(Patrick D. Rosso/Boston.com/2012)
Working together and creating a community were the themes discussed at the Saint Mark’s Area Main Street’s networking breakfast Thursday morning at the Ashmont Grill.
With fresh scones and cups of coffee, over 30 business owners and residents discussed what it’s like running a business in Ashmont/Peabody Square.
“I’ve seen the community become more diverse with residents and businesses over the past few years,” said Tessil Collins, the owner of the Spectrum Broadcasting Company, which has been based in Dorchester for the past eight-years. “The new station has also really brought openness to the area.”
Owners of computer repair companies, barber shops, and boutiques all sat down Thursday morning to talk about what is working in the area and what could be done better. Many praised the local Main Street group for its work connecting businesses and promoting the business district.
“There were businesses here before but not many that served everyone,” said Candeleria Silva-Collins, a consultant in the area. “The fact that you have nice locations to have lunch and meetings makes it vibrant and gives you a place to meet people in a professional setting.”
Many said while they are still at times fighting to recover from the recession, the neighborhood and fellow businesses have been supportive.
“The community over the past couple of years has been up and coming,” said Cynthia Goodridge, owner of Cynthia’s Family Child Care and House Call Cat Grooming. “I think people are more willing to support local businesses nowadays and these type of events help let you know that you’re not alone out there as a business owner.”
Mayor Thomas M. Menino also made a stop at Thursday’s breakfast, talking with business owners and thanking Trinity Financial, CWC Builders, and Winn Residential for their monetary support of the Saint Mark's Area Main Street. Each corporation contributed $15,000 over three-years to the Saint Mark’s Area Main Street.
“I look at the Main Streets program and it’s been a vital part of making Boston the great city it is today,” Menino told the crowd. “It’s all about working together. Working together we can solve problems.”
Boston Main Streets is a federally funded, citywide program that works to revitalize commercial districts through a combination of technical, financial, and design support. The first Main Street program was implemented in Roslidale in 1995 by Menino and today there are 20 Main Streets groups citywide.
“The small businesses are the fabric of a community,” said Menino after the event. “They employ local people and bring resources back into the community and the money that is spent at local businesses stays right in the neighborhood.”
Many long time business owners and residents said business in Dorchester and the square is getting better, bringing in new customers and showing the city that good things are happening in Ashmont, even attracting young entrepreneurs.
“I wanted to open my business in a spot that was up and coming,” said Stephen Oliver, the owner of Timelines Unisex Barber Shop, which opened in April across from Ashmont Station. “I wanted to have a business in an area that reminded me of the South End or Back Bay, a place that was thriving.”