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Somerville is creating its first diversity catalogue as a marketing tool for local businesses that are majority owned by immigrants, women, veterans, the disabled or members of the LGBT community.
“Somerville is a very diverse community,” said Daniela Carrillo, an economic development assistant and the project’s point person. “And it’s important to highlight minority- and women-owned businesses, since they display the beautiful mix of people and cultures that makes Somerville such a vibrant city.”
The catalogue, she said, will help these businesses raise their profile among residents and “offer their products and services to other businesses or institutions within the greater Boston area.”
Christina Ciampa, who owns the pop-up bookstore All She Wrote Books, is looking forward to greater exposure through the catalogue.
“There’s a camaraderie there [between diverse businesses], where you are all supporting each other and constantly helping each other, and I feel like that’s the part of the catalogue that I … definitely hope it achieves,” she said.
To be included in the diversity catalogue, Somerville derives its criteria from the state definition of a diverse business.
“It’s not just that they are labeled a certain thing,” said Ciampa. “It’s giving a spotlight to businesses that exist that maybe otherwise would have not been known … [and] it has a really big impact in elevating different types of businesses and different types of business owners.”
Carrillo hopes to collect 100 survey responses by the Sept. 13 deadline. In addition to promoting the survey online and through Instagram, her office plans to go door to door with the survey, which will be available in English, Spanish, Portuguese and Hatian Creole.
“Mayor [Joseph] Curtatone truly cares about supporting Somerville’s businesses, as well as the immigrant and minority communities, so we’re hoping everyone will participate,” Carrillo said.
Carrillo hopes to have the catalogue ready by late fall, to give the businesses a boost during the holiday shopping season. The catalogue will be available online.
Carrillo said the survey will do more than promote local business through the diversity catalogue; it will also provide information to the Office of Strategic Planning and Community Development’s Economic Development Department about other ways it can help.
“We want to be able to understand the true needs of these businesses,” she said. “We want to be able to create programs that are going to be specific for this community. We believe that with this catalogue, we are going to gather information to help us achieve that goal.”
Carrillo said the idea for the diversity catalogue came from her own immigrant roots.
“I would like to know and to understand our businesses, and as an immigrant, I understand that we need a little bit more help and guidance, and sometimes we don’t know where to go,” she said. “And I want to make sure that businesses know that the city cares, and that the city would like to be able to help as much as possible.”
Written by Elisa Sturkie, Communications Intern