she landed an internship at Harley-Davidson motorcycle company. There, she tackled the problem of designing motorcycles to fit women’s bodies.

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Boston Chamber opens doors

Opportunity director works to advance economic inclusion

Sheena Collier joined the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce last year as its first director of economic opportunity.

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Slade’s Bar & Grill changes hands

Slade’s Bar & Grill, one of Lower Roxbury’s longtime go-to spots for R & B music and soul food, is under new ownership — but patrons can rest assured that they’ll continue to find the same food, entertainment and atmosphere they know and love.

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Building a local economy

Ujima Project aims to put economic control in neighborhood hands

The Boston Ujima Project took a step forward last weekend with an inaugural assembly to launch its effort to build a new community-controlled economy in Boston’s neighborhoods of color.

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Boston Workers, advocates rally for unions, pay

Fast food strike, march mark Labor Day

On a day many New Englanders celebrate as the unofficial last day of summer with beach trips and BBQ parties, hundreds of low-wage workers and labor advocates took to the streets of Boston to call attention to their fight for a $15 minimum wage and for union rights.

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City seeks restaurateur tenant for prime Dudley real estate

The city of Boston is once again seeking a full-service restaurant tenant for the large vacant space at the front of the Bruce C. Bolling Building in the heart of Dudley Square. Finding the right restaurateur-tenant for the prominent location is critical to an enlivened Dudley Square, say experts and community stakeholders. Its two-year vacancy underscores the challenges in bringing new economic vitality to a square that has served as a commercial hub for a largely low-income neighborhood.

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A strong start for Brazo Fuerte Artisanal Beer

Attorney leaves corporate world to open craft brewery

Bev Armstrong, founder, CEO and head brewer of Brazo Fuerte Artisanal Beer, knows her career path is unusual. The Harvard-educated attorney and MBA made a “complete left turn” into entrepreneurship, hanging her shingle as a fulltime craft beer brewer in 2016, following a 15-year stint in the biotechnology industry in such high-level roles as CFO, general counsel and VP of operations.

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Advocates rally against housing budget cuts

Trump, Republican-led Congress put forward plans for deep budget cuts

Hundreds of housing advocates from Boston and across the state gathered near Faneuil Hall last week to protest budget cuts proposed by President Trump especially, and Congress to a lesser degree, that would decimate funding for many key housing-related programs.

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Marketing master goes with the flow

Zamawa Arenas branches off on her own with Flowetik

Venezuelan-born serial entrepreneur Zamawa Arenas previously spent 20 years with the full-service marketing firm Argus — 15 of those as co-owner — before hanging her own shingle in June.

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Advocates fight to save Melnea Cass Blvd trees

The group Friends of Melnea Cass Boulevard is urging city and state transportation officials and Mayor Marty Walsh to delay a street redesign plan in order to address community priorities regarding tree preservation and safety and to ensure adequate community oversight of the project.

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Business growth in Mattapan

City workshops help local entrepreneurs with expertise

The city of Boston’s Office of Economic Development has launched series of small business workshops in Mattapan. The weekly series, which began June 20 and runs through Aug. 15, is part of a traveling Small Business Center that will provide neighborhood-located workshops for small business owners and people considering starting businesses.

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Teacher-entrepreneur serves up fish in Uphams Corner

The compact space at 744 Dudley St. has a few bright-red chairs and two wood tables that fold out from the wall for inside seating when needed, but most customers come in for meals-to-go or fresh seafood to cook at home. On a given day the fresh display is likely to contain whole grouper, porgy, red snapper, jackfish and tilapia and fillets of whiting and salmon. A chalkboard lists many other fish types she can stock on request.

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Duplessy Foundation aids entrepreneurs pursuing a passion

Duplessy formed the Duplessy Foundation in 2009 as a way to tie together two areas of expertise: business consulting and youth leadership. With fundraising workshops, coaching and related programs, he hopes to be able to assist in particular like himself: children of immigrants forging their own paths and entrepreneurs yearning to harness their passion into a meaningful and money-making business.

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Mass Innovation Nights event highlights black tech founders

Fourteen local black-owned technology and innovation companies showcased new products and services at last week’s Mass Innovation Nights product launch and networking event in Grove Hall.

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Youth-led summit hits climate justice themes

The 11th annual YouthCAN Climate and Sustainability Summit, organized by the Boston Latin School Youth Climate Action Network (BLS YouthCAN) in partnership with the MIT Technology and Culture Forum, was held May 13 at the MIT Stata Center in Cambridge. The day-long event, free and open to the public, drew some 240 youth representing at least 38 public and private schools in Greater Boston and surrounding suburbs.

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Fire Code Design's Ronnette Taylor-Lawrence charts a path from trades to entrepreneurship

As an entrepreneur and a tradeswoman, Ronnette Taylor-Lawrence has been a trailblazer. Starting as a young single mother in the 1980s, she worked her way up from laborer to journeyman plumber, becoming the first woman of color to receive her plumber’s license from the Plumbers and Gasfitters Local 12 Boston union. Today, she is a master plumber and fire sprinkler contractor running her own business, Fire Code Design, a Boston-based full service fire extinguisher and fire safety company offering sales, repairs and service to commercial and residential clients.

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Santander Bank's new program focuses on entrepreneurs in low-wealth communities in Boston

Santander Bank this week announced “Cultivate Small Business,” a pilot initiative designed to assist women-, minority- and immigrant-owned businesses in food-related industries. The program’s focus is on helping to fill gaps in networking, mentorship, training and access to capital in order to smooth the path to business success, a path that can be particularly rocky for entrepreneurs starting out with few resources.

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Savvor serves up Southern and island comfort in Boston's Leather District

When Eddy Firmin was ready to start his own restaurant after spending years in the corporate world and as a restaurant co-owner, he created the kind of place he would want to go to. “This is me,” he says, sitting recently in the dining room of Savvor, the restaurant and lounge he opened in downtown Boston in 2014. “It’s stuff I like to eat — good food, nothing crazy. Our recipes come from all over — from my mother, from family members, borrowed from a lot of places.”

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Trainer’s lifelong love for exercise translates into business success

Inside Out Fitness Concepts founder Joe Sumrell traces his interest in physical fitness way back, probably to age 6 when his mother started him in judo classes. Throughout his school years, he played just about every sport available. Later on, he took up competitive bodybuilding and earned the shelves full of trophies that line IOFC’s walls and storefront on Dudley Street in Roxbury. And at 58, Sumrell still competes in track and field, where he is ranked nationally and internationally in multiple events.

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New York-based Golden Krust Caribbean Bakery & Grill comes to Boston

Jamaican food chain’s next Boston site will be in Dudley Square

Mattapan residents, Greater Boston’s Caribbean community, local elected officials celebrated the grand opening of Boston’s first Golden Krust Caribbean Bakery & Grill on Saturday.

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DaRosa property maintenance company rose from 2015 blizzards

For Domingos DaRosa, the record-breaking 2015 winter sowed the seeds for a new business. He started DaRosa Property Maintenance LLC in 2015. The 39-year-old father of four had been helping his parents, neighbors and friends for years with snow removal and other odd jobs. When those extraordinarily snowy months hit, his phone started ringing. He purchased snow blowers and gathered some helpers, mostly family members. Within two weeks, he says, he had customers across eastern Massachusetts — Taunton, Easton, Billerica — all through word-of-mouth referrals.

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Lower Mills optical shop offers full service and a relaxed vibe

At Eye & Eye Optics, owner Bobin Nicholson wants the experience of choosing the right eyeglass frames to be as enjoyable and relaxing as the reggae music he loves. In 2010, the Dorchester resident purchased the former Peters Optical business in the Lower Mills neighborhood and retrofitted the shop to reflect his style and create a full-service eye care facility with an ophthalmologist on staff.

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Natural skincare in Jamaica Plain

Entrepreneur takes a DIY approach to building a business

Inside a tiny storefront on Jamaica Plain’s South Street, the light-filled interior of Faith’s Naturals feels surprisingly spacious. White walls, a high white tin-paneled ceiling and light-toned wood shelves, coupled with a few deep-pink accents, create an inviting look to the narrow space. Neatly arranged on the shelves are jars and bottles of face and body scrubs, oils, soaps and hair care products, all handmade by owner Faithlyn Scarlett with plant-based ingredients such as flaxseed extract, arrow root powder, aloe vera gel extract, coconut oil, honey, lemon juice and crushed oats.

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Report charts persistent inequities in Greater Boston

While the Greater Boston area has grown more diverse over the past five years, the region remains racially and economically segregated, a new report shows, with the average income 18 times higher for the highest-earning fifth of households than for the lowest fifth, and widening income and wealth gaps disproportionately affecting blacks and Latinos.

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Female entrepreneurs find woman-to-woman support

In Boston, 18,709 woman-owned businesses employ 26,209 people, account for more than $4 billion in sales and provide more than $208 million in tax revenue, according to Women Entrepreneurs Boston (WE BOS). Yet by many accounts, women face greater challenges in raising capital and attracting investment for their businesses and in finding mentors and supportive networks. A program of the city of Boston’s Office of Small Business and Office of Women’s Advancement, WE BOS was launched in 2015 to help convene and support women entrepreneurs.

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La Fábrica brings the Spanish Caribbean to Cambridge

The logo of La Fábrica Central, the new Spanish Caribbean restaurant and live music spot in Cambridge’s Central Square, features a trapiche, the type of wheel that grinds sugar cane into molasses. La Fábrica means “the factory,” and the symbolic logo, along with an actual 400-pound steel trapiche shipped from the Dominican Republic to Cambridge to adorn La Fábrica’s dining room wall, pay homage to the workers who toil in the Caribbean islands to produce sugar, molasses and rum.

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Berklee College of Music professor’s online courses provide access for all

Berklee students learn music business basics from John Kellogg in for-credit classroom and online courses. But in 2014 Kellogg opened the door for people anywhere to be schooled in basic legal and business aspects of the music industry at no charge, by developing the first Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on music business.

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Dorchester pop-up market features community vendors

The Ujamaa Bazaar, a pop-up market organized by the Black Economic Justice Institute, Inc., will be open every Saturday this month from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the large hall at 61 Columbia Road in Dorchester. BEJI recently moved its headquarters into the lower floor of the building, which is home to the Massachusetts Association of Minority Law Enforcement Officers, Inc. (MAMLEO).

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The Partnership marks 30 years

Organization helps people of color rise through corporate ranks

The Partnership, a nonprofit with a mission of diversifying Boston’s corporate leadership pipeline, is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. Since 1987, the Boston-based organization has offered leadership development programs to nurture the talent of African Americans and, increasingly, other people of color traditionally underrepresented at the highest levels of business and industry. Over the years, the organization has worked with some 300 partner organizations and now has a network of more than 4,000 alumni.

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Outside the Box Agency's marketing business built around storytelling

Outside the Box Agency President Justin Springer’s path has always been nontraditional, and his entry into entrepreneurship is no exception. A few years ago, when he was frustrated by a string of unfulfilling jobs and job searches, a friend mentioned Future Boston Alliance, the organization known for championing innovative ideas for Boston, but less known at the time for its new business accelerator program. To his surprise, he received word that he’d been selected for Future Boston’s accelerator cohort.

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Proposals are in for city’s Roxbury housing competition

A jury of design experts, city officials and residents of Roxbury’s Garrison Trotter sub-neighborhood is evaluating six development proposals submitted as part of a city of Boston pilot Housing Innovation Competition launched last November.

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Office of Economic Development aims to grow Boston’s small businesses

Boston has 40,000 small businesses that provide some 170,000 jobs, nearly half of all employment in the city, according to the city’s Small Business Plan released last May. And the vast majority of the city’s small businesses — both downtown and in Boston’s many neighborhoods — are “micro-businesses” with fewer than 10 employees and less than $500,000 in revenue. The Mayor's Office of Economic Development (OED), formed in 2014 by the incoming Walsh administration, has been ramping up its efforts to support existing and new small businesses, providing a range of services to help them get a foothold, survive and thrive.

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‘Memory cafe’ takes aim at elder isolation, dementia concerns

Memory cafes are new to Boston, but the model was developed in the 1990s in Holland, and over the past decade has spread across the U.S. In some areas they are called “Alzheimer’s cafes,” but memory cafes are not Alzheimer’s education sessions or support groups. A 2005 evaluation of memory cafes in the United Kingdom observed that the cafe setting provides “a safe space in which to ‘re-story’ the experience of dementia.” Organizers say cafe participation can open a path to starting difficult conversations about dementia.

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In Boston, who will bear climate change burden?

Increase in extreme heat days poses threat to already-vulnerable residents

Boston is in for more severe storms, damaging floods and dangerously hot days in the coming years, experts say. While all Bostonians will feel the impacts of extreme weather and increased flooding, the impacts may be felt hardest in the city’s communities of color and lower-income neighborhoods. These residents already face a slate of challenges and inequities that will make it harder to withstand heat waves and bounce back after disasters.

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Panel, report decry push for privatization in Massachusetts

From the MBTA’s recent outsourcing of its cash-counting operations to the heavily-funded campaign to lift the cap on charter schools, Massachusetts is witness to a push for greater privatization of services that traditionally have been public, or government-provided.

Forging economic connections on the Fairmount Corridor

Opportunities seen for local job seekers

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.

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City seeks innovative housing proposals for Roxbury

The city is offering several Roxbury land parcels for sale to developers as part of a pilot competition to encourage the creation of “compact” multifamily rental or ownership housing with a range of affordability.