Transforming Union Square into an Employment Center
The most significant job growth happening in the US today is being fueled by the innovation economy. Greater Boston is a hotbed for innovation due to its academic and research institutions, investor community and dynamic and diverse cultural offerings. In the Greater Boston area, more than a third of office demand is being generated by innovation companies.
Somerville is poised to take advantage of these employment trends, to leverage the existing entrepreneurship and to evolve into an employment center for the innovation economy. The new connectivity offered by the Green Line will serve as a catalyst for job growth, but it must be supported by a clear economic growth strategy in order to create a mature and sustainable economic base over the longer term.
US2 has been actively implementing a strategy for achieving the community’s goal to transform Union Square into an employment center:
People: Attract Innovation Workers.
Workbar Union: US2 collaborated with Workbar to create Workbar Union in order to provide a local home for individuals, solopreneurs or small start-ups in Union Square, add jobs to Union Square and increase daytime activity. To learn more about how Workbar Union will provide a home for early-stage companies and entrepreneurs as they contribute to the expansion of Somerville's economy, click here!
Environment: Create a Vital Transit-Oriented Environment
Sponsor Local Institutions and Programs. US2 proudly participated in a number of the local programs, including sponsoring Fluff Festival, Holiday Stroll, All-American City Competition and the Argenziano School Community Card. In an effort to support the arts, US2 commissioned an art competition to design the wall mural in Workbar Union.
Union Lunch: Program the Square & Promote Local Business. US2 joined Union Square Main Streets in hosting Union Lunch, a ten-week summer lunch series in the plaza. The series featured over 20 local vendors and approximately 500 participants while generating approximately $5,000 in lunchtime revenue. Learn more about Union Lunch here.
Cluster: Link to Start-Up Companies & Evolve Innovation Culture
Innovation Speaker Series: Connect Innovators & Change-makers. Earlier this year, US2 announced a partnership with Greentown Labs, the nation’s largest cleantech incubator, on a speaker series to highlight Union Square’s future as an employment center. The events will be free to the public and feature leading local innovators and change-makers, sharing their insights about starting and growing a successful business.
Space: Develop a Continuum of Employment Spaces
Plan for a Range of Employment Spaces. As part of its master planning efforts, US2 is focused on creating a range of employment spaces that match the needs companies from a start-up to a larger corporation (e.g., Workbar Union). US2 is also collaborating with the owners of the Post Office to deliver a mix of commercial uses in the Post Office building as a leading project component. We look forward to discussing our employment spaces approach with the community in the coming months.
Opportunity: Leverage the Development to Create Jobs & Workforce Development Programs
Small Business Technical Assistance Program: Position Local Businesses to Grow. US2 partnered with Union Square Main Streets and the City of Somerville to launch a Small Business Technical Assistance Program to help storefront small businesses take advantage of the new opportunities that will be presented by the redevelopment and evolution of Union Square. The program provides advice from retail experts and a $1,000 grant to implement the recommendations.
Work with Local Contractors and Vendors. As part of its work effort, US2 has worked with over many Somerville-based businesses. In constructing Workbar Union, US2 hired local contractors. J.J. Vaccaro, Inc., a Union Square-based Union General Contractor along with other Somerville-based subcontractors including Bent Electric, Pavidis Plumbing, and New Color Painting Company, SRP Sign Corporation, Recover Green Roofs, and Crystal R. Burney, a local muralist.