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By Steven Froias / Contributing Writer
Beginning in 2010, something remarkable began happening in the City of New Bedford. New business start-ups outpaced the state average here and reached a plateau in 2015 that maintained itself for the next five years. On average, 85-100 businesses of all manner and size opened each year in New Bedford over the course of ten years.
That trend was on track to continue right into 2020 – and then the Covid-19 pandemic hit.
As is the case throughout the country, predicting what happens during the coming year, after an economic shutdown and while the novel coronavirus still seethes while more effective treatment is found or a vaccine is discovered, will be difficult.
However, during the past decade, the New Bedford Economic Development Council (NBEDC) has had a front-row seat witnessing this period of extraordinary growth and innovation in New Bedford. Indeed, it has been the organization’s mission and privilege to help facilitate this profound change of fortunes in the city and for the region by building policy consensus, forging strategic partnerships, providing critical lending opportunities, and promoting long-term growth potential through a variety of initiatives.
During the current combined health and economic crisis, we’re now seeing the result of years of crucial investment in New Bedford’s economic foundation pay off as businesses small and large seize the culture of creativity that engineered this noteworthy period of growth – and employ it to confront the current challenge. They are moving forward building better in ways that offer a promising outlook once Covid-19 is history.
For example, Arthur Glassman of Glassman Automotive Repair and Sales probably didn’t imagine that he would soon be celebrating 30 years of business as a brick and mortar service center in the city while confronting a pandemic. Yet he is tackling the challenge head-on.
He says that during the first weeks of the total economic shutdown in Massachusetts business came to a screeching halt. But Glassman Automotive used the time to “regroup, reorganize, and basically do the things we had always planned to do but had not got around to doing,” he says.
As an essential business, they remained open – and quickly saw business rebound. The way they were conducting that business had changed, however.
They stocked up from vendors after arranging for contact-less delivery. They installed a dropbox for check and key drop-offs and began taking credit card payments over the phone. They launched a policy called “get in and go” whereby customers would just arrive at a parking space, find the keys in their newly-serviced car, and just drive off the lot with it.
“After 30 years, our customers are friends,” Arthur Glassman says. “They’re happy we are looking after their safety.” As a consequence, business, he says, is now good.
Anne Broholm, CEO of AHEAD LLC, had a different challenge to meet. As a leader of a world-recognized manufacturer of quality headwear, apparel and accessories in New Bedford’s Industrial Park, she realized that ensuring her workforce was ready to safely and effectively return to work after the shutdown was the goal AHEAD had to set for itself.
“AHEAD, like most companies, took a significant hit due to COVID-19 and the implications of the shutdown and overall slowing of the economy,” she states. Like Glassman, the initial shutdown provided time to plot a strategy – and AHEAD’s also involved speeding up plans that had already been part of the company’s long-term strategy.
Broholm writes, “One of the best measures we took was to effectively utilize the workshare program through MA unemployment. This allowed us to return more employees total on a 32 vs. 40-hour workweek once we reopened. In my opinion, it is an underutilized but extremely valuable program.”
“We also continue to aggressively cross-train within the company – this was already an ongoing initiative prior to COVID and we have taken it a step further since reopening. We want to ensure that we have work for everyone at all times and the best way to do that is to ensure that our associates have the skills to do whatever task is needed most at any given time.”
Formulating and enacting innovative programs for the future is nothing new for Anne Broholm. Indeed, she is a member of the NBEDC’s Regeneration Project – a collaborative platform that focuses on research, engagement, and the development of policies that encourage dynamic and sustainable economic growth for a thriving New Bedford.
In addition to protecting their associates’ employment, protecting their health is a top priority, says Broholm. “We have and continue to take all necessary measures to ensure a safe work environment. Our goal has and continues to be to focus on any/all actions we can take to rebuild the company and return to a position of growth. We work every day to identify the takeaways from this challenge that can make AHEAD be even stronger in the future,” she concludes.
Finally, few businesses face the challenges that New Bedford’s many and beloved independent restaurants face.
Jessica Coelho, owner of Tia Maria’s European Cafe in the downtown historic district, recognized this reality early – and faced it head-on by moving decisively. This, too, entailed putting into action some ideas that previously been discussed, but were now imperative to keep the business firing on all burners.
Coelho realized the eatery would have to “drive” take out and, essentially overnight, put in place the infrastructure to make that happen efficiently. “My husband is in the military,” she explains, “so he’s been trained to adapt to change!”
They and her crew quickly created an online ordering platform on tiamariaseuropeancafe.com, and instituted a customer-friendly curbside pick-up service – a challenge for a business in a historic district with no parking lot and limited street frontage.
“I thought about the businesses along Acushnet Avenue,” Jessica says, “And realized they had the same challenge regarding limited parking and curbside to work with.”
Her answer was to designate a dedicated pick-up spot for customers near the restaurant and then promote it vigorously via Tia Maria’s social media. And, it paid off.
“We discovered that curbside take-out was so easy!” she says. “We kind of owned the block!”
Coelho also made sure she was part of the City of New Bedford’s restaurant reopening group launched by the Planning Department, from where she could help formulate outdoor dining policy and eventual indoor reopening plans. It was “very beneficial to be part of the restaurant reopening group,” she says. “It allowed us to open for outdoor dining quickly.”
Tia Maria’s was also part of a program funded by Harvard Pilgrim, coordinated by Coastal Foodshed, which arranged for restaurants to provide meals for seniors.
“That was important to us,” Coehlo says – and not just because it was a financial shot in the arm during the early days of the pandemic. “We didn’t just want to be ‘those people who stayed open during a pandemic.’ We needed a purpose and this gave it to us.” As of mid-July, Tia Maria’s and fellow downtown business Destination Soups have provided over 1,200 meals for seniors through the program.
Like Arthur Glassman and Anne Broholm, Jessica Coehlo says the innovations with which she met the onset of the pandemic will outlive it. Online ordering and curbside pick-up in a historic district, like contact-less vehicle pick-up and cross-training at AHEAD, are ideas that are here to stay.
Though each and other new practices at these businesses were launched to meet a particular moment, they were truly born in a foundation of growth and opportunity that was and is the new bedrock of innovation in this city. While the immediate economic outlook will test the resilience of New Bedford, this culture of regeneration augurs well for the future.
The New Bedford Economic Development Council is pleased to share the stories of Arthur Glassman, Anne Boholm and Jessica Coelho with you as part of the city’s culture of collaboration. It is what will help see us through the present time and into the future. As always, the NBEDC stands ready to provide any assistance necessary to realize that future, and together we will ride out this storm and maintain the reputation New Bedford has worked so hard to earn over the past decade as a regional economic, creative and social hub for Southeastern Massachusetts.
NEW BEDFORD — Plumbers’ Supply Company’s $18 million distribution facility and corporate headquarters in the New Bedford Business Park is officially operational.
The company held a ribbon-cutting ceremony at their new 175,000 square foot building on Thursday as part of the Greater New Bedford Industrial Foundation’s annual meeting.
The building is comprised of 20,000 square feet of office/training space and 155,000 square feet of warehouse space, according to Kevin Jones, who owns the company with other members of his family.
Jones said constructing the new building “was by far the largest undertaking in the history of our company.”
“This facility here is twice the size of our previous headquarters and should allow our company to add additional branches in the state which in turn we think will transfer to more good jobs in New Bedford,” Jones said.
Currently their facility will house 45 employees between their warehouse team and those working in the office, according to Jones.
The company has 20 locations — 17 wholesale and three kitchen and bath centers — in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire.
A news release sent out by the city of New Bedford in advance of the ribbon-cutting described Plumbers’ Supply as a “New Bedford-based, family-owned plumbing, heating, and HVAC distribution business that was founded in New Bedford in the late 1800s.”
Mayor Jon Mitchell noted the company’s long history with the city at Thursday’s event. “I want to congratulate and thank the Jones family for investing in New Bedford and reinvesting in New Bedford. It’s a really great legacy going all the way back to the 1880s as Plumbers’ Supply and the Jones family since..the early 70s or so.”
“If business is good to New Bedford, New Bedford will be good to you in the long run in ways that you might not anticipate,” Mitchell added.
Jones specifically thanked the City Council and Mayor Jon Mitchell for “the approval of the TIF which was essential in making this project a reality.”
TIF stands for Tax Increment Financing and the New Bedford Economic Development Council describes it on their website as a program where “participating companies receive favorable state and local tax treatment in exchange for job creation and commitments for private investment.”
Members of the New Bedford Economic Council and the Greater New Bedford Industrial Foundation were present at the ribbon-cutting and they highlighted the fact that 41 businesses are located in the business park and the arrival of Plumbers’ Supply only leaves them with one lot left to fill, which they’re already in negotiations to do.
“The city of New Bedford is prepared to support business expansion,” Mitchell said. “We want you to succeed.”
The Jones family wants to do just that. “We’re hoping to welcome you back in a few years for our expansion,” Jones said.
Orginal story here
NORWOOD, Mass., Aug. 22, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — MariMed Inc. (OTCQX: MRMD), a premier cannabis and hemp multi-state operator focused on health and wellness, has received a certificate of occupancy from the city of New Bedford, Massachusetts for its new cannabis cultivation and manufacturing facility.
“ARL Healthcare, our Massachusetts cannabis licensed subsidiary, will now schedule its final state inspection to be cleared to commence full operations of its cultivation, production and dispensary,” said Bob Fireman, MariMed’s CEO. “The state inspection will also include our completed 10,000 sf dispensary located in Middleborough, Massachusetts.”
The New Bedford manufacturing facility is part of a 137,000 sf building situated on 17 acres providing for future growth and expansion. This state-of-the-art cannabis production facility will open with 34,000 sf of canopy growing space, which will be processed in its GMP standard production laboratory and commercial kitchen.
ARL Healthcare has already run local job fairs and commenced hiring and training some top individuals both in New Bedford and Middleborough, as part of its commitment to these municipalities. It intends to create over 100 new jobs in total in Massachusetts.
MariMed will be introducing into the Massachusetts marketplace its top brands and products that have had great success in other state facilities under its management. This will include its flower brand Nature’s Heritage™ with its proprietary genetics and strains; its infused product brands Betty’s Eddies™, and Kalm Fusion™; and its exclusive licensed brands “The Healer,” “Binske,” “Tikun Olam,” “Lucid Moods,” “Dab Tabs” and others. These products will be made in the New Bedford facility and will be sold through company dispensaries as well as distributed to the wholesale market.
“We are delighted to be entering into the Massachusetts market with its current shortage of supply,” noted Fireman. “ARL Healthcare is now a wholly owned subsidiary, as we work towards completing the consolidation of our managed licensed clients in multiple states. As such, the revenue from this operation will be reflected in our public company results.”
ARL Healthcare under its RMD license, has three permits for dispensaries in Massachusetts. Middleborough will be first to open with the other two currently in the implementation process. The company intends to become one of the largest wholesale producers in Massachusetts to support both the medical and adult use markets and is positioned for great success in Massachusetts.
MariMed, a multi-state cannabis operator, is dedicated to improving the health and wellness of people through the use of cannabinoids and cannabis products. The company develops, owns and manages seed to sale state licensed cannabis facilities which are models of excellence in horticultural principles, cannabis cultivation, cannabis infused products and dispensary operations. MariMed has an experienced management team that has produced consistent growth and success for the company and its managed business units.
The company is at the forefront of science and innovation through research developed by its lab technicians and medical advisors resulting in industry leading products and brands, including “Kalm Fusion” and “Betty’s Eddies.” These precision dosed products are focused on specific medical symptoms which are licensed and distributed across the country.
In 2019, with the enactment of the 2018 US Farm Bill, MariMed formed MariMed Hemp, a wholly owned subsidiary, to leverage its seed to sale cannabis platform and experience into the emerging hemp-based CBD industry. The company acquired a significant stake in Kentucky-based GenCanna Global, a national and international leading cultivator, producer, and distributer of hemp and GMP quality CBD oils and isolates. With this strategic relationship, MariMed Hemp has developed and is marketing a portfolio of CBD brands and products to multiple retailers and direct to consumers both domestically and internationally. MariMed Hemp recently launched its Hemp Engine™ store-within-a-store distribution platform for retailers. It is also actively pursuing other hemp industry business opportunities with genetics, farming, biomass, and new and innovative technologies.
For additional information, visit marimedinc.com.
Original story here.
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A New Bedford-based employer will receive over $114,000 to provide training to over 100 workers and establish new positions by 2021.
Senator Mark Montigny (D-New Bedford) announced Wednesday that Ahead USA, of New Bedford, will receive over $114,000 in workforce training funds from the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development. The grant totaling $114,800 will provide training to approximately 121 workers and help create a number of new positions by 2021.
“These grants provide the funding necessary for invaluable training of our local workforce. Such investments in our community allow New Bedford companies to flourish and remain competitive in the marketplace while creating new employment opportunities,” said Montigny.
AHEAD is a leading supplier of headwear to the USGA, PGA of America, Ryder Cup, and numerous PGA Tour events in addition to more than 5,000 green grass and resort shops throughout the world. AHEAD will use the grant to educate and train 112 of its employees.
In 1998 the legislature created the Workforce Training Fund to provide resources to businesses and job creators in Massachusetts to educate and train current and newly hired employees. The resources provided through the legislature boost economic competitiveness and generate job opportunities for residents. To date, thousands of workers and hundreds of business in the Commonwealth have benefitted from the Workforce Training Fund.
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NEW BEDFORD — Plumbers’ Supply’s footprint in the city is growing.
Motorists entering New Bedford from the north at night undoubtedly spot the neon glare of water spouting out of the faucet on the front of the Plumbers’ Supply store.
Further south on Water Street, the 19th Century version of Plumbers’ Supply is now apartments. In the North End, its warehouse is located on Church Street.
By the end of next summer a new 175,000 square foot building will be completed in the Far North End Business Park.
Mayor Jon Mitchell toured the construction site on Wednesday.
“For us, we have a lot of great employees and we didn’t want to stray too far,” co-owner Brian Jones said. “So when this opportunity came along, it’s a five minute commute. We don’t expect to lose an employee, that certainly appealed to us.”
In fact, the move and expansion should lead to the creation of at least seven jobs, Jones said.
“Our hope is we blow past that,” Jones said.
Plumbers’ Supply’s current warehouse measures 85,000 square feet with ceilings 16 feet high. The new warehouse will encompass about 155,000 square feet with about 30-foot ceilings. The remaining 20,000 square feet will be used for its corporate headquarters, which is already located in New Bedford.
“We want make use of every square inch of this park,” Mitchell said. ”… All this effort is about keeping and growing jobs but also fully utilizing what we have. New Bedford is fairly land constrained.”
Every parcel in the business park is either built on, under construction or under agreement, Mitchell said. The Plumbers’ Supply plot is the largest in the industrial park at 45 acres. Currently, the $18 million project is the third largest facility in the park. However, the company could potentially expand the warehouse to 300,000 square feet, which would be by far the largest, Derek Santos, executive director of the Economic Development Council, said.
“This gives us more than enough than we need in the near term,” Jones said.
Jones’ uncle, Jay, took ownership of the company in April 1977. More than 40 years later, Jay’s brother, his son, and three nephews are a part of Plumbers’ Supply. Development for the move to the far North End began in September of 2017. Ground broke earlier this summer.
“The city has been great to us,” Brian Jones said. “It’s three generations strong.”
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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.
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.
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.
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Original story here.
Posted May 18, 2017 at 2:18 PM
By Michael Bonner / firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
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