Business executives from throughout the Greater Boston area joined Boston Mayor Martin Walsh Wednesday morning as he emphasized a need for improved housing plans and greater opportunities for Boston’s veterans, and announced the appointment of a new director of Boston Redevelopment Authority at his second Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce address.
“Mayor Walsh provided members of the business community with a comprehensive review of his first year in office, announced several new policy initiatives and responded to the audience questions,” said Charles Rudnik, a spokesman for the Chamber of Commerce, in an email. “The mayor’s announcement that he was appointing Brian Golden as permanent director of the Boston Redevelopment Authority was a welcome surprise and prompted a standing ovation.”
As director of the BRA, Golden will manage all aspects of the organization to maintain its core values of community engagement planning, responsibility and economic development, according to the BRA website.
Walsh detailed his vision of Boston as a city “that’s thriving, healthy and innovative” at the Westin Copley Place Hotel. He began his address to the crowd with a commemoration of his predecessor, former Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, who died from cancer on Oct. 30.
“The outpouring of affection for Mayor Menino last month was a testament to his legacy,” he said. “It was here at the Chamber of Commerce that he put his stamp on the City’s relationship with its business community.”
New homes are being built throughout Boston, Walsh said. Having exceeded the city’s yearly number of annual housing starts, Boston is on track to achieving its goal of building 53,000 units by 2030.
The Boston Police Department, along with other public safety agencies, have striven to maintain the city’s reputation as safe and secure, Walsh said.
“We’re proud of these results,” he said. “We hit the ground running, and we didn’t let up. We set new standards in development, education, public safety, housing, public health and infrastructure — the building blocks of our great city. And we are going to reach even higher next year. We are going to keep pace with Boston’s expanding population and soaring economy.”
While the City has already made strides in the areas of housing and development, Walsh outlined his upcoming housing plan, with an emphasis on growth zones.
“Boston needs more housing. But there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Every neighborhood has its own character. In some places, density is not only appropriate — it is badly needed,” he said. “It is needed to bring prices back within reach. It is needed to spur retail investment. It is needed to breathe new life into under-developed streets.”
Walsh highlighted the expansion of commercial districts in Boston’s neighborhoods. In 2014, 93 new businesses were founded in the city, creating approximately 687 jobs, but he highlighted the need for greater business-venture opportunities for veterans.
“I’m proud of the City’s support for women and minority owned businesses. But I was surprised to find out we offered no similar program for military veterans. We owe it to veterans — and to our communities — to draw on their character and leadership,” Walsh said. “So I’m going to issue an executive order that guarantees veteran-owned businesses get that same first chance at City contracts.”
Massachusetts is in the midst of change, Walsh noted, as expiring leaders conclude their terms in office, and the Commonwealth welcomes new office-holders, including Gov.-elect Charlie Baker, who will take the place of current Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick.
“Truly, it’s an exciting time for Massachusetts. And it’s an exciting time for Boston. It’s a time of new leadership and new growth. It’s a moment of change in our history. It’s an opportunity to define a new era, as we build a new vision for our city,” Walsh said. “To all our new office-holders: The City Council and I look forward to a productive partnership with you, to move Boston and the region forward together.”
Sarah Poff contributed to the reporting of this article.