(The opinions and views expressed in the commentaries of The Somerville Times belong solely to the authors of those commentaries and do not reflect the views or opinions of The Somerville Times, its staff or publishers)
Locally owned, independent business have long been ingrained into the economic fabric of the City of Somerville. With significant changes on the horizon, having a strong commercial-tax generating base is something that should be on the forefront of every conversation about Somerville’s future.
Seeing the incredible transformation of Assembly Row, the increase of activity in the Ames complex and storefronts opening across the city is exciting. Continuing this economic boom can relieve the financial burden that so many residents feel, as maintaining our vital City services relies heavily on their tax contributions.
Somerville Local First encourages the administration to continue the prioritization of local industry during this time of evolution in the city, while also taking care to preserve smaller storefronts on existing commercial corridors. These smaller storefronts provide spaces where our locally owned, independent businesses can start and thrive, while providing foot traffic and connections on corridors between our squares—particularly along Highland Avenue, Somerville Avenue and Broadway.
These businesses not only help define the character of Somerville, they also return up to four times the money spent into the local economy. A study conducted in New Hampshire in 2014 (http://bit.ly/1wolwuU) concluded that locally owned retailers returned 62.4% of their revenue to the local economy, while national chain retailers returned just 13.6% of revenue.
New commercial spaces are very important to the future economic health and growth of our city, but older and smaller spaces remain more affordable to the quirky and creative businesses who have made Somerville the attractive place it is today while contributing heavily to the local economy. We want to make sure these are not lost in the shuffle of priorities as we determine Somerville’s future.
Somerville Local First Staff and Board of Directors
Joe Grafton, Founder
Kat Rutkin, Executive Director