Connolly touts economic development as he tours Grove Hall

John Connolly talks with Kueen King (left) at King & Kueens salon.
John Connolly talks with Kueen King (left) at King & Kueens salon.
(Wesley Lowery photo)

A heavy sun beating down on him, John R. Connolly spent more than two hours ducking into storefronts in the Grove Hall section this afternoon, embarking on a business tour as his campaign prepared to unveil a series of new proposals aimed at assisting small businesses owned by women and people of color.

“We are a stronger city for our diversity, but we face daunting equity gaps that threaten to undermine our future,” Connolly said. “We can improve economic opportunities for all Bostonians, no matter their background or where they live.”

Led by several members of the business community that bridges both Roxbury and Dorchester, the mayoral candidate popped in by hair salons, pizza shops, chicken restaurants, and barber shops. He also stopped in front of many vacant lots, pledging to find new ways to funnel money toward economic development in minority neighborhoods.

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“Besides education, it’s the second most important issue for Boston residents, maybe even the most important issue,” said Mike Williams, a member of the Action for Boston Community Development board and a Connolly supporter. “In communities like this, making sure people have an opportunity to work and make a living is key. “

In a plan released this afternoon, Connolly vowed to commission a study on business disparities, prioritize joint venture bidding, and alter bonding requirements to allow more businesses to spring up in low-income areas.

He also proposed a “Buy Boston” campaign to serve as a facilitator between Boston’s small-business owners and major corporations, nonprofits, and universities in the region.

Connolly has stressed that he believes he is running a citywide campaign and that his message will resonate in neighborhoods like Roxbury, Dorchester, and Mattapan—which are considered a major battle ground in the Nov. 5 general election against state Representative Martin J. Walsh.

After stopping by a series of restaurants, Connolly ducked into King & Kueens, a unisex hair salon owned and operated by Kueen King, the daughter of the Rev. William Dickerson, a Connolly supporter and well-known Roxbury minister.

Connolly began by telling King about his plans to empower more women and people of color to start small businesses, but the conversation soon turned to schools.

“I actually have a hair stylist who went to the Trotter,” King said to Connolly, allowing Connolly to segue into his well-practiced exchange about the once-underacheiving Dorchester elementary school where his daughter attends kindergarten.