By Rod Lee
Helping Woonsocket Glass Fabricators (WGF) move into its 33,000-square-foot production center and showroom on Douglas Road in Whitinsville last November wasn’t the first time MassDevelopment has come to the assistance of Blackstone Valley enterprise and it probably won’t be the last.
A grand opening and ribbon cutting for the facility was held on June 24.
Just since 2011, through June of this year, Boston-based MassDevelopment has invested a total of $47,759,750 in the region, according to Margaret “Meggie” Quackenbush who is deputy communications director for the agency.
Formed in 1996 and headed by President/CEO Marty Jones, MassDevelopment financed or managed 294 projects in FY 2015 alone, generating more than $2.5 billion for the Massachusetts economy; along with that a projected 6,100 jobs and construction or rehabilitation of 2,000 residential units.
The Town of Northbridge and such ventures as Alternatives Unlimited (like WGF situated on Douglas Road) are well aware of MassDevelopment’s powerful impact on the Blackstone Valley’s economy. MassDevelopment’s backing has in fact effectively reinvigorated the Blackstone Valley’s reputation as “The Birthplace of the American Industrial Revolution.”
“MassDevelopment initiated the whole TIF with the town as well as [what it did] for WGF, which was an important piece,” Northbridge Town Manager Theodore D. “Ted” Kozak said. “The whole process with MassDevelopment, they’re always very accommodating, explaining things to us, coming to Board of Selectmen meetings. We’re all very happy.”
MassDevelopment has also stepped up for New Covenant Partners of Sutton (by way of a $441,000 brownfields remediation/site assessment loan in 2015), Apple Tree Arts of Grafton (a $250,000 cultural facilities fund grant in 2012), Horace Mann Educational Associates of Millbury (a $500,000 real estate loan in 2011 and an $800,000 mortgage insurance guarantee in 2012) and a number of others seeking financial underpinning. Whitinsville Christian School received $3 million for its library renovation in 2012. St. Camillus Institute got $7.5 million for debt refinancing and renovations that same year.
This influx of dollars has made a huge difference, Jeannie Hebert, president/CEO of the Blackstone Valley Chamber of Commerce, said.
“MassDevelopment played an integral part in financing the WGF project in Whitinsville, and made it a success story for the region, creating fifty new jobs,” Ms. Hebert said. “The funding provided by their ʽAmp It Up!’ manufacturing-focused grant awarded to the Blackstone Valley Education Foundation allows us to collaborate and grow our partnership with Blackstone Valley schools and students interested in entering the workforce. The BVCC Manufacturing Month programs in October, partially funded by this grant, connect students with manufacturers and informs them of the opportunities leading to viable and sustainable careers in the field of advanced manufacturing.”
Phil Ingersoll Mahoney, who is Alternatives’ director of administration and finance, pointed to MassDevelopment as an essential partner in the nonprofit’s growth.
“They have been a godsend,” Mr. Ingersoll Mahoney said. “They’re awesome. Vice President Roy Angel told us ʽwhatever you need’ when we received a ($6,044,850) a tax-exempt bond (for debt refinancing, in 2011) and on top of that a $2 million term loan. If we need changes as for instance to buy another house, they are always there for us.”
Chip Rogers, president of Woonsocket Glass Fabricators, had not heard or worked with MassDevelopment but said “I knew about the Rhode Island Economic Development Council, their Bill Ash. When we decided to move to Massachusetts I figured there was a similar agency there. MassDevelopment is fantastic. When Marty Jones spoke (at WGF’s grand opening) she hit the nail right on the head. I can say the same thing about MOBD (the Massachusetts Office of Business Development). MOBD’s Rosemary Scrivens (no longer with the MOBD) gave us a big hand.”
What impressed Mr. Rogers most about MassDevelopment, he said, was, “they deliver. Some agencies don’t come through on their promises. MassDevelopment did.”
Contact Rod Lee at [email protected] or 774-232-2999.