Commonwealth Kitchen serves up opportunities

W. Marc Bernsau © Boston Business Journal

The Boston Business Journal gives greatly deserved recognition to Jen Faigel and the organization she co-founded, Commonwealth Kitchen—a nonprofit kitchen in Dorchester which incubates more than 50 community-based businesses. The BLDC is proud of its collaborations with Commonwealth Kitchen—at the last Board of Trustees meeting, our Board approved financing to help one of Commonwealth's client businesses make the next step into their own kitchen commissary space.

BLDC highlighted in CNBC article

CNBC features Boston as one of the seven best cities for start ups, noting the role of BLDC funding in the success of Gingko Bioworks.

Goldman Sachs raises $37 million for BLDC startup Cogito Corp

The Boston Business Journal reports that Goldman Sachs has raised $37 million for Cogito Corporation. When this Boston software company was founded, it received $150,000 in initial funding from the BLDC. The company now employs 110 people.

Gingko Bioworks on biosecurity

by Jason Kelly, Founder of Gingko Bioworks

Our mission is to make biology easier to engineer—that hasn’t changed for the ten years we’ve been building Ginkgo. The ability to read, write, and design DNA code is having profound positive impacts in medicine, agriculture, and manufacturing, from engineered cell therapies that can target a person’s cancer cells, to probiotics for plants that can reduce the need for nitrogen fertilizers, to sustainably grown materials.

We are working to unlock the enormous power of biology: its ability to grow sustainably, to process information, and adapt to changing environments. But we’re not naive to the potential risks. We understand that as it becomes easier to engineer biology, it will become easier to engineer the part of biology that’s dangerous to humans, animals, and plants—the pathogens and parasites that can infect us. Since researchers synthesized the polio virus in 2002, it has been technically possible to chemically synthesize viruses that infect humans.

To date, the work done on synthesizing viruses has been intended for medical research and other peaceful purposes, but there is a concern that someone could theoretically produce a virus or other pathogen with the intent to harm. The intentional use of pathogens to harm others is abhorrent and something that I believe that we should never do under any circumstances—as a company and as human beings. The international community agrees with me on this: 180 countries including the United States are parties to the UN Biological Weapons Convention, which was first signed in 1972 and states that we are “never in any circumstance to develop, produce, stockpile, or otherwise acquire or retain: Microbial or other biological agents, or toxins…that have no justification for prophylactic, protective or other peaceful purposes.”

As the technology for synthesizing DNA code improves, groups from governments, industry, academia, and civil society have been developing frameworks for monitoring and assessing the safety and security of these new technologies. For example, we are a part of the international gene synthesis consortium, which developed standards for screening orders made to DNA synthesis companies. Our Head of Design, Patrick Boyle, was also recently on a panel convened by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine to assess the risks of intentional misuse of synthetic biology.

Today we’re announcing Ginkgo’s biosecurity initiative that directly addresses some of these potential threats from engineered DNA sequences. Our current work on biosecurity focuses primarily on detecting potential threats using software that analyzes DNA sequences.

Register now for the South End/Lower Roxbury Business & Financing Workshop

Tuesday, May 8, 2018 from 8:30 AM – 10:00 AM at the AC Hotel
Come network with small businesses in the South End and learn about how to grow your business with SPARK by Capital One, as well as financing opportunities, grants, store improvements and technical assistance from the City of Boston's Main Street and ReStore program, the Boston Local Development Corporation, and other sources.

Guest Speakers

  • Liza Quiñonez, Acting Director, Washington Gateway Main Street
  • SPARK Program by Capital One
  • Bill Nickerson, Senior Finance Manager, Boston Planning & Development Agency
  • Steve Rumpler, Business & Design Services Manager, Mayor's Office of Economic Development
  • Karleen Porcena, Program Officer, Economic Opportunity, Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC)
  • Paul Ricchi, Senior Loan Officer, Massachusetts Growth Capital Corporation

Register here.

BLDC funded salon holds grand opening in South Boston

The Boston Local Development Corporation (BLDC), East Boston Savings Bank and the Massachusetts Small Business Association (SBA) partnered to provide funding for a new start up salon, Love and Mercy, located in South Boston, which opened its doors at a grand opening on Tuesday, April 17, 2018The salon is located on the ground floor of the new Aloft Hotel on D Street.

Patty Martin, the salon founder, has more than a decade of experience in the hair and beauty industry. In opening Love and Mercy, Martin’s goal is to ensure that the salon provides a trusted destination where clients will receive the highest quality hair services with superior customer service. 

The BLDC works to increase employment opportunities for Boston residents by providing small business loans with a focus on commercial, industrial and service companies. The BLDC is a private 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 (BPDA).

The salon’s grand opening also marks a milestone for the BLDC. Over the past year, the BLDC has closed over $800,000 in new loans for businesses that are either owned or co-owned by women entrepreneurs.

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.

Melnea Hotel and Residences

In December 2016,  BIDFA, as conduit issuer of an Enterprise Zone (EZ) Facility Bond, closed on $21.5 million in financing to construct Roxbury’s new Melnea Hotel. The total development cost is $38 million. Additional funding was provided by New Market Tax Credits, a MassWorks grant, and developer equity. Construction of the new hotel is slated for completion on —-.

This 135 room Residence Inn by Marriott will be located at the corner of Melnea Cass Boulevard and Washington St.  Colwen Management, an award-winning hotel developer and operator and Urbanica, Inc., a transformative development company with extensive local development experience have partnered to build the hotel.

BIDFA, as a conduit bond issuer qualified this project for Tax-Exempt financing as an Enterprise Zone Facility Bond. Cambridge Savings Bank is the bond purchaser. In these transactions, the tax exempt treatment means that the bond revenue is tax-exempt revenue for the purchaser. The purchaser then passes along a lower interest rate to the borrower. As happened in this case, the lower interest rate facilitates a project that otherwise wouldn’t cash flow, and couldn’t be built. This tax exemption refers to federal and state taxes. City of Boston tax revenue is in no way impacted. Additionally, the credit of the borrower, and not that of the City of Boston, BIDFA, or the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, is pledged to repay the bonds.

To qualify for an EZ Bond, the borrower must guarantee that 35% of all permanent jobs created by the project must be Boston residents from Boston census tracts that have a poverty rate of at least 20%, and/or a census tract where the median family income does not exceed 80% of the Boston-Cambridge-Newton Metropolitan area.

This project will bring important change to the Dudley Square neighborhood and will generate significant jobs and benefits for local residents. To facilitate this local job creation, the Developers are contributing $400,000 to a job training fund to be administered by the Mayor’s Office of Workforce Development. They will also provide on-site job training. The hotel is still under construction, but the projected long term job creation goal calls for 48 permanent positions. These jobs will pay a minimum of $18 per hour, well above the industry average.

Outreach for construction site jobs has been outstanding. As of March 2018 there have been 266 persons employed on the site. Of those 65.9% are minorities, 11.3% females and 53% of all workers are Boston residents. This exceeds the Boston Jobs Policy targets of 25% minority, 10% female and 50% Boston residents.

East Boston Neighborhood Community Health Center

East Boston Neighborhood Community Health Center (EBNHC) was issued a $11.2 million tax-exempt 501(c)(3) bond through BIDFA.

  • The clinic provides over 300,000 patient-visits per year, serving the diverse and low-income population of East Boston, Winthrop, Revere, and Chelsea.
  • EBNHC’s patient roster grew annually by several thousand patients.
  • Despite having twelve buildings totaling almost 260,000 square feet, EBNHC reached capacity as a result of this growing demand, and the organization invested in this new facility to better serve its patients.
  • The bond issuance provided the funds for the construction of a new clinical/office building containing approximately 48,000 square feet of gross floor area on four levels.  The project includes facilities for clinical, office, and administration and contains related retail space at the ground level.

Boston Renaissance Charter Public School

Boston Renaissance Charter Public School was issued a $16.6 million tax-exempt 501(c)(3) bond through BIDFA.

  • The bond issuance allowed for the construction of a new campus in Boston’s Hyde Park neighborhood suited to the school’s specific educational needs.
  • The 107,000 square foot, state-of-the-art facility provided an exceptional learning environment for more than 800 Boston children, and employs approximately 176 teachers and administrative staff.