Ben Sommer
Economic Development Specialist


(617) 625-6600  ext 2513


[email protected]


93 Highland Ave
Somerville, 02143

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Workforce and Talent Development

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.

  • Quality Jobs

  • Talent Equity Playbook

  • Jobs Linkage

  • Skill Building

Quality jobs improve employee performance, and thus company performance, through a series of management choices that empower and value employees.

As outlined in the Talent Equity Playbook, the City has identified Quality Jobs Practices that will help position Somerville as a national leader in providing quality jobs. They are:

  1. Predictive Scheduling - finding ways to allow company and employees to build schedules that enable employee planning and set upfront expectations for work
  2. Cross-training - Enabling employees to be familiar with full scope of products, stay busy with multiple company roles, and understand their personal contribution to company performance
  3. De-standardizing Tasks - Promoting opportunities for employees to participate in continuous improvement tasks to improve customer experience and service
  4. Supervisory Training - Working with supervisors to support career choices and training among front-line employees
  5. Retention Services - Deploying employee assistance programs that help navigate workplace conflict, address employee health and wellness, and offer child care, transportation and financial literacy solutions that get in the way of employee retention
  6. Skills and Benefits - Finding creative ways to promote employee access to and participation in credential attainment (tuition assistance, workplace sponsored learning) and benefits that build employee security (living wage, healthcare, family leave)

One way we have recognized employers that provide quality jobs is through our 2017 Best Places to Work Award. We are pleased to announce that six businesses were nominated as quality employers.

2017 Best Places to Work Award: The Nominees

1) Somerville Cambridge Elder Services

Since 1972, Somerville Cambridge Elder Services has been guided by its mission statement to "[promote] the right of all individuals to live with dignity, in the setting of their choice by offering older people, younger people with disabilities, and caregivers the information, services, and support needed to make choices which enhance health, well-being and independence."  

I spoke with SCES's Nathan Lamb, Director of Outreach and Community Relations, about how the agency follows through with its mission as well as what it's like to work for a company that does such important work. Nathan emphasized that innovation has been a large factor in the agency's ability to consistently provide quality service and to continuously find and fill aid gaps in the community. He cites Music & Memory, a program that helps dementia patients by using music as a form of therapy, providing playlists to trigger memory and improve quality of life. The SCES received Music & Memory accreditation in 2016 after securing a grant to launch the program. They bring the program directly to people in their own homes and train the family on how to use it, which is a much different method compared to other state organizations.  

Nathan has worked for Somerville Cambridge Elder Services for just over two years and really loves how important and meaningful the mission is to not only him, but to the rest of the staff as well. A recent internal survey of SCES employees found that there is an almost unanimous agreement that the work the center does is meaningful. It was also interesting to note that the survey had high turnout and an overall employee high satisfaction percentage. Nathan expressed how important these findings were, since it meant that collaborative initiatives within the company are working. Bimonthly staff meetings, an employee of the month and a monthly newsletter are a few examples of how SCES tries to foster this collaboration.  

Another SCES staff member is Margarida Mendonca, the Community Relations Support Specialist for Somerville Cambridge Elder Services, who has been working for the agency since 1982, and can't stress enough how the business has supported her through the years. The ability to work from home and have flexible hours has allowed her to have a successful work-life balance. Margarida believes in the work that the SCES does, especially since the organization is always changing and growing, improving their programs and creating new ones that fill gaps in current community services. She jokes that she "needs to change [her] job description regularly." Margarida finds this an important aspect of her goal to improve and make services better.  

Somerville Cambridge Elder Services is located at 61 Medford Street in Somerville. Call them at 617-628-2601 for more information.

2) Somerville Media Center

Every time I walk into the Somerville Media Center, I'm greeted by the sound of people laughing, talking, working and goofing around with friends. After more than thirty-five years of serving local residents, the SMC definitely has the accessible and inclusive vibe of a popular community center. Erica Jones, the Director of Membership and Outreach, tends to be one of first staff I see as I walk in. She has been with the organization for five and a half years, so she knows the ins and outs of all things SMC.  

I asked Erica if she feels valued and fulfilled as a staff member of the organization. She says "I feel very fulfilled as an SMC employee, but I am a Leo and am always up for more challenges." Erica believes that "finding value, stability and growth in your work is also a constant effort and it is important to stay present and engaged in order to execute your work mindfully and thoughtfully." The SMC is a perfect place to foster personal growth and community engagement. Just look at their mission, which identifies the SMC as an "electronic media maker-space that exists to foster creativity, innovation and community expression."   

Because of this, the Center is very inclusive and open to new ideas and input, so it's no wonder that Erica says that "the SMC work environment is 100% collaborative." She stresses that her job wouldn't be what is it without the support and guidance from her peers. Collaboration seems to be one of the foundations of the center since it's part of everything that happens and all output that is created. It can happen anytime and anywhere, as this one account of Erica's favorite memories goes to show: "...early on in my career here when I would work late evenings...One member in particular, Susan Allen (a longtime Dead Air Live producer) came by and she is quite the character! ...We had an impromptu dance party and she just broke out into dance to some indie rock song I played for her and I recorded the heart of what we do here is so much more than making media, it is providing a safe and welcoming space for people to be themselves. We encourage this, embrace it and support individuality. We also foster collaboration but allow people to be free and explorative...We are a community center through and through."  

For my last question, I asked Erica why people should utilize the SMC. She said that the "Somerville Media Center is a great space for community building, exploring new skills, connecting with other like-minded people and to be part of a cooperative model of media making. We offer 35+ years of professional services and we will continue to perform our job as best as we can for another 35+ years."  

Check them out! Find them at 90 Union Square in Somerville or call them at 617-628-8826 to learn more.

3) Smiles by Rosie

Smiles by Rosie may just be the most exciting dentist in Somerville. If you ask Angela Brown, a dental assistant and insurance specialist at Smiles by Rosie, why she likes working for the company, she will tell you that “it’s the best place ever!” with catching enthusiasm. She describes the company as “relaxing, non-judgmental and exciting” and says that the 10-person staff is like family. Angela started working at Smiles by Rosie five years ago in a temporary position, then started as an assistant for two and a half years before she became the insurance specialist. She can’t say enough about how tight-knit the staff is and how easy it is to be around her co-workers. She says that the staff "can ask anything" without judgement because of the safe environment. After talking with Angela, it was clear that the company is a special place, both for the staff and the customers.  

Smiles by Rosie is an adult and pediatric dentistry in Somerville designed for people with dental anxiety and for those who haven’t had a visit to a dentist in a while. The staff takes the time to provide a safe and non-judgmental space so that patients feel as comfortable as possible. Find them at 6 Kensington Avenue in Somerville or call 617-623-2100 to make an appointment that will be sure to put a smile on your face!

4) Off the Beaten Path Food Tours

5) Winter Hill Brewing

6) Zen Dog Training

Nominee Selection

These employers have been recognized by their employees as exemplifying the following four attributes:

  1. Provides great service to customers and/or great products
  2. Provides great service to customers and/or great products
  3. Employment benefits are generous and support a work-life balance
  4. Employees believe in and support company mission and values  

The vision of the Talent Equity Playbook is to empower Somerville residents to thrive in an ever-changing world and workplace.

The Plan’s goals are to:

  1. Build economic opportunity for all Somerville youth and adults and make sure they have the skills and knowledge to succeed in meaningful careers
  2. Make sure current and future Somerville businesses can hire quality local talent and retain and develop their workers

The jobs linkage fee will help Somerville meet the SomerVision goal of fostering 30,000 new jobs by providing a fund to train existing residents to help them compete in the local job market and combat effects of displacement. The jobs fee will start at $2.46 per 15,000 square feet. Half will be paid with the building permit while the other half will be paid with the certificate of occupancy. To learn more, read the Nexus Report below.

Skill UP Somerville

Skill Up Somerville logoSkill UP Somerville is a City run collaborative online platform to coordinate and support the out-of-school and adult lifelong learning programming happening, primarily in the areas of digital and science literacy. This platform allows for micro-credentialing through digital badging; a training provider validated indicator of accomplishments that allows badge earners to share the skills and competencies learned and projects completed in a course, program, or workshop. Badges are created by independent partner organizations offering aligned programming. The affordable and accessible digital and science literacy programming offered by partner organizations build strong skills in digital tool use, creative problem solving, and the critical and computational thinking. Students becoming literate in these tools will be well equipped to understand, access, and navigate an ever-changing world. Visit for more details.

Somerville High School FabLab

FabVille logo

What is Fabville? Fabville is a fabrication space in Somerville High School that focuses on engaging people in creative processes to design and implement projects through the use of light industrial, high tech equipment like 3D printers, laser cutters, and a CNC router. It is meant to complement professional and non-professional makerspaces already existing in the city and is designed to engage an entrepreneurial mindset and approach and provide the fabrication tools needed to solve all types of projects and problems. Click here to learn more.

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