Nominees sought for city’s Legacy Business awards; deadline is Friday

Aliesha Porcena, Mayor Wu and Allan Edwards, proprietor of Allan’s Formal Wear on Blue Hill Avenue in Dorchester, which was selected in the first round of Legacy Business awards last year. The full list of 2023 winners is shown on this panel from an event held at Faneuil Hall. Mayor’s Office photo

The deadline to nominate a local small business for the city’s Legacy Business Program has been extended to this Friday (Feb. 23). This is the second year that the mayor’s Office of Economic Opportunity and Inclusion (OEOI)is hosting the program, which is intended to highlight enterprises with deep roots in the communities they serve.

To be eligible, a business must have operated for at least ten years in the city and contributed “to the cultural, historical, and societal asset of Boston’s community or neighborhood.” If chosen, the city will provide “targeted technical assistance,” primarily focused on succession planning and employee ownership, as well as a portion of the $1 million Legacy Business Support Grant funded by the OEOI. Legacy Businesses also receive a plaque, a badge, and a photo opportunity with their city councillors.

Aliesha Porcena, the Director of Small Business for the city, said this program was inspired by the damage the pandemic wrought upon the small business community in Boston.

“The businesses that were closing held a special place in a lot of people’s hearts,” Porcena said. “We thought, what could we have done to prevent this? How could we stop these iconic businesses that have given so much to their communities from closing? That’s really where the idea for this program came from.”

They city received more than 1,400 nominations from residents. This year, she said, they have reached around 1,000.

“These are businesses that have always been there to support you,” said Porcena. “They’re the ones to sponsor little leagues, to cater neighborhood events, they’re where people go after school to hang out.”

“Often,” Porcena said, “these are places that aren’t acknowledged as they should be. This program wants to finally change that.”

Five Dorchester businesses won the inaugural award last year: Allan’s Formal Wear on Blue Hill Ave., DJ’s European Market and Deli on Boston St., Hicks Auto Body on Talbot Ave., Pho Hoa on Dorchester Ave., and Chez-Vous Rollerskating Rink on Rhoades St.

Derick Foster-Toney, part owner of Chez-Vous, told the Reporter that after being closed for two full years due to the pandemic, receiving the title of “Legacy Business” in 2023 was a meaningful gesture from the city that showed its support and dedication.

“It’s scary how legendary places can just disappear, particularly in this area,” he said. “The neighborhood can change overnight. So, we were very grateful to receive this award that has helped us slightly recover and keep going.”

Foster-Toney said he hopes other small businesses can seize the opportunity to expand, rebrand if needed, and stay on track for success if they were also chosen for the award.

“It’s always been few and far between for small businesses in this area to have these kinds of opportunities,” he said. “I hope this is just the start of what can be for Boston and they can keep the momentum going.”

If you would like to nominate your favorite local business, click here.


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