Love The Ave Newsletter: February

Featured photo above: TDI Local grants were announced at a special celebration on The Ave in 2023.

Investing in New Bedford TDI District businesses

As we reflect on the vibrant tapestry of events that colored the New Bedford TDI District last year, from the lively Love The Ave Wednesdays to the cultural celebrations that brought our community together, it’s important to acknowledge the quieter but impactful work taking place behind the scenes. In particular, the TDI Local small grants program played a crucial role in nurturing the growth and success of 30 small businesses along and around Acushnet Avenue in the city’s north end.

Working in collaboration with the Community Economic Development Center (CEDC), we processed applications and awarded grants to businesses that enhanced storefronts, invested in signage, and strengthened their digital presence.  The TDI Local program, a MassDevelopment initiative, focuses on fostering business, resident, and property owner engagement while building community identity and improving the public realm.

The grants awarded in the New Bedford TDI District were strategically allocated for several purposes, such as:

  • $50,000 was dedicated to providing up to $5,000 in assistance for storefront and front-of-house improvements, including menu boards, signage, window displays, and lighting.
  • $40,000 was directed towards developing a digital presence for each business, supporting multimedia materials for web and social media, creating content for websites, and offsetting fees for joining food delivery service platforms.
  • $20,000 was made available as a match of up to $5,000 to assist startups with up-front costs for those opening after August 1, 2022, or still securing a physical location in the TDI district.

The impact of these grants is evident in the success stories of our awardees, including businesses like Saenz Restaurant, Cafe Mimo, and Tienda Centro Americana y Antojitos. Through the TDI program, these businesses received support for menu development, new signage, and participation in community events, attracting new clients and fostering growth.

One such success story comes from Karla Ayala, left, the owner of Saenz, who shares her experience:

“My name is Karla Ayala, and I am the owner of Saenz, 1402 Acushnet Ave. I have been running my business for seven years, and for the first time, I received assistance through the TDI program. Adelsa Mendes, the representative of the program in New Bedford, has helped me from day one. For the first time, my restaurant has a menu and a sign. With this, I have gained new clients. TDI has held events for the community, where I have had the opportunity to participate as a food vendor for the first time. These events have contributed to attracting new clients to my business, and I am thrilled and grateful for the TDI program.”

Businesses in the district have also received support in applying for the Massachusetts Growth Capital Inclusive Grant, resulting in an additional award of over $200,000 to several businesses within the district.

As we celebrate these successes, let’s continue to support and champion the diverse businesses that make our community thrive. The TDI Local small grants program is a testament to the positive impact we can achieve when we invest in our local entrepreneurs.

Here’s a look at some before and after photos in the slideshow below of our New Bedford TDI Local businesses…


THROUGH FEBRUARY: New Bedford Food Tours is running the Sweet Bread Smackdown – a friendly competition to determine who has the best sweet bread on the South Coast. Bakeries on The Ave that are part of the Sweet Bread Snackdown include: Economy, Holiday, Lorenzo’s, Padaria Nova Bakery, and Sara’s Bakery.

Here’s how to How to Participate:

  1. Eat sweet bread at as many bakeries as you can.
  2. Vote for your favorite online. You can vote once per day for the month of February.

Visit for an interactive map of all the bakeries on the South Coast that bake their own sweet bread.

SATURDAY, FEB. 10: Celebrate the soft opening of the South Coast Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the first Hispanic Chamber in the South Coast area. Join them at the New Bedford Harbor Hotel on Saturday, February 10, 2024, from 4:00 pm to 7:00 pm. This event is free, but registration is required (Register here:

– Meet the women involved in the South Coast Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

– Get more information about services and upcoming programming.

– Network with like-minded small business owners and professionals in the South Coast region.

– Bring your business cards to network and be entered into a raffle!

– Enjoy light refreshments, music, a cash bar, and networking!


OUT NOW: The Regeneration Project Committee of the New Bedford Economic Development Council (NBEDC) unveiled its latest report titled “Housing for All: Forward-Looking Strategies for a Growing New Bedford,” addressing crucial issues and potential solutions for housing in the city and the broader region. You can read the report at this link.

ON DISPLAY: “Envision Resilience,” an exhibit at the New Bedford Art Museum, features proposals from students at seven colleges addressing climate impact on the South Coast. New Bedford TDI District is pleased to have had the opportunity to collaborate with them, and look forward to much more in the future. Get a peek at the project with this New Bedford Light story and video.

IN RIVERSIDE PARK: The City of New Bedford and Groundwork Southcoast are building a salt marsh, from scratch, in one of New Bedford’s most densely populated neighborhoods. In the process, they’ll connect Riverside Park — and the neighborhood — to the water. Full story here

NOW OPEN: Toast N’ Jam, located at 2331 Acushnet Avenue, opened to delicious acclaim. Read all about it from Southcoast Today here

  • The New Bedford TDI District is a diverse and vibrant neighborhood in the central economic corridor of the city’s North End. This distinct neighborhood is characterized by its linear commercial spine of small business storefronts on the ground level of one- and two-story tenement structures along with ethnic restaurants, cafes, bakeries, churches, and social clubs. The supporting dense neighborhood is comprised primarily of multifamily housing for legacy Portuguese-descent residents and Latino, Hispanic, and Central American immigrant populations. At the forefront of priorities for the New Bedford TDI Partnership is place-based economic development that focuses on small-business development, entrepreneurship, and public realm improvements with an arts-and-culture-based approach. Adelsa Mendes is the TDI fellow for the New Bedford TDI District. You can reach her at [email protected]