Freeze Frame Strategy Session - What Happened?

On Thursday, January 21, 2016, we held a Freeze Frame Strategy Session with over 80 people at Roxbury Community College Media Arts Center. From this session, we received feedback on our Next Steps, recommended action steps, people and organizations to partner with and recommendations for the board, advisory board and other areas.

Please note that we consider all Next Steps outlined on our website to be important and essential to advance the economic well-being of the Black community in Massachusetts. The Strategy Session was simply to help us prioritize our upcoming action steps.

This is a summary of the meeting and feedback.

 

What Happened?

The session began with a presentation that included some background on Freeze Frame and how the movement started with an attempt by a group of Black business and community leaders to participate in Olympics 2024 …to no avail. The group continued to conduct research on the Boston economy that indicated wide disparities in Black and White wealth, education, home ownership and almost every other measure. The data and some possible Next Steps were presented in Freeze Frame Black Boston 2015: Time for an Inclusive Economy to groups of business and community leaders and residents, culminating on November 4th at Prince Hall Grand Lodge, where close to 700, largely Black people came to let us know that we were on the right track.

The presentation then outlined the activities that have occurred since November 4th. Based on the feedback that was received from the community, the Next Steps were finalized and made public. The Black Economic Manifesto was created and published in the Bay State Banner, which indicated a goal of generating 5,000 jobs annually for Roxbury, Dorchester and Matapan ("RDM") in specific growth industries. In addition, the Black Economic Council of Massachusetts (BECMA) was formed to provide the organizational structure needed to advocate and achieve the Next Steps and goals. The creation of BECMA included a website (www.becma.org) where everyone can join, volunteer, donate, sign a petition and/or spread the word. The Board of Directors and Incorporators of BECMA were presented with a request for recommendations for additional board members. Lastly, the Inclusive Economy Independent Expenditure PAC (www.inclusiveeconomypac.org) is being finalized to support candidates who support a Black economic agenda.

After the presentation, participants were led through an exercise where 5 of the Next Steps were presented. Each table was asked to select 2-3 top priorities from the list of 5 and then asked for each priority “What 3 top action steps do you think we should take to move this priority forward?” “Who are the people and what are the organizations in our community that can help us move this priority forward? “How is this priority related to the broader goal of advancing the economic well-being of the Black community in Massachusetts?”

After 40 minutes of table discussion, several of the tables were asked to present their results. Each table explained their priorities and gave their thoughts on how the Next Steps could be achieved. Each of the tables also submitted “table notes” taken by volunteer note takers along with submissions from each participant on their interest in participating in BECMA and their recommendations of others who could help us move forward.

What Was the Feedback?

Based on a review of the table notes and submissions, the top priorities that were identified from the Strategy Session were:

The Governor/Mayor/City Council – Adopt a leadership policy position requiring Black Minority Business Enterprises ("MBE") equity inclusion for all large economic development projects receiving public funds or incentives for projects: 1) exceeding $50M outside RDM (i.e. downtown, etc.); and 2) $10M inside RDM. (Implement best practices)

CDCs operating in RDM and other urban centers – Abide by MA General Law, Chapter 40H, which requires their sole purpose to be to create economic opportunities for low to moderate income people, by engaging Black residents and Black businesses.

The next highly recommended priority was the following:

The Governor/Mayor/City Council – Unbundle Capital Plan projects and other vendor contracts as necessary to allow participation of Black businesses (Implement best practices)

 

The recommended action steps to achieve the Next Step for MBE Equity Inclusion included the following:

  • Push for an executive order
  • BECMA needs to know the laws:  for example there are federal laws currently on the books with language of inclusion that should already be practiced
  • Create an accountability mechanism for elected officials
  • Engage prime, large contractors to buy in to Black MBE equity inclusion
  • Do some research to determine where contracts are currently going
  • Identify major project(s), know what to ask for, make sure we get a piece of the pie, know our value and importance
  • Controlling our land

 

The recommended action steps to achieve the Next Step for CDC adherence to MA General Law included the following:

  • Conduct full research report on what CDC’s are actually doing in Boston/Massachusetts
  • Acknowledge that the ultimate goal of the CDC’s is for them to put themselves out of business: deconstruct, sunset their economic functions which become absorbed by community owned and operated businesses
  • CDCs required to provide equity stake in a project (ownership vs rental)
  • Require greater transparency (Black business vs MBE business contracts and employees)
  • Apply pressure on CDCs, money rules, you have to at least interview a Black developer, contractor, etc.
  • Need an organized effort to make this happen; (BEMCA) is that force
  • Do site visits

 

The recommended action steps to achieve the Next Step for Unbundling Capital Plans included the following:

  • Push for an executive order
  • BECMA needs to know the laws:  for example there are federal laws currently on the books with language of inclusion that should already be practiced
  • Create an accountability mechanism for elected officials
  • Require projects list be distributed to Black businesses for development projects
  • Unbundled Capital Plans need to be tiered so that different sized businesses could participate
  • BECMA could fill the gap between resources available (capital, technical assistance) and the Black business community taking advantage of those resources
  • Break grants down to the components that make up a total project
  • Finance/support cooperatives
  • Finance minority entrepreneurship in development; when you get a certain net worth you graduate from the program
  • Compliance and not being up to code has to be brought up.  We must keep people on top of this process. 

 

The two other Next Steps that were identified as the third priority areas were:

The Governor/Mayor/City Council – Work together to create Economic Opportunity Inclusion Zones which incentivizes Black/Latino business and employment goals at a level commensurate with the population. Said incentives may include, but are not limited to, tax credits, grants, loans, enhanced employment credits for marginalized and /CORI residents, expedited permitting and credit enhancements that emphasize business ownership, cooperative and profit sharing business ownership and encourages innovative solutions.

The Governor/Mayor/City Council – Improve the oversight, compliance and monitoring of all entities (public and private) to ensure they are fulfilling their MBE legal requirements for contracting/workforce including accurately reporting their contracting with Black businesses and employment of Black residents.

We also received a lot of feedback on people and organizations to work with to achieve these Next Steps and the need to involve more people in the planning and implementation process.

We want to thank everyone who participated. Your input was very helpful. We also want to thank Professor James Jennings, Tuft University, for facilitating this event and the BECMA members/volunteers who served as note takers.

It was a very informative and productive session. We will continue to seek feedback from the community. Please feel free to provide your input through our email at info@becma.org.

To support our efforts, volunteer and/or spread the word. And remember to have a “seat at the table” join or sponsor BECMA at www.becma.org today!

More to come…