Omar Miranda is no stranger to City Hall having worked in the Leisure Department for almost five years.
But on Halloween, Miranda took on a new role in town as a small business development specialist. Funded through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), the position is a one-stop shop for Chelsea’s small businesses to complete paperwork, issue permits and grant opportunities available across the city, state and beyond .
“The city was trying to address one of their main concerns, which was that there was no one-stop shop for small businesses to go to, they had to go to every single department,” Miranda said.
Miranda said he served as someone business people could talk to and that he could advocate for the companies.
Some of the areas in which Miranda can assist businesses include technical support assistance, storefront improvements, and conveyor assistants.
Miranda said one of the biggest parts of his new job is going into the community and seeing what needs are there.
“We have many plans to support childcare workers,” Miranda said. “A lot of people work from home, so we do site visits and see what their needs are so when we develop programs, we know what they really need.”
Another major initiative the city has for the business community is the creation of incubator programs and spaces where small businesses can start and thrive.
Miranda highlighted Chelsea’s partnership with private developers to build affordable housing and retail space in the former Salvation Army building at 444 Broadway.
“We are excited about this project,” said Miranda. “It looks like small businesses may not need full space in the future and may be able to share locations.”
Miranda is a Puerto Rican with a background in music and entertainment travel management.
As a Spanish speaker, Miranda said he felt he could make it easier for more people to navigate the paperwork and bureaucracy at City Hall. His background in music and in the leisure department also makes it easy for him to go out into the community and meet with people where they live and work, from the Broadway business corridor to all parts of Chelsea.
One of the biggest concerns Miranda has heard during his time at work is rising energy and utility costs, and Miranda said he has been trying to steer companies towards programs and grants that could help with those energy costs.
Miranda said many business owners have expressed gratitude for the city’s ability to provide assistance over the past several years.
“There’s also a lot of business opportunity for facade or storefront improvements,” he said. “A lot of people have taken over businesses that have closed and want to improve the businesses.”
Another major concern in the small business community is opening restaurants up to the potential for post-Covid al fresco dining while ensuring there isn’t a significant loss of parking.
“I think the city is rethinking how to make (alfresco dining) a normal thing without taking away parking spaces and keeping it safe,” Miranda said.
Miranda encouraged anyone who needs help from the city for their small business to call or email him at (617) 466-4198 [email protected]