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Economic Development Practice

Small Business Technology Empowerment

The BMSF Technology Initiative began one year ago with the mission of modernizing Main Street districts with industry leading technology and businesses processes. In an economy defined by educated, customer centric demand we knew this to be the best path for small businesses to compete in a global marketplace.

The new reality of COVID-19 has brought unprecedented challenges to the small business community, upending the lives of not only entrepreneurs but the families that rely on their existences. With resulting shifts in the consumer behavior, we repositioned program objectives and technology to focus on ecommerce, online ordering and expense reduction. These changes will help save many Main Street businesses, at risk of closure with Covid-19, and position them for longer term growth.

Our program has proven to be a successful partnership between the BMSF, Boston Main Streets Program and technology providers willing to discount and adapt their solutions. This formula shapes more sustainable businesses, making them better able to withstand whatever 2021 brings.

Through a grant from Citizens Bank, we provide qualifying BMSF businesses a bundled offering of technology which has been proven to reduce costs and increase sales.  This bundle includes at no cost to the participating businesses: 


Our Impact in the Community

Our Tech Initiative has impacted 14 businesses across seven BMSF districts since the pilot phase. These efforts have generated ~$40k in projected cost savings and $76k in new online ordering sales. Over 67% women-owned and 75% minority-owned enterprises.

Harry Walsh
Harry WalshOwner, Mission Hill Bar & Grill
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“Our restaurant hesitated to change point of sale vendors due to the daunting time commitment and technically requirements. With CRA's help we selected and installed the Quantic POS solution seamlessly with our day-to-day operations. Our new system enables many new features like online sales, is super easy for staff to work with, and saved us thousands in fees. After 13 years with the wrong POS, CRA helped us make the change in less than 3 weeks. From start to finish, everybody has been very helpful. This program has been very good for our business and comes at an important time."
Donnell Singleton
Donnell Singleton Owner, Food for the Soul
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“Having been born and raised in Boston, the community has done so much for me throughout my entire life. Now, it’s important that I give back to my community and set an example of what it’s like to be an entrepreneur. This program has not only given me the understanding of what I need to run a successful operation, but the confidence to do so. I truly appreciate the patience and support the team has provided me throughout the entire process. The relationship and commitment is priceless.”
Samantha Anson
Samantha AnsonOwner, Sam’s Spot
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“I would like to thank you all from the bottom of my heart for allowing me and my brand to be a part of such an amazing organization. I am overjoyed and overwhelmed with emotions (all positive lol). I can't stress enough how grateful I am, but I will show you by working my hardest and achieving my goals with your assistance.    You guys have a life changing program, especially for people such as myself, so I would just like to wish you all the best, success and longevity! Anything you ever need from me in the future please don't hesitate at all.”
Veronica Robles
Veronica RoblesFounder, Veronica Robles Cultural Center
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“As a small non-profit corporation, we have limited funds and due to the current health crisis, we need to take immediate actions to streamline and improve our daily operations, finance and customer services to adapt to the new reality and reopen our programs and services. With our budget, we would not be able to have this new technology and these opportunities. We are quite grateful for this program. “
Dalila Vargas
Dalila VargasOwner, Toasted Flats
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“It’s really important to me as a business owner that I balance a positive employee and customer experience. Technology has been critical to the success of being able to do so. Not only has this program allowed me to deliver an ordering solution that’s easy for my employees to use, but it’s also easy for my customers. The program has improved my quality of life and has ultimately allowed for the growth of my small business within our community.”
Program Demographics (Race)
Program Demographics (Gender)

Feedback from the Boston Main Streets Foundation

The Boston Main Streets Foundation, a public-private initiative established by the City of Boston in 2007, has been the driving force behind the revitalization of the City’s neighborhood commercial districts. BMSF is committed to making Boston’s neighborhood commercial districts thriving, vibrant centers of commerce and community.

The Foundation seeks to develop long-term strategies to increase the economic power and resources of neighborhood commercial districts while pursuing initiative that build knowledge and capacity for Main Streets programs and the businesses they serve.

Program Partners

Managing Partners, Economic Development Practice

Grant Cohen

Grant Cohen

Managing Partner

Grant serves as a Managing Partner in CRA's Economic Development Practice founded in 2019. Prior to working with BMSF and the City of Boston, he has developed community impact programs for Esperanza International, The First Tee, RISPCA and the Amos House. Email:

Joe Lawlor

Joe Lawlor

Managing Partner

Joe serves as a Managing Partner in CRA's Economic Development Practice founded in 2019. After earning his MBA in 2011 he's been working with local economic development committees and his own firm to provide small business support and development through technology. Email: