NEW BEDFORD — City, state and federal officials celebrated the extension of the New Bedford Business Park into a 45-acre area – a $2 million, 800-foot roadway project that could bring hundreds of high-tech jobs to the park.
“We feel like we’re sort of at the end of a road to nowhere here,” said Mayor Jon Mitchell Wednesday, “but this is quite the opposite.”
“We’re here today to celebrate economic opportunity — the potential for many more jobs to be added to our park.”
The park is now home to 44 companies and 4,500 jobs, including annual sales revenue of $2 billion and combined payroll of $250 million, according to park estimates.
Tom Davis, executive director of the Greater New Bedford Industrial Foundation, said the space is surrounded by the 2,000-acre Acushnet Cedar Swamp State Reservation. It will ideally be used by a single company — with a three to eight-story building — as 500-plus jobs could be added.
“It’s our largest single contiguous lot in the park,” Davis said, “and I think it’s a beautiful campus-like setting that we plan to market to computer software companies, biotech, or medical device companies.”
“I want to make a special proactive effort for computer software companies — we don’t have any in the park.”
Companies located in the park include New Bedford household names Titleist, Aerovox and Poyant Signs, as well as the Hong Kong-based Gold Peak Industries, which leased a 65,000-square-foot facility to manufacture electric motor scooters.
Crossings for the area’s native box turtles were included in the road work, in addition to barriers to prevent the turtles from going onto the road and special stop signs cluing drivers to their presence.
Named after the late Bill Flaherty, a former chairman of the Industrial Foundation, the road was funded half by the U.S. Economic Development Administration and half by the state Transportation Department through a federal earmark.
Willie Taylor, regional director of the U.S. Economic Development Administration, said the project is expected to spur some $20 million in private investment.
“The infrastructure improvements at the business park provide the local, regional, state and state economic development practitioners with another tool to utilize and help us to retain and recruit business and industry here to New Bedford,” he said.
Already the second biggest business park in the state, Davis estimates that the park can grow to host 8,000 jobs with future development. He said some companies located along Route 128 in the Greater Boston Area are considering moving because of costs and congestion — New Bedford offers lower costs but also a local workforce with a strong work ethic.
Manufacturing wages are 33 percent lower in New Bedford than in Greater Boston parks, the park boasts, while white collar salaries are 25 to 40 percent lower.
Source: The Standard Times
By SIMÓN RIOS
November 13, 2013 1:15 PM