By Dakota Antelman, Managing Editor
MARLBOROUGH – Last year, the Marlborough Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) found reasons to celebrate, as well as ways to help local businesses. Now, its leaders are looking to maintain momentum and raise their city to new heights of business prominence.
Indeed, as COVID-19 shuttered many aspects of local life and severely hampered the global economy, Marlborough businesses filled 120,000 square feet of unoccupied space either through relocations or expansions in 2020. That growth brought 400 new jobs into the community, according to the MEDC’s annual report.
Earlier this year, Marlborough also celebrated the news that BJs Wholesale Club would move its corporate headquarters to the city, bringing with it 800 jobs.
“Despite all of the challenges of last year, we were excited to see that there was some positive movement in the business sector,” Executive Director Meredith Harris said.
Leading the charge through 2020 were companies like Cytiva and Sartorius, which both opened major facilities in the city.
Settling into Marlborough, those are new editions to a growing “cluster” of life science companies the MEDC is trying to build, Harris said.
“Those types of companies like to be near each other,” she added. “…So, we’re hopeful that it will continue to grow, and we’re just really trying to push ourselves to be able to react to it and welcome those types of folks with open arms.”
The MEDC has also spent time working with Marlborough’s small businesses during the pandemic.
They welcomed Word on the Street, Sugar Heaven and Jenny’s Place which all opened in the midst of last year’s challenging fiscal climate..
They also doled out $130,000 in grants to 33 small businesses to pay for PPE, reopening costs, retrofits, and other products like hand sanitizer. That program specifically aided local restaurants, which bore major costs when they had to develop outdoor dining rooms to accommodate pandemic restrictions and guidelines.
“There was a very difficult time where restaurants were struggling,” Harris said. “…We were able to really [with] boots on the ground, get out there and help.”
Moving forward, as downtown hums back to life, the MEDC is turning some attention back to that life science cluster.
They’re seeking to promote Marlborough as a destination for similar companies, offering housing and entertainment amenities to attract and retain quality employees.
Likewise, they’re reviving in-person events, like their annual job fair and a downtown food truck festival, while staying the course on expanded multimedia communications efforts such as a video newsletter and a podcast.
The MEDC also expects to bring back commuter shuttle service in Marlborough later this year.
“We’re trying to think about when’s the right time [for that],” Harris said.
Learn more about the MEDC through their website at marlboroughedc.com