Gloucester EDIC Actions Address Industrial Park Issues in UMass Boston Study

=Gloucester EDIC Actions Address Industrial Park Issues in UMass Boston Study

GLOUCESTER, MA, December 09, 2019 – Occupants of Gloucester’s two major industrial parks express general satisfaction with their location, access to suppliers and services, according to a report issued by Gloucester’s Economic Development and Industrial Corporation.   The report also identified park-specific and other issues prompting the EDIC to take actions focused both on the parks and broader economic growth opportunities.  

The two industrial parks – Blackburn and Cape Ann on Kondelin Road — are home to more than 130 businesses and account for about 15 percent of Gloucester’s total workforce.  Major employers include high tech leader Applied Materials, pipe organ manufacturer C.B. Fisk, NOAA Fisheries and a number of marine and seafood companies.

Among issues and concerns identified in the survey are transportation with a focus on bridging the “last mile” for employees from the MBTA station to businesses; infrastructure, including internet capacity and roads and lighting; park appearance, especially along Kondelin Road; lack of communications within the parks; and power supply and energy efficiency.  

According to Mike DiLascio, an EDIC director, “The UMass study is a valuable roadmap for addressing issues important to economic development in the industrial parks and throughout the city.  The EDIC working with UMass Boston, the City, business partners, the Chamber of Commerce, and other organizations began implementing actions to address findings from the UMass survey as results began to emerge from early discussions and subsequent interviews.”  

As a result of the report, and other information gathered by EDIC board members on economic development issues more broadly, the EDIC has taken nearly a dozen actions including:  

  • Supporting the Cape Ann Transportation Authority’s proposal for a grant from the MA Department of Transportation to bridge the “last mile” for commuters from the MBTA station to employer locations in the industrial parks and elsewhere in the city.  The EDIC worked with major employers, the City, the City Council and the Chamber of Commerce to support the effort and is committed to participate in the matching grant requirement if the DOT approves the request.
  • Initiating a collaborative effort with National Grid to streamline energy efficiency program availability and offer additional services such as demand response, electric vehicle and emerging technologies, including those to address momentary outages that can disrupt operations.  Information will be posted on the EDIC website, distributed through mail, emails and meetings with owners and occupants of the parks. 
  • Participating, including with financial support, in the Blue Economy Initiative led by UMass Amherst’s Gloucester Marine Station in partnership with the City, the Chamber of Commerce and other academic and regional organizations. 
  • Supporting a major initiative by the City to update the Harbor Plan to reflect the “evolving economy … (and) to capitalize on new opportunities in marine research and product development.”   The EDIC will participate in meeting the matching grant requirement if the proposal is accepted by the MA Seaport Economic Council.

It is also, participating with the City to address infrastructure issues within the parks, as well as efforts to enhance internet capabilities within the city.  Additional initiatives include addressing needed upgrades to signage in the parks; establishing a series of meetings with park occupants to address ongoing issues; providing through LoopNet.com listings of commercial and industrial properties throughout the city; and joining a state-wide economic development organization, MassEcon, that promotes Massachusetts to companies beyond its borders and features sites available to expand or relocate businesses.   

In January 2019, the Gloucester EDIC engaged Dr. Antonio Raciti, Assistant Professor of Community Planning and Ecological Design in the School for the Environment at UMass Boston to assess the two industrial parks developed by the Gloucester EDIC.  Starting in March, the UMass Boston team interviewed more than two-dozen property owners and businesses.  It also conducted a focus group with representatives from both parks.   

In a letter transmitting the report to Gloucester Mayor Sefatia Romeo Theken, the EDIC noted that “these are important steps,” adding that “we also recognize that much remains to be done to support economic development in Gloucester …. the EDIC board looks forward to working with the City and other stakeholders …  consistent with its authority and responsibilities granted by the Commonwealth under Chapter 121C. This may include expansion of existing parks and involvement in other areas such as the waterfront and related marine industrial activities that may be part of an updated Harbor Plan….” 

The full report is available on the EDIC website Resources page – http://gloucesteredic.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/UMass-Final-Report_Small.pdf

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About the Gloucester EDIC

The Gloucester Economic Development and Industrial Corporation is a state-chartered corporation with authority to acquire, fund and develop land and buildings that support economic development. The EDIC works to retain existing businesses and create new economic opportunities within the City of Gloucester by (1) identifying expansion opportunities for traditional and emerging industries; (2) maximizing the economic value of assets originally developed under EDIC authority; and the (3) being an advocate for projects and policies that support job creation and economic growth.

 

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