City Hall has established a $1 million loan fund to support innovation in Somerville. The Somerville Innovation Fund, whose launch was announced in a late-November press release, will provide loans of between $25,000 and $500,000 to businesses that “feature innovation in their purpose, operation, products or services, or other demonstrable aspect of their operation.” Any innovative business can apply, although preference will be given to “projects that create jobs, leverage other financing, and are located in designated economic opportunity areas.” Innovation fund loans come with three important stipulations: businesses receiving loans “must hire new employees within one year”; over half the jobs created must be for persons of low or moderate income; and businesses must make “a good faith effort to hire Somerville residents for all available job opportunities.”
The Fund is part of a long-term project, which Mayor Joseph Curtatone outlined in the Somerville Times in July, that aims to create 30,000 new jobs in Somerville by 2030. Mayor Curtatone’s Times missive came shortly after the City issued a $300,000 loan to Greentown Labs, a sustainability-oriented startup incubator, to help facilitate its move from Boston’s Fort Point neighborhood – the so-called “Innovation District” – to a larger and more affordable space in the former Ames Envelope factory (28 Dane St.) beside the Artisan’s Asylum and fellow newcomer Brooklyn Boulders. With Fort Point rents rising to prohibitive heights, Boston-area startups are on the lookout for cheaper places to set down roots, and the Somerville Innovation Fund will be a strong incentive for them to settle here.
Somerville is on the lookout for a new chief of police. Police Chief Thomas Pasquarello announced his resignation, effective December 1, in early November, citing family concerns. Captain Charles Femino, who has served on the police force for 29 years, will serve as acting police chief while the city conducts a search for a permanent replacement.
One of only two McDonald’s in the city, the (243 Elm St.) location, closed its doors in late October and the site has yet to announce what will be replacing the fast-food chain. The Somerville Journal subsequently reported that the owner of the building was entertaining inquiries from multiple businesses interested in the space, included potential ‘upscale’ tenants.
Just across the street, the city luckily dodged a nightmare on Elm Street when a large piece of structural molding came crashing down from the roof of the old Social Security Administration building at the corner of Chester Street. Meanwhile, debates over that same building’s future continue after proposals to put in a Beer Works location at 240 Elm St. stalled after meeting some public resistance. As of late November, the local chain had withdrawn its liquor license application, but said they remained interested in the site.
Caribbean eatery Some ‘Ting Nice (561 McGrath Highway) is open for business! Eater Boston reports that first-time restauranteur Susan Puckerin was inspired to found the restaurant because of a lack of satisfactory Caribbean food in the neighborhood. The space, which was unoccupied for a long time before Puckerin moved in, has undergone a lively renovation, including a bold-colored, fanciful island-scene mural that spans the interior wall. Puckerin told Eater that she is most excited about the seafood dishes and the jerk chicken, and advised customers not yet initiated into the joys and perils of Caribbean cuisine to begin with the mild dishes and then work their way up to the spicier ones. Some ‘Ting Nice does not have a liquor license but offers a number of exotic fresh juices and will be open for Sunday brunch.
The Winter Farmer’s Market has returned, and not a moment too soon! Every Saturday until the end of March, from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., Somervillians may trek up Spring Hill to the Center for Arts at the Armory (191 Highland Ave.) for an embarrassment of local food riches, including such perennial favorites as Fiore di Nonno, Spindler Confections, Culinary Cruisers and Green River Ambrosia.
Somerville’s newest studio space, The Green Room (62 Bow St.), is now open for business in a storefront previously occupied by a dry cleaners’. The brainchild of Union Square musicians Michael and Anney Barrett, the intimate 500-square-foot space features a PA system, a ceiling-mounted projector, a baby grand piano and free Wi-Fi, and is available for rent for the highly competitive price of $14 per hour for music lessons or $30 per hour for events . The Somerville Journal reports that the Green Room’s inaugural event was a recital by the Boston Composers’ Coalition, and that the first jazz concert in a (hopefully) ongoing series, aptly named “Jazz in the Green Room,” took place on November 23 and featured pianist Bert Seager and vocalist Rebecca Sullivan.