Northborough touts success at Corridor 9 economic development meeting

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By Bonnie Adams Government Editor

Northborough – A commitment to customer service and a willingness on the parts of all town boards to cooperate for the greater good of the town are two hallmarks that have helped Northborough not only weather the economic crisis but actually add significant growth over the past few years.

Northborough's Town Administrator John Corderre presented an overview of the town's economic growth to approximately 35 people in attendance at the Corridor 9 Area Chamber of Commerce Economic Development Committee meeting held Feb. 22 at the Northborough Town Hall.

Corderre noted that town offi- cials were very proud of the recent Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada (GFOA) award that they had recently won for their Fiscal Year 2011 budget. That award, the GFOA's Distinguished Budget Presentation Award, was an affirmation of the good financial planning the town tries to consistently implement, he said.

“We try to work together as one corporate team,” he said of his fellow town colleagues. “We have had two budgets now without any layoffs or the need to have a Proposition 2-1/2 override.”

Northborough's Town Planner Kathy Joubert noted that town officials make it a priority to work with businesses looking to come to Northborough, as well as those already in the town and want to expand, before any actual physical work is done.

“We go through the process with them and let them know which boards they will need to meet with as well what permits they need,” she explained. “It helps businesses know what to expect and what we can expect from them.”

One of the town's biggest projects in the pipeline is the Northborough [email protected] Way, which is anticipated to open in the fall of 2011. The project, which is being built by New England Development in partnership with Brendon Properties and the Wilder Companies, will be the site of nearly 630,000 square feet of retail establishments and restaurants. To date, the construction value is $43.61 million, with permit fees bringing in $436,051. Anchor stores for the development will include the New-York-based supermarket Wegmans, BJs (which will be closing its Westborough store to move to the new Northborough location) and Kohl's.

Corderre, who noted that the Northborough Crossing was the “largest development we'se ever had,” said the town had actually entered into a “side agreement” with the developers as a way to expedite the review processes needed. Knowing that most town inspectors and boards work only part-time, agreed-upon consultants can now give approvals as needed, which not only expedites the work but saves money for all concerned as well, he said.

Other significant projects, Joubert said, include Genzyme renovations at 11 Forbes Rd., National Grid renovations at 55 Bearfoot Rd. and a full build-out for Saint Gobain at 9 Goddard Rd.

Corderre said that neither Genzyme nor Saint Gobain had asked the town for any economic incentives to stay in Northborough. Instead, he said, they just wanted to know that the town would work with them so that their renovations would go smoothly and efficiently. And that is something, Corderre said, the town was committed to doing.

There has also been much residential construction work done, Joubert said.

“We have already reached our state goal of 10 percent of affordable housing,” she said. “We are actually at about 12.5 percent, mostly because of [apartment complex] AvalonBay.”

The Corridor 9 Area Chamber of Commerce Economic Development Committee meets approximately nine times a year to discuss matters relating to its five core towns of Grafton, Northborough, Shrewsbury, Southborough and Westborough.