Dear JPNDC Friend,
If you could change one thing about Boston’s building boom, what would it be?
If you’re like me, you may jump right to “create more affordable homes!”
But there’s another side to the boom that’s just as inequitable, even though it’s less glaring than luxury housing. It’s that only a tiny percentage of construction profit is going to local contracting firms owned by people of color and women.
I’m very excited that JPNDC is doing something about it!
A “staggering” wealth gap exists in the Boston area, according to the Federal Reserve Bank. White households enjoy a median wealth of almost $250,000. Among African Americans, it’s $8. And for Dominicans, it’s below zero.
For people who aren’t born wealthy, one of the main ways to build assets is to start a business. That’s why JPNDC has provided technical assistance and access to financing to these entrepreneurs for two decades. Although few get rich, many are eventually able to buy homes and send their children to college.
Today, we’re taking this work to a new level by focusing on the multi-billion dollar construction industry. Construction firms owned by people of color make up 38% of contractors in Boston. Yet their sales and receipts add up to only 2% of the total.
We see this huge gap as an opportunity. Combining JPNDC’s small business expertise with our real estate connections, we’re helping family-owned businesses break down barriers and get the kinds of contracts that can allow them to create living-wage construction jobs and strengthen their own long-term security.
We’re connecting them with experienced mentors whose guidance and connections are invaluable. We’re walking them through the maze of steps that lead to eligibility for large contracts. And we’re advocating with large companies to take down the barriers that now say, in so many words, “small businesses need not apply.”
Our project is still small but we’re excited by the impact so far. Our first group of business owners report that they’ve secured new contracts totaling over $2.5 million.
Entrepreneurs are risk-takers and problem solvers, hard workers and multi-taskers. They’re far from helpless. But business owners who are people of color or women didn’t create the systemic barriers that often keep them just treading water. If you or someone you know might be interested in being part of this program, you can learn more here.
That’s why JPNDC is committed to working, together with you and others in our community and city, to make our vibrant city a more equitable one.
Check out this slide show to see more of JPNDC’s diverse work over the past year. Thank you for giving what you can!
P.S. JPNDC is also putting its money where its mouth is by prioritizing minority- and women-owned firms in our own construction of affordable housing. You can see the data here.