WESTBOROUGH – What do ice cream, toys, shelves, battery recycling and boba tea have in common?
They are among the products made by local businesses honored by the Westborough Economic Development Committee on April 28 at the Forbes Municipal Building.
The awards were part of the EDC’s eighth annual Year in Review, a celebration of the local business scene.
“This is a fantastic time to do business in Westborough,” said Todd Alexander, the committee’s chairperson.
Keynote speaker Yvonne Hao, the secretary of economic development for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, also lauded the overall strength of the state’s economy, but she said, “We have work to do.”
Hao cited the costs and availability of housing, the cost of transportation and the need to bring manufacturing back to Massachusetts as among the challenges that need to be addressed.
“We’re the victim of our own success,” said Hao. “We’re 200,000 [housing] units short … we have to rethink how we do housing.”
To that end, she said that a formal economic plan is in the works, and it should be ready for presentation before the end of the year.
Hao also talked about Article 87, which would create a cabinet-level office for housing. That way, she said, she could focus more on the state’s economic development, with a focus on agricultural and rural development; small and minority-owned businesses; and economic strategies to deal with workforce development.
The award winners
The winner of the new development project was Rakks, which is a manufacturer of architectural shelving and hardware. Rakks took over space on Turnpike Road that once housed R.G. Shakour.
The new small business winner was PlayNow!, which is a family-operated toy store on Lyman Street. The winner of new downtown business was Cha Cha N Beans on West Main Street.
The winner of the innovation award was Ascend Elements. They have two plants on Flanders Road and recycle lithium-ion battery materials into materials for EV batteries.
Meanwhile, the civic pride winner was the nonprofit Westborough Connects.
The hall of fame award went to Uhlman’s Ice Cream, a town institution since 1969.
Each honoree received an award and citations from the state House and Senate.
Year in Review
Zach Boughner, the town’s economic development coordinator, presented some of the highlights from the past year, including the Shop Westborough, holiday passport and outdoor dining initiatives.
He also talked about the upcoming pop-up program, which will allow vendors to set up a temporary shop at vacant storefronts. He said the first pop-up program will appear in a couple of weeks.
For information about the EDC, visit edc.town.westborough.ma.us.