New Bedford makes its pitch to impress, attract Amazon

Calling New Bedford “a city unlike any other” with its proud past and bright future, officials submitted a 40-page proposal to Amazon, as the e-commerce giant seeks a location to construct a second world headquarters.

While the state included New Bedford as one of 26 Massachusetts communities in its formal proposal to Amazon, the city also independently submitted its pitch to build the headquarters on property at the municipal golf course on Hathaway Road.

The prize is huge: a million square foot facility and 50,000 well-paying jobs — enough to transform the economy of wherever Amazon decides to place it.

“New Bedford’s come a long way in the last few years,” said Mayor Jon Mitchell. “And we’ve reached a point where we can — with a straight face — make this kind of pitch to the likes of Amazon. It’s not to say we’re the odds on favorite, but we can make a play for this with credibility.”

It was in May that the city teamed up with Mass Development to divide the golf course property and create a 1.3 million square foot commercial development that would bring an estimated 1,000 jobs, well short of what Amazon expects to create. The rest of the land would become a nine-hole golf course; the course currently has 18 holes.

In June, Jay Ash, the state’s housing and economic development secretary, visited the course and called it a “no-brainer” for economic development because it’s one of the few greenfields left in the state.

Ash declared that there are only two other sites with the potential that New Bedford’s has, given the easy access to highways, rail and an airport: a former Naval air base in Weymouth and vacant space across from Gillette Stadium in Foxboro. Both are included with the state’s bid.

In its proposal, the state writes that the New Bedford site has the potential for a 9.5 million-square-foot build-out. It also notes the site is 18 miles from the Middleboro Line for the MBTA, 58 miles from Logan International Airport and 37 miles from TF Green airport.

 “The historic city of New Bedford is the SouthCoast’s hot spot for dining and the arts, while retaining its authentic character as the nation’s largest fishing port,” the state wrote in its bid.

In the city’s bid, New Bedford is touted as a home to a “hard-working, innovative, entrepreneurial and creative” work force.

“As a city of immigrants, we have drawn from the best that the world offers. As a city of ideas, New Bedford is the place where you can walk the same streets as Herman Melville and Frederick Douglass,” the bid reads.

“As a city of culture, New Bedford is the place where you can have a great seat to Yo-Yo Ma, the B-52s and a Bob Woodward lecture. And as a city of innovation, we transformed the whaling industry and are leaders in establishing the first American port to incorporate the offshore wind industry into the mix with fishing and cargo.”

Rick Kidder, president and CEO of the SouthCoast Chamber of Commerce, sounded calm and confident Friday that the city’s application could be a winner.

“Having been around the world of corporate relocations I have never seen a process like Amazon is going through,” he told The Standard-Times.

Kidder said there is much here to offer. “I believe we have things going for us,” including the use of the golf course land, transportation routes including an airport, quality of life and reasonable housing.

The application included a reference to Entrepreneurship For All, a group that helps SouthCoast startups and entrepreneurs. The document lists it as a “innovation asset,” noting that “Seventy-three percent of E4All’s startups are headed by women, 57 percent by minorities and 52 percent by immigrants.”

Shelley Cardoos, executive director of EforAll SouthCoast, said Friday she had not heard that her organization was hailed in the Amazon application.

But she said she was happy to know that EforAll, just two years old in SouthCoast, had made an impression worth mentioning. “I’m glad our efforts and impact are being recognized for creating jobs and dollars,” she said.

The city also touted the lower cost of housing along with access to schools and recreational opportunities in this area.

In August, the median sale price for a home in the state was $372,500, while it was $200,000 in New Bedford. The city also boasts historic neighborhoods that provide “a variety of housing types,” the proposal said.

The proposal also notes:

“New Bedford High School offers academy learning, featuring engineering and finance, and it offers 19 Advanced Placement courses. The high school also has a history of graduates attending elite universities.”

“The city’s first open space was created in the 1860s, and the city hasn’t stopped — 6 parks, 24 neighborhood parks, more than 12 miles of trails and bikeways, 26 acres of beaches, etc.”

New Bedford officials also outlined to Amazon the city’s tax increment financing (TIF) program, which supplies exclusive breaks for coming to a Gateway City, and the “unique tax abatement” of a foreign trade zone.

In addition to New Bedford, others in the area making a pitch to Amazon include Fall River and Taunton. Fall River has 501 acres available with its Riverfront Park and SouthCoast Life Science & Technology Park. Taunton has 146 acres at the Silver City Galleria Mall.

READ NEW BEDFORD’S COMPLETE PITCH FOR AMAZON’S HQ2

 

 

 

Milhench Supply celebrates 85 years in New Bedford

State official calls new business park at Whaling City Golf Course ‘a no-brainer’

Posted Jun 13, 2017 at 7:03 PM
Updated Jun 13, 2017 at 10:18 PM

NEW BEDFORD — Jay Ash, the state’s housing and economic development secretary, looked out Tuesday upon the driving range at Whaling City Golf Course. He squinted to see the farthest distance marker at 265 yards.

“How many tries to hit it that far?” the imposing secretary nearing 7-feet tall said to those touring the course.

All kidding aside, the conversation quickly transitioned from golf to business opportunity, which appeared more feasible than a 265-yard drive.

“This is as close to a no-brainer as you can get,” Ash said.

Last month, Mayor Jon Mitchell announced an agreement between the city and MassDevelopment to convert a 100-acre section of the golf course into a business park that could create at least 1,000 jobs.

Ash could think of only two other sites in the state that have as much job-growth potential, are within a city and are near highways, rail and an airport: A former Naval airbase in Weymouth and vacant space across from Gillette Stadium in Foxboro.

“When the mayor first talked about this, some of the members of the legislative delegation thought, ‘Boy, this would be an awesome opportunity,’” Ash said. “It fits right into what our program is.”

When Gov. Charlie Baker came into office in 2015, he looked to Ash to promote a new state program geared at finding “shovel-ready development sites” that can spark job growth.

“I’m not aware of anything this south and attached to a city,” Ash said. “We’re seeing a great deal of investments come back to cities. New Bedford has benefited from that.”

However, the secretary said a business park in the golf course is far from a done deal. Mitchell and New Bedford Economic Development Council’s executive director Derek Santos agreed.

At the city level, public discussions need to be hosted. Plans need to be revisited. Land needs to be surveyed.

At the state level, Ash said there’s a need to understand what’s in the ground, the topography and speak with the private sector.

“It doesn’t happen overnight, so let’s not kid ourselves,” Ash said. “There’s still a lot of work to be done. You can’t get to develop a million square feet if you don’t have a site.”

From the golf course, Ash met with Mitchell to speak to investors and developers regarding other vacant space within the city.

Developers received informational packets and took tours of downtown and the mills in the South End.

“I think there’s tremendous opportunity in the city. It was really a great presentation,” said Rich Relich, who toured the city as part of Arch Community, a real estate developer.

Ash echoed those thoughts.

His job requires him to tour the state and at each function someone asks, “Where’s the next place to take off?”

“New Bedford is in that conversation,” Ash said.

Follow Michael Bonner on Twitter @MikeBBonnerSCT.

Original story here.

New Bedford’s plan for business park include 1,000 jobs, 9-hole golf course

Posted May 18, 2017 at 2:18 PM

By Michael Bonner / mbonner@s-t.com

NEW BEDFORD — “A lot of work” still needs to be done before the city can transform part of the Whaling City Golf Course into a business park, the mayor said Thursday.

“It’s not a done deal,” Mayor Jon Mitchell said at an afternoon news conference. “There’s still a number of questions that have to be sorted through.”

The city and MassDevelopment plan to convert a 100-acre section of the golf course into a 1.3 million-square-foot commercial site that could create at least 1,000 jobs. The golf course would downsize to a 9-hole course, which was its original size in 1920.

The city targeted the course because of its sufficient acreage and access to highways, rails and airport.

The biggest hurdle to the project could be Article 97, which protects municipally held green space. Legislation is needed when working on protected land. However, Mitchell said only a portion of the golf course falls under Article 97 protection.

“The part that we’re building on is not protected park land,” Mitchell said.

State Rep. Chris Markey called the announcement “bittersweet” as he reminisced about playing all 18 holes as a child.

“I’m certain there are many other people who have great memories of being able to play golf at a cheap rate in the city,” he said. “…You need to make sure you take every opportunity as the mayor said and take advantage of every asset you have.”

Some residents in attendance voiced displeasure with the plans because the city would lose a green space. Those concerns reached the state level, too.

“It will be incumbent upon the city, but I will strongly suggest a very public process,” Sen. Mark Montigny said.

With proper public vetting, the New Bedford native backed the idea.

“When you look at the positive aspects, I think it has the potential to be a major job creator,” Montigny said.

The park could produce $2 million annually in property tax.

“Let me tell you, New Bedford needs to increase its tax base,” Markey said. “It has to. It cannot survive without that. It will never survive without that. The opportunity that this avails the city and the people of New Bedford is incredible.”

The projected cost for the project is $12 million. Funding, in part, is expected to come from land sales and state and federal funding. MassDevelopment announced a $300,000 grant during the press conference.

The city plans to convey the land to MassDevelopment based on sharing the net proceeds at completion.

MassDevelopment would inherit the cost for demolishing the clubhouse and the redesign of the course. The city would be responsible for constructing a new clubhouse.

The course would remain open through the project. Mitchell suggested the earliest any ground may be broken on the project would be in 2019.

“There’s a lot of work that needs to be done,” Mitchell said.

Original Story Here:

New Bedford firm applauded for contributions to SouthCoast economy

By

Tucked away in a wooded corner of the New Bedford Industrial Park is the gleaming three-story headquarters of HTP Inc., maker of advanced heating and hot water systems.

With two manufacturing plants on Braley Road in East Freetown, HTP has 235 employees and counting. For its contribution to the economy of SouthCoast and the state as a whole, HTP is one of 18 finalists in an awards competition sponsored by MassEcon, the results of which will be announced in October. MassEcon, a nonprofit, private organization, is the state’s partner in economic development.

The Standard-Times sat down recently with HTP President David R. Martin:

How old is this business?

HTP was formed in 1974, so it’s relatively new.

What do you produce?

We produce high-efficiency boilers and water heaters and solar thermal equipment.

Is it a hot market right now?

Yeah, it’s pretty good. What we see is that the market continues to shift to more and more high efficiency. The other part that goes with it is high-efficiency products are also very good for the environment from the standpoint of very low greenhouse gas emissions.

So they use very little fuel and the fuel that they use they burn very efficiently.

How many employees do you have here?

We have about 235.

At some point you made a commitment to buy this building and expand the workforce in different stages. That represents quite a commitment to SouthCoast Massachusetts, doesn’t it?

Very much so.

Can you tell me what went into that decision?

Well we’re a second-generation family-owned company and this area of the country is really kind of known for hydronics. Hydronics means heating with water, and that’s a big part of what we do with the boilers. And we wanted to stay close to our manufacturing facilities in East Freetown. As we were looking for a place to expand because we needed to, we were very fortunate that this building in the New Bedford Industrial Park was for sale and was actually the closest large building that was available so it worked out very nice for us.

In this competition you’re a finalist and now you’re waiting for the results next month, I take it.

That’s correct.

They asked you to make a one-minute presentation. Can I hear it?

(Laughs) Unfortunately, I wasn’t the one who made the presentation. I was out of town and the person who made the presentation is on vacation in Mexico.

The citation here says ‘heating and hot water manufacturer that invested more than $4 million in a 77,000-square-foot expansion in New Bedford and added 16 jobs.’

This is the facility they’re talking about and in addition to that we added a total of 60 jobs. Out of that 60, 14 were here.

So what is next? Where is this company headed?

Onward and upward! Were having a record year this year and were continuing to grow. And the nice thing about the headquarters here is that we have room to grow from customer service, technical service, engineering, sales and marketing staff. We’ve added a second shift to our operations in our plants and we continue to add significant capital investments to make that facility more efficient and effective, so we’ve increased our capacity to produce to meet growing demand.

Do you get asked by other prospective companies that are thinking about moving to Greater New Bedford what is the story here, how will I be treated, what is the business atmosphere in this part of the world?

Yeah, a little bit. People generally, if they’re not from here, they’re kind of amazed that there’s manufacturing still in Massachusetts. We tell them that ‘yes, it is.’ We’ve been wonderfully treated by the City of New Bedford the Economic Development Council. I just came from a meeting among the Greater New Bedford Workforce Investment Board. So it’s a really good, really great, business climate, very encouraging and attuned to the needs of manufacturers to provide good jobs for the citizens.

Are there any plans to expand the product line in some way?

We are. We continue to look to kind of grow our range from boilers for example to go into larger and larger sizes, commercial and industrial sizes.

Is this a crowded field that you’re in or do you have the playing field mostly to yourself?

(Laughs) It is crowded. We have no shortage of competitors. It’s kind of interesting. On the hydronic heat side, there’s probably 30-plus competitors. On the water heating side, there’s fewer. And so were an interesting company that really serves both markets well. Usually a company might do one or the other, but not do both. Water heating has been a big area for growth for us.

Follow Steve Urbon on Twitter @SteveUrbonSCT.