About the Economic Development Division

Somerville is known as a city of makers, where the elements of creativity combined with the know-how of an industrial past generates a culture of invention like no other.

We are committed to fostering the growth of a resilient economic base, creating good jobs, supporting strategic workforce development, and securing fiscal self-sufficiency for the City. Economic Development provides assistance to existing and emerging businesses, implements workforce development initiatives, and supports the redevelopment and enhancement of specific areas through infrastructure improvements and Brownfield cleanup projects. We actively develop areas in the City to promote the growth of industry clusters and innovation.

Venn diagram shows overlap of workforce development, real estate development, and business development

  • Our Directives

  • Somerville SiteFinder

  • Workforce Development

  • Real Estate Development

  • Business Development

  • Opportunity Zones

Workforce Development

The Economic Development Division implements initiatives related to Workforce and Talent Development, including specific programs like BuildCorps, policies like the jobs linkage fee, and strategic work like the Workforce Development Strategic Plan.

Real Estate Development

Brownfields are a specialty for the Economic Development Division. We help property owners turn their vision into reality on polluted sites through targeted financial support.

Business Development

The Economic Development Division provides numerous resources to different kinds of Somerville-based businesses. These include Assistance for Businesses–namely, Small Business Support program, and technical assistance events–as well as targeted support for businesses working in the Innovation Economy.

Anyone doing business in Somerville will work with a variety of City departments, but we try to make the process as streamlined and easy-to-understand as possible. For more information about doing business in the City, click here.

Somerville SiteFinder: Find a Place to Grow Your Business

 

Our goals are to make Somerville a regional employment center with a mix of diverse and high-quality jobs, support a business-friendly environment to attract and retain a diverse mix of businesses, and invest in the talents, skills, and education of people to support growth and provide opportunities to residents of all social and economic levels.

The Office of Strategic Planning & Community Development works to ensure that new development in Somerville works to achieve the goals set in SomerVision. These goals include the creation of 30,000 new jobs, 6,000 new housing units, 125 acres of publicly accessible open space, and other goals related to transportation, development, and preserving neighborhood character. Real estate development is one important tool for achieving these goals.

View of the 67-acre abandoned industrial zone, or brownfield, before Assembly Square development.

This program helps property owners minimize the uncertainties of contamination often associated with underutilized properties known as brownfields.

Sign reads 'Open'

Whether you're just getting started, looking to expand your business, improve its appearance, or simply get advice on best practice

Storefront for Daddy Jones' Bar in Magoun Sq., Somerville

The Economic Development Department works with businesses of all sizes and types to support their growth and success in Somerville.

In Somerville, we like to say that while others have innovation districts, we are the Innovation City. That innovation is backed by know-how and...

Cannabis plant

The Somerville City Council has adopted two key items of legislation regarding adult marijuana.

About Opportunity Zones

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 established Opportunity Zones, is an Economic Development tool with the goal to promote growth and vitality in low-income communities through a federally-funded tax incentive.

Created in 2017, Opportunity Zones are designed for communities that would like to reinvigorate designated geographic areas as a mechanism to provide tax incentives for investment. Investments made by individuals through special funds in these zones would be allowed to defer or eliminate federal taxes on capital gains through a privately Opportunity Fund.

Opportunity Funds

  1. Temporary Deferral: Investors may defer capital gains on income reinvested into Opportunity Funds. The deferred gain must be recognized when the investor exits the fund, or on Dec. 31, 2026, whichever comes earlier.
  2. Step-Up in Basis: If the investor remains within an Opportunity Fund for at least 5 years, their tax liabilities related to the original capital gains are reduced by 10 percent. If the investment is held in the Opportunity Fund for 7 years, this increases by an additional 5 percent, meaning that investors can reduce capital gains liability by 15 percent total.
  3. Permanent Exclusion of Fund Gains:If an investor keeps their investment in an Opportunity Fund for 10 years, any gains from the Opportunity Fund are exempt from taxation.

For more information, these are the full details of the regulation.

Opportunity Zones in Somerville

Somerville is committed to making our community an even greater place to live, work, play, raise a family, and grow old. These values and goals are articulated in SomerVision, a community master plan where residents articulated a comprehensive vision for job creation, housing, open space, transit, environmental stewardship, equity, and education. Key goals include:

  • The creation of 30,000 new jobs
  • The construction of 6,000 housing units
  • 125 new acres of publically accessible open space
  • 50% of new trips via transit, bike or walking; and
  • 85% of new development in Transformative Areas (Transformational Areas are largely contained within Somerville’s Opportunity Zones)

Designated Areas in Somerville

The City of Somerville has two designated Census Tract areas:

Census Tract 25017350103 Assembly Square, Ten Hills

Census Track 25017350103 Assembly Square, Ten Hills

Census Tract 25017351500 Innerbelt North, Innerbelt South, Brickbottom, Boynton Yards

Census Track 25017351500 Innerbelt North, Innerbelt South, Brickbottom, Boynton Yards