BANKER & TRADESMAN – There are many factors that a business needs to consider when choosing a location to call home. Traditionally, in addition to cost, the decision has been based mainly on location or access to highways, infrastructure, talent and tax incentives.
In more recent years, however, many large companies have shifted towards a more holistic site-selection approach – taking into consideration the broader picture, including proximity to amenities and the overall attitude of the community they would be working with.
Marlborough has been adapting swiftly to these shifting trends and, as a result, over the past eight years it has seen significant commercial-sector growth, adding more than 150 new companies and 7,000 new jobs to its economy. While much of the success can be attributed to the city’s central location, affordable real estate and easy access to multiple interstate highways, its unrivaled business-friendliness and growing array of amenities has ultimately helped it land a number of major employers.
Over the past year alone, Marlborough welcomed global medical device maker Candela, which took 50,000 square feet of space and committed to creating 100 jobs in addition to its existing 200 employees, through a seven-year tax incentive agreement. The city also helped to facilitate the move of Doble Engineering, which filled 72,000 square feet and built an 8,000-square-foot addition, by simply working with the building owner and committing to provide expedited permitting, as well as a friendly face, should problems arise. And then there is Allegro MicroSystems, which traded its 53-year-old Worcester headquarters for a modern 50,000-square-foot space in Marlborough. ExaGrid consolidated a number of smaller offices strewn across the state into its new state-of-the-art Marlborough headquarters that, according to the owners, offered the company the best combination of space, amenities and value.
Downtown Attractions As Recruitment Advantage
How does a small MetroWest city maintain this momentum of economic growth? It starts with the understanding that if companies can attract a good employee base they will stay. In today’s world, employers choose locations that are cool, trendy and cater to the Millennial generation.
We recognize that if we channel our efforts into providing these unique amenities and recreational options, we can set our city apart from other suburban communities and help our local companies create the environment their current and future employees are seeking.
The Apex Center of New England, a new, 500,000-square-foot development offering a wide variety of retail options, restaurants, hotels and a 175,000-square-foot entertainment complex, opened in 2018 as a direct result of our efforts to implement feedback we received from local businesses. We have been taking conscious steps towards being more Millennial-friendly by implementing programs like Zagster – a city-wide, city-sponsored bike share program – and attracting trendy anchors, like Niche Hospitality’s The Fix Burger Bar in the business district and Lost Shoe Brewing and Roasting Co. and Flying Dreams Brewery in the downtown area.
From a practical standpoint, Marlborough continues to be a more affordable place to live, compared to other life sciences and high-tech hubs, all while providing a suburban-meets-urban culture and landscape. We offer the same type of amenities you can find in downtown Boston and, at the same time, we also have hundreds of acres of parks and fields, hiking trails and other outdoor activities that are so desirable today.
From the outside, it might seem overly ambitious that a small city is working so hard to attract new businesses. But more companies means more people boosting the local economy. When a company brings 200 of its employees to Marlborough, that translates to 200 more people using our local service vendors, eating at our local restaurants and shopping at our local retailers.
Growing the commercial sector adds to the city’s bottom line. This ultimately helps to keep the residential tax base stable and the property tax bills predictable and lower than any of the surrounding communities, all while continuing to add new city services for the local residents.
This article by Marlborough Economic Development Corporation executive director Meredith Harris originally appeared here.