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Boston pushes to promote diversity in city development projects

A new policy requires project applicants to share plans about management roles for women, people of color, and minority- and women-owned businesses.

A new planning and development policy aims to add more diversity to Boston’s large development projects.

Mayor Michelle Wu and the city’s Chief of Planning Arthur Jemison on Thursday announced that the Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) recently adopted a policy introducing diversity, equity, and inclusion into the filing process for large development projects. 

The new policy calls on development proponents to share diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) plans for large projects when filing with the BPDA. The agency said the new policy is likely the first of its kind in the nation.

“Our residents, developers, and businesses all want the same thing: we want to see Boston thriving and growing sustainably, and connect opportunity to all of our residents, in particular our young people,” said Mayor Wu. “This new policy is about ensuring success is spread across our communities, while incentivizing sustainable growth and creating more transparent processes.”

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Under the policy, applicants filing large project plans must include information about economic participation, employment, and management roles for people of color, women, and certified minority- and women-owned businesses within the scope of their project.

BPDA Chief of Planning Arthur Jemison emphasized that building a city that is equitable and representative of Bostonians is important to the agency. This policy, he said, will help the city reach that goal.

“Development can be a catalyst to not only bring positive investment to our neighborhoods, create good jobs and affordable housing at a range of levels, but also bring opportunities to build wealth for those who have historically been left out of Boston’s building boom,” Jemison said in a press release.

Going forward, the BPDA said it will collect the plans to understand disparities in the real estate market, increase participation of minority- and women-owned businesses, and evaluate strategies to drive greater impact. 

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