Ed Gaskin, the former chief operating officer of the Boston TenPoint Coalition, has been named the new executive director of the Greater Grove Hall Main Streets, which has been without a director for over a year.
A resident of Randolph and graduate of MIT’s Sloan School of Business, Gaskin said he is excited to take over the non-profit business development organization, which was previously run by Axel Starke.
“I want to take what I’ve learned and bring it to Grove Hall,” Gaskin said.
Partially funded through federal dollars administered by the city of Boston, Main Street groups work to revitalize commercial districts in Boston neighborhoods. The Greater Grove Hall Main Streets was founded in 1999 and is one of 20 Main Street Districts city-wide.
From developing a technology innovation center to finding ways to make the neighborhood a destination, Gaskin, who has worked for IBM and EMC, an information technology service provider, said there is a lot of potential in the area.
“We [African-Americans] are consumers of technology, but we’re not producers, so how can we bring those start-ups here?” Gaskin asked. “We also have a huge influx of traffic in the area and we need to convert that traffic into revenue for local residents and business.”
Gaskin added that connecting the neighborhood’s businesses, both big and small, will be a priority.
“You don’t just have to help small or big businesses, but you have to stop the constant turnover and create stability,” said Gaskin. “The community has attributes that make it a destination, so the question is how we make it a destination and what should it be a destination for?”
“I want to see how we can look at existing businesses and help them expand outside of Grove Hall and take businesses that are in other Main Street Districts that offer services that aren’t found in Grove Hall and bring them here,” Gaskin added.
In a release distributed by the Greater Grove Hall Main Streets, the organization’s board celebrated Gaskin’s selection. At least 12 applications were received for the position.
“We are excited to have Ed Gaskin as executive director of Greater Grove Hall Main Streets,” Robby Thomas, chair of the board, said in a statement. “His unique skill set and experience working with us to further our economic development agenda in the Greater Grove Hall market means that more and more businesses in the Grove Hall community can learn about the services the city provides through the Main Streets program.”
"We are very excited that Greater Grove Hall Main Streets has chosen a new executive director with broad economic development experience," Sheila Dillon, director of the City's Department of Neighborhood Development, said in a statement. "Ed's expertise in the small business sector is a wonderful fit for Grove Hall, and we look forward to working with him to build on the great momentum in this district."
Gaskin said there is no set date for when he will hold a public meeting to introduce himself to the community, but said he expects to hold one in the coming months.
“I want to first get a better feel for what we can do before we promise things that we can’t deliver,” said Gaskin.