Letter To The Editor: Accomplishments, Priorities Of Belmont’s Economic Development Committee

Photo: Small business revival in Belmont Center is a priority of Belmont’s Economic Development Committee

To the editor:

As Co-Chair of Belmont’s Economic Development Committee alongside Katherine Venzke, I am pleased to share a brief overview of our accomplishments this past year with the greater Belmont community. 

2022-23 Accomplishments

Over this past year, I am proud to report that the EDC has made an important contribution. 

Last spring and summer, the EDC implemented a $25,000 Wayfinding and Branding Design grant through a dedicated working group and critical community input most notably by third-generation Belmontian and Town Meeting Member Allison Lenk and Boston-based design studio Favermann Designs. Our process resulted in the Select Board approving the Belmont Gardenia flower design. Mark Favermann – who has worked with 40-plus committees on branding and wayfinding design – described our process as “one of the best examples that really connects to the community and the town’s history in a very natural and authentic way.” The EDC remains fully committed to implementing the design on the Trapelo Corridor and eventually across all of Belmont.  

Second, through a designated state surplus appropriation of $100,000, the EDC successfully designed and advocated a Belmont Small Business Grant program to the Select Board. Ten businesses were eventually awarded $10,000 by our state representatives, state Sen. Will Brownsberger, state Rep. Dave Rogers, the Select Board, Venzke, and myself.  

Third, the EDC has also worked to improve communication and networking among local business leaders. We hosted a small business networking event last fall and will do another in the next month or two. We increased our committee membership from seven to nine and have also worked diligently with other town committees, boards, and Belmont residents to bring the voice of economic development across various town initiatives.  

2023-24 Committee Priorities

However, we understand there remains much to do over this next year and beyond. While empty storefronts are being filled by remarkably persistent and talented local business owners, including Café Vanak on Belmont Road, rated as one of the world’s best restaurants by Condé Nast Traveler, Belmont can and must make the permitting process for local restaurants and businesses easier. We want a vibrant Leonard Street increased business at Cushing Square, and increased mixed-use development at Waverly Square. 

We are also committed to serving residents as a sounding board for ideas and suggestions. As the Collins Center Report and the recent Belmont budget summits clearly show, the town would benefit from a more robust commercial tax base over the medium and long term. Working professionals are spending more time in home offices than in pre-2020 due to the rise of hybrid work. This increases Belmont’s daytime population and local business opportunities across our three key commercial centers: Belmont Center, Cushing Square, and Wavery Square.  

In conclusion, I would like to reiterate that the EDC has made significant contributions to the Belmont community this past year. Looking ahead, the Committee is committed to making the permitting process for local restaurants and businesses easier, increasing small business formation, and serving as a sounding board for ideas and suggestions from the community. We believe that a more robust commercial tax base is crucial for Belmont’s medium and long-term growth, and we will continue to work toward this goal.  

Paul Joy

Co-Chair, Economic Development Committee