Now is the time to double down to help our small businesses succeed all year long

Mayor Walsh and friends joined in the annual Dorchester Trolley Tour during a stop at St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta parish on Columbia Road on Nov. 25. Mayor’s Office Photo by Jeremiah Robinson

I grew up in a neighborhood of hardworking families, where everything seemed within reach, thanks in large part to our incredible small and local businesses. For years, these local landmarks have carried on the traditions of my neighborhood, and generated the prosperity that’s helping Dorchester thrive to this day.

I know my experience was not unique. Small businesses are the lifeblood of all Boston’s neighborhoods. They hire locally; they reflect our rich diversity of cultures and languages; and they care deeply about being good neighbors. Boston’s 40,000 small businesses are also vital to our economy because they account for more than a third of business revenue, and nearly half of all private-sector employment. They are economic and cultural resources that keep Boston running strong.

Boston’s local entrepreneurs work hard every day of the year, but the holiday season is especially important to them. Often times, it accounts for as much as 40 percent of their yearly sales. That’s why my team and I are committed to making sure the holidays are a time when local businesses can truly shine.

This holiday season, we’re doubling down on our efforts to help all of these businesses have their best holiday season yet.

• We’re introducing a shuttle that allows people to do their shopping while Main Street hopping. The Main Streets Explorer is a free shuttle that will circulate between the Roslindale Village, West Roxbury, and Hyde Park Main Street Districts, making it easier to explore more great businesses and great neighborhoods. This new pilot program will operate on Thursday evenings this December. Learn more at boston.gov/Explorer.

• The Boston Main Streets Foundation is rolling out a one-stop online portal for local shopping options. A brand new website – BostonMainStreets.org – contains all the information you need about Boston’s 20 Main Street Districts. It has great district-specific information like business directories, maps, and upcoming events.

I’m challenging everyone to participate in the Mayor’s LetsAllShopSmall Campaign, and to make their lists, check them twice, and then head to their local Main Street District to cross off their items one by one. The goal is to purchase items, dine out, or attend events at small and local businesses, snap photos, and then post them to social media with the hashtag #LetsAllShopSmall. It’s a great way to support local businesses, explore your community in a new way… and maybe even get your shopping done early this year!

These initiatives are in addition to the work already under way, including a Small Business Center where residents can learn the skills that will help them start, maintain, and grow their business; capital loans that are within reach for entrepreneurs; a Business Capital and Finance Unit to expand access to loans; on-site technical assistance; and more.

We know that while their operations may be small, small businesses play a big role in keeping communities strong over many generations. I thought back to the holidays when I was growing up. Local businesses would decorate their storefronts, donate to local fundraisers, and have sales where kids like me could afford to get something nice for our loved ones.

I’m proud that now I’m able to help them thrive all year long. I can’t think of a better return on investment than that.

For more information on how you can support your local Main Street District, please visit BostonMainStreets.org.