By Kevin Rudden
Recognizing that it needs to boost the number of businesses in town to achieve a better residential-to-business property tax ratio, the Town of Mendon is now making a focused effort to let small businesses know they are welcome to locate in the 350- year-old community.
Attracting business is a principal focus of the Board of Selectmen, says Chairman Christopher Burke, who points to the recent creation of an Economic Development Committee as a major step in that direction. Already, that committee is identifying the obstacles preventing small businesses from coming to Mendon, making a database of all available parcels of commercially zoned land and focusing on what types of small businesses the town will welcome, Burke says.
Mendon lies at the southeastern end of the Blackstone Valley and has two main commercial zones: the Route 16 corridor running from Uxbridge to Hopedale and the Route 140 corridor running from Bellingham to Hopedale. Almost the entire town has no public water or sewer, relying on individual wells and septic systems. Currently, the town’s tax base is 88% residential and 12% commercial/industrial/personal property.
“We’re trying to adjust that so we have more commercial revenue coming into the town so it will lighten the residential tax bills,” Burke says.
The idea of being “Open for Business” was the theme of a breakfast meeting held by the Economic Development Committee last October, explains Chair Thomas Merolli, who is the town’s assistant treasurer/tax collector. The breakfast event was designed to be a venue for businesses already in town to get together with local and state officials. Among the agencies present were the Massachusetts Growth Capital Corporation – which offers financial technical assistance to small businesses; MassDevelopment – which provides financing and real estate assistance; the Central Massachusetts Regional Planning Commission (CRMPC); and, the Blackstone Valley Chamber of Commerce. State Representative Brian Murray (D-Milford) also attended.
“It was a great meeting,” Burke says. He and Merolli add that the event offered local business the opportunity to share their concerns with the various state agencies. Merolli says his six-member committee plans to hold more such events in 2018, each focused on an issue facing small businesses.
The committee also is working with the CRMPC to complete the town’s Master Plan and is looking at having the regional planning agency perform an economic development study for the town. The committee’s goal is to act as the contact point for small businesses that want to locate in Mendon, Merolli says.
Several new businesses recently opened—or are about to open—in Mendon: The Muffin House Cafe – based in Medway—opened a second location on Hastings Street (Route 16) last year. GASCO Auto Service relocated its auto repair business from Milford to a lot next to its gas station on Cape Road (Route 140) and is in the process of opening a car wash next to the auto repair shop. And, Braza Construction Company plans to break ground by spring for a new headquarters on Cape Road that will relocate and consolidate its current operations in Milford and Upton.