Business leaders convene for Innovation Summit in Marlborough
Marlborough – Someday, if Arthur Bergeron, the chair of the Marlborough Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) has his way, the “Boros” will be known throughout the world as a great place to live and do business.
And although progress is being made in that direction, he told the nearly 150 local government and business leaders gathered at the Campus at Marlborough Friday, Oct. 26 for the third Annual Business Innovation Summit, it will take the work and cooperation of all the different municipalities that make up the area a reality. (The Boros region is considered Northborough, Southborough, Westborough, and Marlborough as well as Hopkinton and Hudson.)
The summit, which was sponsored by the MEDC and Mirick O’Connell (where Bergeron is an attorney) also featured a keynote speech from Gregory Bialecki, the Mass. secretary of housing and economic development.
Bergeron first gave an overview of what Marlborough officials have accomplished since Arthur Vigeant, the former long-time City Council president, moved into the position of mayor in January 2012.
The mayor had personally reached out to over 150 businesses in the city, Bergeron said, either by phone call or in-person visit. In talking with the owners, the most surprising thing that was discovered, he noted, was that companies wanted more local services, such as restaurants, shops and recreational facilities, nearby for their employees. As a result, the city is now working with developer Atlantic Management to create a mixed-use overlay district for the former 109-acre former Hewlett-Packard (HP) campus located on Forest Street. Walking and biking trails throughout the city, included the newly-opened Lake Williams trail, were also a focus, Bergeron said.
Finding and retaining qualified staff was also an urgent issue for many businesses, he said. After the success of a city-sponsored Jobs Fair in June, officials are considering holding additional ones, perhaps even on a monthly basis.
Other priorities officials were working on, he said, were developing affordable housing options, transportation ideas, including the possibility of a shuttle from the Southborough commuter rail station to Marlborough, and ensuring that there was sufficient water, sewer and high-speed internet connections for companies.
Bergeron noted that although city officials are intent on aggressively courting businesses “to fill Marlborough buildings, it’s important to know that we want to work with neighboring communities, too. “
“We share many of the same issues and concerns,” he added. “We’re all in this together.”
Bialecki, in his speech, reiterated many of those themes. Communities would only be successful, he said, if “business, government, and the academic sector work together.”
The state has put together an economic development plan, that will hopefully help the commonwealth compete in the 21st century, he said. Elements of the plan include a focus on innovation, supporting entrepreneurship, promoting collaboration between sectors, ensuring a “tremendous base for research and development” and providing a network of formal and informal mentors.
Bialecki also noted that manufacturing has been through a “quiet revolution” over the past 20 years. Many companies, he said, had evolved from producing paper or plastic products to producing such things now as products for the medical sector.
“Growth to scale” was also important, he added.
“We’ve let people get away,” he said. “Regarding the talent question, how do we keep people here?”
That was where areas outside of Boston, that had high a quality of living, would become important, he said.
To read the state’s entire economic development plan, go to http://www.mass.gov/hed/economic/initiatives/compete/index.html.
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