Walsh’s latest idea: ‘Neighborhood Innovation districts’

Is Dudley about to become the next Kendall Square?

It’s possible if the newly-created Neighborhood Innovation District Committee does its job.

To better encourage the development of centers of innovation across the city and in specific neighborhoods, Mayor Martin Walsh has unveiled a new committee charged with expanding innovation and entrepreneurship, his office announced last week.

The Neighborhood Innovation District Committee met in a public meeting for the first time on Wednesday night and will meet at least three to four times before the end of the year.

“As we seek to foster and support economic development in Boston, it is essential for us to establish an environment that supports entrepreneurship and job creation throughout all corners of our city,” Walsh said in a statement. “Innovation knows no boundaries, and our policies, infrastructure, and programs should reflect that.”

The innovation district committee differs from the city’s Main Streets districts program already in place.
“The Neighborhood Innovation District Committee will be focused on encouraging and fostering innovation and entrepreneurship, while the Main Streets districts are focused on supporting commercial business districts,” said Gabrielle Farrell, city of Boston spokesperson.

No specific innovation districts have been selected yet, Farrell said. The committee as a whole will create a recommendation for a pilot district and a specific neighborhood subcommittee will set out to determine the specific location. The committee has not established how future innovation districts are yet to be established.

The committee is composed of 27 local leaders and experts and from across the city appointed by the mayor’s office. Those already appointed include State Sen. Sonia Chang Diaz, media and political strategist Joyce Ferriabough-Bolling, University of Massachusetts Chancellor Keith Motley, At-Large City Councillor Michelle Wu, and MassDOT Secretary Richard Davey. John Barros, Boston’s Chief of Economic Development and Edward Glaeser, Harvard University economics professor and Rappaport Institute Director co-chair the committee.

The committee will also review and make suggestions for a citywide inclusive economic agenda on innovation, the mayor’s office said.

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