Buying our building brings us one step closer to our original vision when we helped develop the former Pearl Meat Factory—create a hub for small diverse food companies to collaborate AND build an equitable food economy in Boston.
Owning our headquarters will have a dramatic long-term impact on CommonWealth Kitchen and the hundreds of businesses we support. It will:
CommonWealth Kitchen was created to provide affordable commercial kitchen space to low-and moderate-income women, immigrants, and people of color so they could launch and run their own businesses. We launched in a 4,000 square foot shared kitchen in Jamaica Plain but quickly outgrew the space.
In 2012 we entered into an agreement with Dorchester Bay Economic Development Corporation to help redevelop the vacant former Pearl Meat factory into a food production center, with CommonWealth Kitchen serving as the anchor tenant.
The project was a signature piece of the Quincy Corridor redevelopment, which was funded in large part through HUD’s CHOICE Neighborhoods program. The $20M HUD grant brought in an additional $100M+ in resources for affordable housing, economic development, and community organizing in Dorchester’s Grove Hall neighborhood. The focus of the project was on small business development in the food industry as a means of asset building and wealth creation and sustainable jobs.
With strong support from the City and federal government, the $15M project was completed in 2014. We moved from our facility in Jamaica Plain to the Pearl Building, tripling our footprint and increasing our average membership from 15 businesses a year to nearly 50.
Since moving into the building in 2014, CommonWealth Kitchen has grown from a modest shared-use kitchen, providing affordable rental for start-ups into an established and increasingly recognized leader in equitable food business development. We’ve grown from a team of 4 to 20+, with our budget increasing from $300k to over $3.5M/year.
With strong support from private philanthropy, individual donors, and city and state government, CommonWealth Kitchen is set to purchase the Bornstein and Pearl Food Production Center and maintain it as home for diverse food businesses in the City of Boston!
“Jen talked about leaving the city,” Dillon [Boston’s Department of Neighborhood Development] said. “That is something we did not want to happen. There have been so many successful businesses that have spent time in CommonWealth Kitchen and then moved on. It would have been a significant loss to the city.”
“Today is an awesome and auspicious day,” said Jen Faigel, executive director and co-founder of CommonWealth Kitchen. “After what has been truly one of the most difficult, grueling and exhausting 18 months of all of our lives, and certainly in my career, I’m thrilled to say we’re home.”