Gruner Appointed as Director at Main Streets

While former East Boston Main Streets Executive Director Clarke Moulaison has moved onto bigger and better things and now runs Carmella’s Market (formerly Gloria’s Foods) at the corner of Everett and Cottage Street, he has left behind some pretty big shoes to fill.

During his tenure, Moulaison got Main Streets back on track and returned the non-profit to its original intent of beautifying Eastie’s business district.

Last week, the EBMS Board of Directors announced it has selected Max Gruner as its new Executive Director.  The selection was made after an extensive regional search and selection process.

“We are very pleased to announce this appointment,” said Elizabeth Tanefis, Board President at East Boston Main Streets.  “Max (Gruner) will bring leadership and creativity to the organization and its programs as well as a strong sense of commitment to the future, sustainable development of East Boston.”

Gruner’s resume includes over 15 years of non-profit management experience.  He has served as a leader in the arena of Health and Human Services, particularly Developmental Disability, Education, Community Development, and Transportation.

Gruner holds a Master’s Degree as well as numerous certifications in non-profit management.  Prior to this appointment he was a founding partner in a strategic consulting group, was executive director of a statewide trail organization, and served as a senior manager of a human service organization.  He has also founded several non-profits, has served on numerous boards, as well as having founded a language immersion charter school.

“I look forward to partnering with the people and businesses of East Boston to continue to increase the quality of life of all residents and to create a vibrant and prosperous business district that will benefit all who live, work, and visit East Boston,” said Gruner.  “I am dedicated to this work because it provides us an opportunity to showcase the rich cultural heritage, natural beauty, and vibrant business opportunities of a community that is ideally situated to truly becoming the Gateway to Boston.”

Gruner added that EBMS, in partnership with all its private and public partners, plays a key role in supporting and developing the innumerous opportunities for growth in order to increase the areas quality of life for all.

EBMS started as a novel idea–to take a stretch of Eastie’s business district along Meridian Street decimated in the 1970s by poor design, steel grates and unsightly signage and transform it into an attractive commercial area with a uniformed look.

Throughout the 1990s EBMS exploded onto the scene handing out grants to businessman on board with Main Street’s vision of storefront improvements and a more welcoming business district begun to develop.

However, for several years prior to Moulaison’s arrival in 2006 things slowed down and somewhere along the way EBMS vision was lost. EBMS began partnering with agencies that had nothing to do with storefront improvements, improving business or having the resources to transform Meridian Street. In a nutshell, EBMS became complacent that while it was able to transform a dozen or so storefronts in the 1990s the scope and resources needed to do the rest of the district was proving to be too much work.

Moulaison, who was the EBMS board president before becoming executive director, was able to secure funding through grants and fundraising for storefront improvements.

During his six-year tenure, dozens of businesses in the Main Streets district improved their storefronts and signage. Also, Moulaison had the ability to convince new business owners to agree to attractive storefront designs.

Like Moulaison before him, Gruner now faces the task of getting the city to partner with EBMS’s vision. While EBMS would direct business owners on the type of signage they ‘should’ put up, at the end of the day it was up to the city to enforce sign and storefront codes.

A lot of times, much to the frustration of EBMS, there was no enforcement.

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