The BLDC honors Black History Month 2021 with City Fresh Foods

The Boston Local Development Corporation (BLDC) would like to highlight the powerful contributions one minority owned business is making to improve the lives of all Bostonians.

Born out of a need for access to fresh foods in urban areas, City Fresh is the brainchild of Glynn Lloyd. What started out as a market outside Franklin Park in the 90s, has evolved into a state-of-the art 14,000 square foot facility that provides home-style nutritious meals. During the current crisis, their mission is now more critical than ever.

The BLDC is proud to have been able to assist with a small business loan to City Fresh when Glynn Lloyd had just launched in 1994 out of a kitchen in Roxbury.

As City Fresh Foods continued to grow, Glynn was joined by his brother Sheldon in 1996, who is now the CEO. City Fresh Foods has now become a staple in the Boston food service community and has worked to address food insecurity throughout the City by delivering nutritious, delicious and ethnically diverse foods. Their mission has always been to bring healthy food to communities whose needs have often been ignored.

City Fresh’s menu is fueled by and reflects the diverse makeup of its employees and the community in which it operates. The team specializes in bringing meals to children, the elderly and their families. They reach these groups through servicing schools, child care and adult care programs, while also providing home delivery services for the elderly. This business model is what has led their team to be a critical support for economically vulnerable populations, especially during today’s COVID-19 crisis.

City Fresh Foods has also started a program with the YMCA of Greater Boston to provide emergency feeding at dozens of sites around the Boston area, at local YMCA’s but also other places like Prince Hall Grand Lodge and The Freedom House in Grove Hall. Since the pandemic start, the company has increased meal and delivery production to up to 20,000 meals a day.

On this past Juneteenth, on what could not have been a more appropriate date, City Fresh Foods was able to announce that it had succeeded in buying out its shareholders and had finally become a fully minority-owned company! Glynn and Sheldon Lloyd then finally had full ownership of City Fresh Foods. They didn’t stop there.

The dream of the Founders has, for years, been the idea that City Fresh Foods would one day be a community-operated, managed and owned company. In December 2020, that dream would become reality when City Fresh Foods was able to introduce an Employee Stock Purchase Program (ESPP). Employees were able to buy in and now, in addition to Glynn and Sheldon, there are 34 employee owners of City Fresh Foods; thirty-one of whom are People of Color.

Glynn left the day-to-day operations at City Fresh Foods in 2015 and now serves as Executive Director of the Foundation for Business Equity. The Foundation for Business Equity was created to help address the widening income and wealth gap in Greater Boston, experience most acutely by Black and Latinx communities.

Now producing up to 20,000 meals a day, the company has always maintained its roots in the local community. Ninety-five percent of City Fresh’s clients are in Boston, and the majority of its 150 employees are Boston residents, with many calling Roxbury and Dorchester their home.

Sheldon recently told the BLDC “Part of our next chapter is creating a model for employee ownership, creating equity and wealth, for those typically excluded from such opportunities that helped us build the company. A majority are of color and Boston residents and BLDC is part of the village that helped get us here by providing our first loan of the 27-year journey.”

The BLDC has always recognized that financing for minority owned businesses like City Fresh Foods has been both a struggle and a hindrance to growing wealth within Boston’s predominately Black and Brown neighborhoods. The BLDC is a 501(c)3 staffed by BPDA employees and has been lending to Boston’s small business community since 1982. The BLDC has always demonstrated a commitment to lending to these historically disinvested businesses. Sixty-three percent of existing privately owned BLDC Borrowers are Minority, Immigrant and/or Woman Owned Businesses. More specifically, twenty-five percent are Black Owned Businesses.

The BLDC is under the direction of a Board of Trustees. Seventy-five percent of the Board Members are women, immigrants, and/or representatives of minority groups. Sixty-three percent of the Board are members of minority groups. The composition of the BLDC Board has always helped to ensure that the choices the BLDC Staff makes when reaching out to disproportionately affected communities are informed and impactful.

Under the direction of this diverse Board of Trustees, the BLDC has historically demonstrated tremendous success in lending to a diverse community. While the charter of the BLDC describes its purpose as creating jobs for Boston’s residents, attention to supporting the expansion of the City’s minority owned business community has always been an important component of the BLDC program. For more information on the BLDC program, please go to our website at bostonbusinessloans.org/bldc. You can also follow us on LinkedIn at linkedin.com/company/bldc. We regularly provide updates on our program and any other information that might be helpful to Boston’s Small Businesses.


Brato Brewhouse + Kitchen teams up with Flour Bakery for Stout and Pastry Tasting Kit Night

After passage of the initial Federal CARES Act, the BLDC requested and received a grant of $693,000 from the Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA). The grant allowed the BLDC to create a new loan fund that provides financing to Boston businesses that are suffering from the severe economic disruption caused by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Brato Brewhouse + Kitchen, a current BLDC loan borrower, is one of the first Boston businesses to receive financing through this new fund. This additional financing will help Brato Brewhouse make it through the winter months. Brato Brewhouse is a brewery and restaurant with a full kitchen located on North Beacon Street in the city’s Allston neighborhood. Throughout the pandemic, Brato has been utilizing their ample outdoor and indoor space to follow social distance regulations and keep their customers and staff safe without sacrificing the quality of the dining experience. Brato's creativity and initiative has been a key to the restaurant’s continued success. Brato has created 25 jobs with a starting wage of at least $15 an hour. 11 of these positions are filled by Boston residents. The owners have established themselves as good corporate citizens who hope to continue fostering a healthy community while providing their patrons great food and beer.

Brato is teaming up with Flour Bakery to bring you a box of pastries to pair with their new stout, “Darkest Before Dawn”. Everyone will get a simple reheat and serve dinner, along with a box of four pastries from Flour to be able to pair with two growlers of stout. This special menu offering is an awesome example of both the owners’ creativity and the yummy food that they provide.

Learn more

BLDC-funded fitness studio Row House featured in Wall Street Journal

“We didn’t plan on being outdoors beyond Nov. 15, but people asked us to,” said Gyee O’Malley, co-owner of Boston’s Row House, a rowing-themed fitness studio. She and her staff roll 15 ERG machines and a stereo system to a patio on Lovejoy Wharf for each session. Classes have happened with the temperature as low as 28 degrees.

The studio moved some classes indoors when restrictions eased in the fall, but many members said they weren’t comfortable going back inside, she says. In mid-December, Boston banned indoor classes, and Ms. O’Malley reverted to an all-outdoors schedule. “My new motto is, ‘If you keep showing up, we’ll keep showing up,’ ” she says.

Winter fitness warriors have always powered through frigid weather. But to survive, gyms need to attract more than just the die-hards. They need to convince less enthusiastic customers, the casual exercisers who would happily stay home.

Full article at wsj.com

She is Sofie James

The BLDC gave Ginkgo Bioworks their first financing as a startup—a $150,000 loan. Today the organism company, which designs custom microbes for customers across multiple markets, is worth over $1 billion.

The company’s organism engineers work directly with customers including Fortune 500 companies and government entities to design microbes for their needs—applications including nutrition, health and consumer goods.


Marvelous Barber Lounge

The BLDC gave Ginkgo Bioworks their first financing as a startup—a $150,000 loan. Today the organism company, which designs custom microbes for customers across multiple markets, is worth over $1 billion.

The company’s organism engineers work directly with customers including Fortune 500 companies and government entities to design microbes for their needs—applications including nutrition, health and consumer goods.


Ginkgo Bioworks

The BLDC gave Ginkgo Bioworks their first financing as a startup—a $150,000 loan. Today the organism company, which designs custom microbes for customers across multiple markets, is worth over $1 billion.

The company’s organism engineers work directly with customers including Fortune 500 companies and government entities to design microbes for their needs—applications including nutrition, health and consumer goods.


New Financing Opportunity Available for Energy-Efficiency Projects at Boston Non-Profits

Please join us on Wednesday, December 9, 2020 at 3:30 PM ET for an information session.

As the coronavirus shutdown has threatened nonprofits’ funding, opportunities to find cost savings are more important than ever.  Simultaneously, Boston-based nonprofit institutions are striving to meet the City’s carbon neutrality goals. But installing energy-saving measures can require investments that many nonprofit institutions are unable to make.

The Boston Industrial Development Financing Authority (BIDFA) and GreenerU have partnered to offer a financing program that helps Boston nonprofits lower their energy bills and reach the City's greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets.

Learn more & register

Boston Local Development Corporation to join BECMA’s 2020 Massachusetts Black Expo to promote small business loans available

The Boston Local Development Corporation will participate in the Black Economic Council of New England (BECMA)’s 2020 Massachusetts Black Expo “Reimagining Black Wall Street” from Friday, November 13 to Sunday, November 15 to promote loans available to support small businesses in Boston.

The expo, which will be held virtually, is free and registration and more information can be found here: www.massblackexpo.com/blackwallstreet

The Boston Local Development Corporation (BLDC) works to increase employment opportunities for Boston residents by providing small business loans with a focus on commercial, industrial, and service companies. Over the last twenty years, the BLDC has provided over $20 million in small business loans. These loans have successfully leveraged over $95 million through collaborations with Boston’s banking community. The loan funds have helped to create or retain over 3,500 Boston jobs. There are two types of loans available:

  • The Standard BLDC Loan Fund is available for existing businesses, new ventures, and businesses relocating to the City of Boston. These loans range from $25,000 to $150,000.
  • The Backstreets Boston Back-up Loan Program provides financing for Boston companies in the industrial and manufacturing sectors. These loans differ from our standard program in that loan amounts can reach up to $250,000.

BLDC loans can be used to support the working capital needs of a growing small business, assist in the purchase of a new business property, fund construction of leasehold improvements, purchase new equipment and machinery, construct an addition to an existing plant, and provide for expanded inventories. The BLDC coordinates with Boston’s banking community to provide gap financing through subordinated debt.

In August, BLDC received a $693,000 CARES Act Recovery Assistance grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) to capitalize and administer a Revolving Loan Fund (RLF) to provide loans to coronavirus-impacted small businesses in Boston.

The BLDC is a private 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation governed by an independent board of trustees. The day to day operation of the program is provided by the Boston Planning & Development Agency’s Financial Services department.

Small businesses interested in learning more about BLDC and applying for a loan should visit bostonbusinessloans.org/bldc or email BLDC@Boston.gov.


Financing Strategies – How to Access Funds for your Business webinar Tuesday, 10/20

This webinar will be presented by Lisa Gonzalez Welch, Economic Development Specialist, Massachusetts District Office of the SBA along with a panel of funding experts from Accion, Abington Bank and the Boston Local Development Corporation. Learn about various types of funding including traditional bank loans, micro-financing and community development fund loans.

Register now

BLDC CARES grant featured on Boston's BNN News segment

Bill Nickerson, General Manager of the Boston Local Development Corporation, talks about a new revolving loan fund to help businesses make adjustments to recover from the pandemic. Interview for BNN News. Aired September 22, 2020.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E5ZUf8gS0bU