It’s become a joke of sorts in East Boston. Whenever you see an At-Large City Councilor cruising the neighborhood you mutter to the person next to you ‘it must be an election year’.
With the exception of At-Large City Councilors like Stephen Murphy, who has aligned himself with many of the neighborhood’s struggles and championed many local causes and John Connolly, whose presence in the neighborhood has been felt since he first ran for office several years ago, Eastie’s relationship with past at-large councilors has been lukewarm at best.
However, there’s a newly elected city councilor that wants to follow in the footsteps of Murphy and Connolly and not let Eastie’s geography as being the only disconnected neighborhood in Boston stop him from being a regular presence.
At-Large Councilor Felix Arroyo Jr. toured Eastie’s business district with colleague Councilor Sal LaMattina and East Boston Main Streets Director Clark Moulaison last Wednesday.
During the tour, Arroyo visited several businesses throughout Maverick Square to get a sense of the needs of the business community here.
“Over 70 percent of the businesses in this country are small businesses,” said Arroyo. “They are the backbone of our communities. I’m very concerned with small business development because they help define a neighborhood.”
Arroyo said he is interested establishing better service at City Hall for small business owners and residents that are thinking about opening a small business.
“There’s a culture in City Hall that we’ve created that when someone walks through the door to open a business, expand their business or has a problem with their business we act as though they are the first ones to ever approach city government with these issues,” said Arroyo. We need to a better job helping small business here and guiding them with business ideas, training and marketing.”
Arroyo pointed out that the city has established a Home Buying 101 program so why not start a Small Business 101 program?
“It only makes sense,” he said. “We’ve done everything to ensure first time home buyers know what they are doing when purchasing a home so why not have a similar program for future small business owners modeled after that?”
Arroyo said both small business owners and the city could benefit from such a program.
“There is a city and community process that one has to follow before opening up shop, but aside from that many small business owners once they are open don’t even know if they are making money because they have no training in accounting, business purchasing, or management…that’s what we need in the city.”
Throughout his tour here, Arroyo was impressed with diversity of the business community and the level of support it receives from people like Moulaison.
“From longtime residents to the new population to the organizations that help residents, East Boston is a thriving neighborhood,” said Arroyo. “With that said there are issues small business owners face everyday. I came here to listen and from listening gain and appreciation of what steps need to be taken to help and form better partnerships between some of the people here and City Hall.”