Denise Simmons has long recognized that small businesses are the life-blood of the community, and she understands that they are vital to providing both jobs to area residents, and revenue for the community. As a small business owner herself, Denise is personally aware of the many challenges small business owners face. That is why she has consistently worked to strengthen the local business community, promoted networking opportunities for business owners, worked with the City’s Economic Development Department, and promoted projects that sought to revitalize local businesses.
Over the course of this Council term, Denise has convened a group of her colleagues, small business owners, labor advocates, economists, and area stakeholders to explore whether and how the City could move to responsibly increase the minimum wage throughout the City. After months of meetings and examining the matter from numerous angles, it is looking increasingly likely that the City Council will work to move forward with the efforts to increase the minimum wage statewide, as opposed to going it alone, and Denise looks forward to doing everything in her power to ensure that minimum wage workers are ultimately able to earn a decent living, while recognizing the many fiscal pressures and constraints on some of our smaller, mom-and-pop business owners.
This term, Denise has also used the power of the Mayor's Office to convene an advisory committee on Wage Equity. The concept of "equal pay for equal work" should not be a controversial one, and as the Governor signed into law a Wage Equity law that will take effect across the Commonwealth in July 2018, Denise decided that there is no good reason why Cambridge businesses should wait for over a year to begin taking the steps needed to prepare for this law and ensure all their employees are being paid fairly. After months of working with her advisory committee and developing tools that businesses can use to assess how to best ensure they're paying their employees fairly, Denise has been holding a series of community discussions and adding "early adopters" to a growing list of local businesses that have decided to be proactive and implement these changes well ahead of the July 2018 deadline. This is ultimately a win for Cambridge businesses, their employees, and the entire community.
In prior terms, Denise was an important voice in favor of allowing zoning changes that paved the way for the construction of a 1.5 million-square-foot biotech campus in Cambridge. Her reasoning was simple: she understood that this project would bring quality construction jobs to the area, thousands of quality permanent jobs once the project is complete, and the attractive new campus will ensure that Cambridge remains a prime destination in the international biotech sector.
In addition, she aggressively advocated on behalf of workers wishing to bargain collectively for fairer treatment. She had marched on the picket lines with hospitality workers, and she has been actively pushing legislation to ensure that those who clean our city buildings are treated fairly and equitably. Denise continues urging private developers to use skilled labor on jobs in order to ensure quality work and respect for workers. Denise will continue standing in lockstep with the working men and women of Cambridge for decades.
As Mayor, Denise lent her support to Green Jobs development legislation that was pending in the State legislature, which was designed to promote the development and implementation of the “green-collar” jobs (such as producing technology-intensive products, and the retrofitting of homes and offices to be more environmentally-friendly and more energy-efficient). She garnered $100,000 for job training and job placement in the burgeoning green economy. She also continues to support and promote the “Building Pathways" apprenticeship program with the local building trades. She continually fights to urge developers in Cambridge use skilled, qualified laborers on local developments just as they do in Boston - which has not always been the case. Denise has also worked to ensure that our students nearing graduation are made aware of apprenticeship programs and employment opportunities.
During her time on the City Council, Denise has helped hundreds of individuals get connected to the job-finding services and organizations that could help connect them with stable, sustaining employment. She worked closely with the Cambridge Office of Workforce Development, placed calls to her extensive network of friends and associates on behalf of her constituents, wrote letters of reference and recommendation for job seekers, and worked to help many families avert financial disaster. As a City Councillor, she continues to assist her constituents in this manner.