2014 Economic Development Update

Bedford, MA Town LogoIn 2014, the Town of Bedford hired its first Economic Development Coordinator, Alyssa Sandoval, to devise strategies to help Bedford retain and attract businesses and enhance its existing business districts. 2014 has been a great year for Bedford! Let’s step back and reflect on some of the highlights.

Sample of New Businesses locating to Bedford in 2014 with Industry Noted:

 

  •  Aspen Technology, 400 employees. High-tech
  •  Bedford Research Foundation. Biotech
  • Conagen, 20 employees. Biotech
  • CucinaD Restaurant. Restaurant
  • EDCO Collaborative. Education
  • Entegris, 100 employees. Advanced Manufacturing
  • Formulatrix, 20 employees. Biotech
  • Salem Five Savings Bank. Bank
  • S4 Inc. Defense and Security

News on Tax Rates: Overall economic growth in Bedford in 2014 resulted in a 5.6% decrease in the property tax rate for commercial and industrial properties from $34.04 in FY2014 to $32.12 in FY2015.

Reaching Out to the Business Community

To gain a better understanding of the current companies in Bedford and their goals and concerns, Alyssa Sandoval organized meetings to identify issues to work on and collaborate with companies and property owners in Bedford including:

  • November 4, 2014 Meeting with Companies on Wiggins Avenue Chris Conway Director of Facilities at Anika Therapeutics, Bruce Lee, from Lee Partners review Wiggins Avenue maps provided by Adrienne St. John, Bedford Town Engineer

    November 4, 2014 Meeting with Companies on Wiggins Avenue Chris Conway Director of Facilities at Anika Therapeutics, Bruce Lee, from Lee Partners review Wiggins Avenue maps provided by Adrienne St. John, Bedford Town Engineer

    One on one meetings with companies and small businesses, such as Counterpoint Health Solutions

  • Larger “neighborhood” meetings
    • Meetings on June 10, 2014 and November 4, 2014 with Wiggins Avenue companies and a business park owner
    • Meetings on September 18, 2014, November 24, 2014, and December 3, 2014 with Crosby Drive companies and business park owners.
    • Some businesses have noted the need for better Town to Business communication
    • Some businesses along Wiggins Avenue would like to see improved pedestrian facilities for their companies’ employees
    • Another meeting with Wiggins Avenue companies will be set up for February 2015 to
      review shuttle service expansion and improving pedestrian connections from Wiggins to
      Great Road restaurants and amenities

Positive outcomes from business outreach:

crosby-drive-shuttle-to-mitre

CROSBY DRIVE SHUTTLE TO MITRE

 

o  Improved Town to business communication–regular email notifications and meetings to identify issues and work collaboratively

o  Collaboration with property owners on median landscape improvements on Crosby Drive

o  New commuter shuttle service launched to Crosby Drive

 

 

Marketing and Promotion

Website: To enhance Bedford’s business profile, there is now a new Economic Development website on the Town’s website http://www.bedfordma.gov/economic-development. An important message the website sends to the business community is that the Town is “business-friendly.” The website provides a number of resources that developed specifically for prospective businesses including:

 

  • A comprehensive list of available commercial/industrial properties for lease/sale
  • Industrial district maps with key companies to highlight Bedford’s industrial districts
  • Business resources such as grants and tax incentives, and,
  • Relevant business permits and licenses checklist

 

Twitter: As of September 2014, there is a new Twitter page to highlight and promote Bedford businesses

–followme@BedfordMABiz!

bronze-winner-is-entegris,-massecon

BRONZE WINNER IS ENTEGRIS, MassECON Economic Impact Awards Ceremony, November 25, 2014 Photo Credit: Janet Stearns.

Economic Impact Award: As part of the strategy to raise the profile of Bedford companies, Bedford nominated Entegris for the annual state-wide Economic Impact Awards through MassECON for the new i2mCenteron Crosby Drive. The company was awarded a Bronze-level award and Alyssa Sandoval attended the high-profile awards ceremony in Boston on November 25, 2014 to represent Bedford.  More information on Entegris’ new innovation center here in Bedford, MA

 

 

 

 

Way finding/Branding of Bedford Town Center

While the Town of Bedford has a rich cultural heritage and is home to a wide array of cultural and historical resources clustered in Town Center, residents and visitors may have little knowledge of these resources. As part of outreach to businesses and residents in Bedford Center, Alyssa Sandoval has heard that the Center lacks of cohesion and visibility. One way that Bedford can better unify and brand its Town Center is through way finding features to aid visitors and residents in locating cultural resources and historic sites, restaurants, stores and other amenities, including parking in Bedford’s Town Center. To jump start this effort, the Town applied for a grant through the state’s Downtown Technical Assistance Program for a $10,000 way finding study. A study group comprised of business owners, Bedford Chamber members, members of the Town’s cultural organizations, and Town staff will be formed to support and guide this effort.

Middlesex3 Coalition Coordination/Shuttle Service Efforts

As already noted briefly, Alyssa Sandoval is currently working closely with Middlesex3 Coalition to expand commuter shuttle service for employees to the Crosby Drive, Middlesex Turnpike and Burlington Road area. She organized several meetings with large property owners, MITRE, the Davis Company (Bedford Business Park),and National Development(Crosby Corporate Center).In addition, the Rev shuttle currently has a stop on Wiggins Avenue and Alyssa S and oval has been working with companies to take advantage of this services o that more companies may be served along this route.

Existing Businesses Database

Part of developing an overall economic development strategy is having a good understanding of the current businesses in Bedford. With technical assistance ably provided by Public Works GIS Analyst Chris Nelson, Alyssa Sandoval developed an innovative GIS-based business database. The data base is also directly linked to current permit information through Code Enforcement. The database can be used to identify company type clusters, business contact information, permit information, send out information and keep track of company communications. The database currently has over 600 entries, and is continuously updated.

Permitting Coordination

Alyssa Sandoval has held several pre-permitting coordination meetings with companies and prospective developers of commercial and industrial properties in Bedford. Working closely with Town departments, she created a check list of relevant permits and licenses with department contact information and approximate time lines to provide better transparency and ease to the permitting process for prospective businesses and developers. It has been helpful to use as a general guide in pre-permitting meetings. The worksheet is located on the Town’s website is hyper-linked to Town department and permit applications http://www.bedfordma.gov/sites/bedfordma/files/u231/checklist_of_relevant_commercial_licenses_and_permits.pdf .

Economic Development Strategy/Future Initiatives

  • Continue toworkwithMiddlesex3 Coalition on marketing, events, transportation, business development, and infrastructure opportunities
  • Establish study group for way finding initiative for Town Center
  • Explore available state grant funding, such as Mass Works, for Great Road Master Plan planning and implementation.
  • In coordination with the Planning Department, review and provide input for industrial and commercial zoning revisions to enhance industrial & commercial areas and incentivize attractive redevelopment of out-of-date properties. Work with Middlesex3 Coalition, commercial brokers and developers to gather business input on potential zoning changes
  • Continue engagement with companies and businesses in the areas of Crosby Drive, Middlesex Turnpike, Great Road, Wiggins, and South Road / DeAngelo Drive.
  • Connect Middlesex Community College and UMass Lowell with Bedford companies regarding relevant workforce training opportunities, internships, and lab space resources
  • Develop relationship with MassBio for biotech company recruitment

Small Business Initiatives

  •  Develop a “How to Open a Business in Bedford” guide targeted to small businesses wishing to locate/expand in Bedford and post on the Town website Begin outreach to Bedford retailers and organize a retail makeover work shop open to area businesses with theMiddlesex3 Coalition
  • Continue to work collaboratively with Chamber to support and enhance small business success inBedford

Promotion and Marketing

  • Develop company highlights marketing brochureof6innovativeBedford companies to use for marketing and business recruitment
  • To attract new businesses, market Bedford’s commercial/industrial neighborhoods and assist with “branding” of industrial and commercial areas, e.g. Crosby Drive; the Depot District; and Great Road
  • Explore visitor/cultural resources in Bedford and highlight these resources on the Economic Development website. Potentially join the Greater Merrimack Valley Convention and Visitors Bureau
  • Identify events and opportunities to highlight individual Bedford businesses and their achievements

 

E Ink Corp., technology company, relocating to Billerica.

E Ink workers board a shuttle to North Station

E Ink workers board a shuttle to North Station

BILLERICA — E Ink Corp. was making a big move.  After about 15 years in Cambridge, the technology company was relocating to Billerica.
While management anticipated several benefits from shipping up north, they were also worried about losing employees who didn’t want to commute out of the city.

“Our concern was that some of the employees who came right out of college, who love the city, who love being able to bike and walk everywhere, would leave us,” said Dean LaMothe, director of finance for E Ink, which develops electronic paper that is used in the Amazon Kindle and Barnes & Noble Nook.

“So we took on the task of offering them a means to get to the office other than by driving a car,” he added. “Transportation is a growing need for companies, and we needed to figure out how to accommodate our employees.”
And to the rescue came the Middlesex 3 Coalition, a collaboration of public and private leaders in Billerica, Lowell, Chelmsford, Bedford and Burlington. The coalition introduced E Ink to TransAction Corporate Shuttles Inc., and now E Ink has a short-term solution to its transportation problem.

E Ink is only one of countless employers that have moved from the Boston-area to Greater Lowell, bringing with them transitional issues, according to the Middlesex 3 Coalition, whose goal is to “promote the competitive advantages of the region and advance the economic vitality of the corridor.”
Based on the success of E Ink, Middlesex 3 is hoping to bounce off that momentum and help other Route 3 companies with similar situations, as well as attract more employers to the area. “Middlesex 3’s idea is that the area can be more attractive for businesses if there are programs like the shuttle service available for companies,” said Stephanie Cronin, who helps lead the Middlesex 3 Coalition from Billerica Town Hall, where she is also the town’s economic development coordinator.  Companies are relocating up here for cheaper land and space, but one issue has always been transportation,” she added. “This (solution with E Ink) was a perfect example of the region working together to solve a problem, and we’re looking forward to helping other companies.”

LaMothe emphasized how Middlesex 3 is doing a great job at bringing awareness to the economic vitality of the Route 3 corridor and providing a forum for area companies. “I’m definitely aware of more companies coming into the Middlesex 3 area, like Keurig and iRobot,” he said. “It’s a great revenue source for each of these towns, and then with the coalition bringing the companies together, everyone benefits.” LaMothe said that E Ink moved to Billerica for various reasons: Company officials wanted to expand, and 1000 Technology Park provided much more space; Billerica was only 15 miles from its Cambridge location, so it was relatively close; and a lower lease rate was the “icing on the cake,” he said. The widening of Route 3 from two to three lanes did not play a factor in E Ink’s move, but it “came along with the package,” LaMothe said. He said that many employees, including ones who take the shuttle service, are now traveling a reverse commute, which is an added benefit. “And they start the workday when they get on the shuttle because it has Wi-Fi. It’s great,” LaMothe said. “The group of employees have business conversations before they get into the office.”

E Ink launched the service in August and is opening participation up to companies who want to use the shuttles and share the costs. There are three trips from 6:15 a.m. to 10:15 a.m. and then three trips from 3:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. The shuttles connect Technology Park in Billerica with three MBTA stations: Alewife, North Station and JFK.

The cost and vehicle size is based on ridership and community participation. TransAction Corporate Shuttles has vehicles that accommodate 15 to 33 passengers. “So our short-term plan is to partner with other companies nearby to make it more cost-effective,” LaMothe said. “Long-term we’ll look into government-funded resources to implement a program for the region, so we don’t have to depend on individual companies. “It’s a growing need for companies, and if we reduce single-driver cars out there, it can be the start of something very powerful in this region,” he added. The shuttle program also includes access to the emergency-ride-home program, if the employee becomes sick or has an emergency that requires them to get home quickly. “It’s a great safety net for the employees, and it makes them much more comfortable that we offer that emergency program,” said Cindy Frené, president of TransAction, which is based in Woburn. Cronin, of the Middlesex 3 Coalition, said the group is promoting the shuttle service and additional options for other companies to jump on board. She said Parexel International, a clinical research organization, recently worked with the Lowell Regional Transit Authority to expand bus service into its new location at Federal Street in Billerica. Also, EMD Serono, a pharmaceutical and chemical company, has worked with the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority to expand bus service into its Middlesex Turnpike location in Billerica.

The Middlesex 3 Coalition’s goal is to “strengthen and grow economic development, create and retain jobs, increase and diversify the tax base, and improve the quality of life in the Middlesex 3 communities.” The coalition assists with infrastructure and transportation projects, introduces members to business, municipal and financial contacts, helps with grants and training programs, and is a direct line to legislators.

For more information on Middlesex 3, visit www.Middlesex3.com or call 978-808-5281.
For more information on TransAction Corporate Shuttles, call 781-895-1100.
Follow Rick Sobey on Twitter and Tout @rsobeyLSun.

Read more: http://www.lowellsun.com/news/ci_24151290/highway-rides-high-tech-workforce#ixzz2fisSqY5Z

Stephanie Cronin
Executive Director
Middlesex 3 Coalition
(978) 808-5281
www.middlesex3.com
info@middlesex.com