Upham’s Corner Partnership One of Hundreds of Community-Engaged Partnerships
Undergraduate students in the University of Massachusetts Boston’s College of Management have developed ideas for promoting the arts and bringing businesses to the Upham’s Corner neighborhood in Dorchester.
Assistant Professor of Marketing Werner Kunz last week asked students in his “Services Marketing” class to present ideas to integrate the existing Upham’s Corner community, strengthen the culture, and bring outsiders to the neighborhood. Max MacCarthy, executive director of Upham’s Corner Main Street, was on hand to hear the proposals.
“This team here mainly developed some solutions that could make this area more attractive for investors, for business clients, and also for people in Boston,” Kunz said.
During the presentation, the students stressed the importance of not alienating the 54,000 residents who live in the 1-square-mile area, anchored by the intersection of Dudley Street and Columbia Road.
“Once they’re on board, we want to strengthen the culture, make sure there is that thick presence, and once we have that going, we want to bring the people in, make sure there’s that foot traffic coming through. Once that is there, there’ll be the attraction of investors and from there, there will be a thriving, multicultural area,” said Christophe Adolphe, an exchange student from Australia who is studying marketing.
The students suggested creating a marketplace where, once a month, businesses can sell their products in a flea market-like atmosphere. They also suggested the Strand Theatre open its doors for about 300 days of the year, rather than the 40 days it is currently open.
“We’re involved with a lot of arts- and culture-related initiatives, so hopefully these can be implemented in terms of existing things that are already going on,” MacCarthy said.
Barbara Lewis, director of the William Monroe Trotter Institute for the Study of Black History and Culture and associate professor of English, worked with Maureen Scully, associate dean of graduate programs for the College of Management, to connect Upham’s Corner advocates with Kunz’s students. The Strand Theatre is a particular passion for Lewis.
“It has great significance architecturally, and in terms of entertainment history. Upham’s Corner at one point was a market hub for New England, one of the top five. It was because of that market history that the theater was built as a community home, as a community connection, as a network. So I wanted to rediscover that history, and highlight, and also approach art from that perspective of economic development,” Lewis said.
The partnership between the College of Management, the Trotter Institute, and Upham’s Corner is one of 300 community-engaged partnerships on the UMass Boston campus. The Office of Community Relations also has a long history of working with the businesses and police officers in Upham’s Corner. Kunz says each year, his students work with a different client.
“For small and mid-sized companies, it’s very hard to get consulting work done. Maybe they don’t have the budget –they don’t have the people there. And so we have here students in classes, for instance ‘Services Marketing,’ where they learn all of these kinds of skills,” Kunz said. “It’s very interesting when they’re not working on a theoretical project, when they’re working on something that is in real life. Then you have the chance to talk with the business client, and deliver a report that is valuable ,” Kunz said.
“We look forward to continuing to strengthen and expand our partnerships with the community through partnerships that are mutually reinforcing and that really help advance us all collectively,” said Director of Community Partnerships Luciano Ramos.
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