WORCESTER BUSINESS JOURNAL – For many years, Marlborough was best known as a one-time shoe-manufacturing center, the city that supplied footwear to the Union army during the Civil War.
The cobbler shops are gone. Now the city is fast becoming New England’s center for medical, pharmaceutical and biotech businesses.
Two industry giants — Boston Scientific and Quest Diagnostics — moved operations into the city this summer, bringing with them hundreds of jobs and boosting tax revenues by about $2 million. Several high-tech companies may also be setting up operations here soon as well.
According to Mayor Arthur Vigeant, that didn’t happen without a lot of work. “We’ve been doing a lot of outreach and working to make the city business-friendly,” he says. “We’ve worked with the state to bulk up water and sewer and make that infrastructure more efficient for businesses. We’re adding things that high-tech workers like, such as biking and walking trails.”
It’s been a stunning turnaround. A few years ago, commercial real estate in Marlborough was in freefall. The biggest blow came in 2012, when Fidelity Investments, the Boston-based mutual fund giant, closed its local facility and moved more than 1,000 jobs out of state.
But now, that loss is largely forgotten.
Boston Scientific, the medical device giant, moved its global headquarters to Marlborough in June, to a location near the intersection of interstates 290 and 495. The move brought 800 jobs to the city. The company’s old headquarters in Natick is expected to become home to the software company MathWorks.
Corporate leaders say the relocation has allowed the company to consolidate its offices with other operations already in Marlborough. The move is expected to generate some savings, though no one has said how much.
“Our move has gone well,” Kelly Leadem, the company’s director of external communications, said in a recent statement. “The Marlborough location has been home to Boston Scientific’s endoscopy and urology women’s health businesses since 2004 . . . Extensive renovations and expansions were put in place, and the site opened as the company’s new global headquarters in June, housing all corporate functions.”
Meanwhile, Quest Diagnostics, the medical testing company headquartered in New Jersey, has opened a 200,000-square-foot facility in Marlborough’s Forest Park. The former Hewlett-Packard property will now house a laboratory outreach businesss the company acquired last year from UMass Memorial Health Care.
The Quest facility will be the cornerstone of a large mixed-use development called Forest Park. Eventually, it’s expected to include a Hilton Graden Inn hotel, 350 luxury rental units, and 75,000 square feet of retail space.
The list of new arrivals includes smaller companies as well.
Marlborough is also the new home of RXi Pharmaceuticals Corp., a biotech startup that’s developing treatment of hypertrophic scars. Before relocating in July, the company had an office in Westborough and a lab in Worcester. Now all employees work under one roof.
Several high-tech companies are looking at Marlborough as well. SanDisk, the data storage company based in Silicon Valley, has plans to open an R&D facility, which could bring 60 jobs to Central Massachusetts. And fiber-laser manufacturer IPG Photonics may set up R&D operations, too, to complement their base of operations in Oxford.
Others may soon follow, according toTim Cummings, executive director of the Marlborough Economic Development Corp. “We’re constantly engaging with companies considering a move,” he says, “but nothing I’m at liberty to talk about now.”
“What’s the attraction? It’s a combination of things,” adds Tony Caramello, business development manager at the Marlborough Regional Chamber of Commerce. “We have the location, obviously. Our tax rate is very competitive with (those) of other communities. And we’ve got a number of life science companies here already.”
This article by John Larrabee originally appeared here.