Southborough steps up economic development effort
By Michelle Murdock, Contributing Writer
Dunne, of the MetroWest Economic Research Center (MERC) at Framingham State University, was before the board to present the results of a recent study completed for Southborough that looked at the town’s business, non-profit and employment activity.
“This report, along with the Economic Development Self-Assessment Tool by Northeastern University, is a critical component in understanding and planning for Southborough’s future, its economic well-being, and sustaining job growth in our community,” wrote David McCay, Southborough’s Economic Development Committee chair, who is also a partner at the Westborough-based firm Mirick O’Connell, in a letter to the board. “If we are to preserve Southborough’s rural charm, open space, excellent schools and core services, we must nurture our local businesses and non-profits that provide important financial support to the town. Smart planning for Southborough’s economic development requires knowing first who and what our economic base is.
Dunne’s report provided selectmen with a look back at Southborough’s history, the details of its current economic base and a comparison to the surrounding region.
Key points from the presentation included the number of jobs, the number and types of employers and the average annual income of employees. According to Dunne’s report, Southborough has 430 establishments, up from 130 in 1980. A total of 7,600 workers are employed with an average annual salary of $75,800, and Southborough’s economy is well diversified. Four North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) super sectors generate nearly 75 percent of Southborough’s total employment. The Education and Health super sector employs 23 percent of Southborough’s workers, while the Professional and Business Services employs 21 percent, followed by Manufacturing at 18 percent.
“You want this,” said Dunne. “It’s a very good finding. Southborough has experienced a remarkable increase in employment, payroll wages and establishments over three decades; setbacks have been relatively brief, and the overall trend has been growth exceeding the state and national rates.”
While MERC typically looks at regional data, the report for Southborough was specific to the town, providing local data.
“Local knowledge is key to good choices,” said Dunne.
Compared to the other communities in MetroWest (Framingham, Sudbury, Wayland, Natick, Sherborn, Holliston, Hopkinton, and Ashland) Southborough was rated third in average annual wages behind Hopkinton and Marlborough, seventh in total payroll, eighth in employment and ninth in number of establishments.
Dunne urged the board to remember that Southborough is part of a larger, vibrant region and stressed the need to be aware of the relentless competition from nearby towns.
“My hope is that you will make good informed choices as you plan your economic future together,” said Dunne.
McCay, who was also present at the meeting, spoke about the recent efforts of Southborough’s Economic Development Committee. Formed about one year ago, the committee has been meeting monthly and focusing on outreach.
“We’re stewards for the local economy,” said McCay. “We’re here to support local businesses.”
To support that effort the committee has been focusing on meeting with neighboring communities that already have well-funded and organized economic development structures in place, meeting with local businesses and compiling a database of who is currently in town, creating a website, and planning a business/non-profit summit to discuss how best to partner together for Southborough’s future.
For more information about the Southborough Economic Development Committee, http://www.southboroughtown.com/EDC.
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