Haverhill’s Assistant Director of Economic Development Nate Robertson receives the grant from Lt. Governor Polito (center) and MassDevelopment President Lauren Liss. (Courtesy photograph)
Plans to revisit a 35-year-old idea to expand industrial development along route 97 at the Broadway industrial park received a boost Friday when the Baker administration awarded Haverhill $50,000 for planning.
Nearly $2.5 million in a second round of what the state calls its “Site Readiness Program” was announced by Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito during an event at Shrewsbury Town Hall. Haverhill received one of 12 grants designed to pay for financial feasibility studies, master planning, environmental work and site improvements. In his inaugural address last month, Mayor James J. Fiorentini expressed his desire to develop a new business park to grow the city’s commercial-industrial tax base and bring more high-paying jobs to the area.
“To build the Haverhill of the future, one of the things we have to do is increase space in the city for business expansion,” Fiorentini said. “Identifying the best locations and laying the groundwork for a new industrial park is the first step, and this money from the Baker-Polito Administration will help us in the early planning stages of such a project.”
Wang Labs Was First to Launch ‘Technology Park’
The site is currently in private hands, but the intersection at Computer Drive and Broadway near Interstate 495 was designed for additional development, said Economic Development Director William Pillsbury.
The Broadway park was originally developed by and for now-defunct Wang Laboratories in 1983. The computer-maker’s Haverhill plans advanced when the federal government awarded the city a $2 million Urban Development Action Grant. The year before, then-Haverhill Mayor William H. Ryan’s administration received an $800,000 state transportation grant to build the access road.
Wang described itself as the leader of computer-based office automation systems. However, unable to compete against similar, but lower cost IBM personal computers, the company filed for bankruptcy protection in August 1992.
The northern technology park eventually came to house retail stores including Target and Lowe’s Home Improvement. The latter has since closed and was replaced by Southwick, manufacturer of Brooks Brothers suits.
“The Site Readiness Program is an important, forward-thinking economic development tool that provides cities and towns with funding to plan for their future growth,” said Housing and Economic Development Secretary Jay Ash. “These grants will help pave the way for industrial and business development, bringing new jobs and increased tax revenues to our cities and towns.”