Efforts to promote the N-Squared Innovation District as a suburban innovation hub have taken another leap forward with the successful completion of a fundraising campaign that will provide for the hiring of a full-time director and the creation of a new graphical identity and marketing campaign.
The Newton-Needham Regional Chamber raised $336,060 — exceeding the expected goal of $325,000. The funding will sustain the N-Squared initiative for the next two years, helping it establish its position as a key destination for innovation.
The chamber also named Chuck Tanowitz as its first full-time director to lead the organization’s efforts.
“We’re extremely grateful to the businesses, property owners, educational intuitions and other non-profits who have demonstrated confidence in this economic development endeavor through their financial contributions,” said Chamber President Greg Reibman. “We are also deeply appreciative of our partnership with our municipal leaders in Newton and Needham.
“Now we are poised to launch an effort marking the region to employers and entrepreneurs and to create more programs and events for those who already work and live here,” Reibman said.
Reibman said the project “could not be in better hands” with Tanowitz, who had previously served as N-Squared’s acting director and is now in the position full time.
“Chuck has been part of this endeavor as a member of our original steering committee since we first undertook this project,” Reibman said. “He comes to us following a long, successful career in marketing and has a passion for growing innovation and community building.”
Tanowitz joins the N-Squared Innovation District from Eric Mower + Associates, a national branding firm, where he served as vice president in the company’s Boston office. There he helped such brands as Greentown Labs earn coverage from local and national media. He previously founded Fresh Ground, an agency focused on helping to market and promote rising startups. Tanowitz began his career as a broadcast journalist, working for both TV and radio, including a stint writing for nearby WCVB.
“The Newton and Needham area have all the hallmarks of innovation, including a strong talent pool, world-renowned research institutions and a base of impressive companies. Our goal is to create the right environment for people to come together to create and build something new,” said Tanowitz
Key investors in the N2 effort include local property owners and developers such as Founders Park, Jumbo Capital, The Bulfinch Companies, Intrum Corp, Northland Corp. and Crosspoint Associates — all of which have major real estate holdings in the area.
Also on board are several of the district’s leading employers, including TripAdvisor, PTC and Karyopharm, as well as independent financial institutions such as Needham Bank, The Village Bank, Direct Federal Credit Union and Silicon Valley Bank.
Educational partners include Mt. Ida College, William James College, Olin College of Engineering and The Arthur M. Blank Center for Entrepreneurship at Babson College.
The City of Newton and Town of Needham are project partners and each also contributed financially to the marketing effort. Newton resident Joyce Plotkin, who is chair of Newton’s Economic Development Commission, chaired the fundraising committee.
“This important partnership that has developed among municipalities, businesses, non-profits, and the Chamber in Newton and Needham leads to greater access for all people to the innovation economy,” said Newton Mayor Setti Warren. “With continued investment in the N-Squared Innovation District, we want to give our innovators a place to build their businesses close to home, grow this innovative sector in the inner suburbs, and create jobs."
“With the town’s commitment to making Needham Crossing at the N-Squared Innovation District a true destination, we’re already seeing great wins from companies like just-opened SharkNinja and NBC Universal, which recently announced that this will be the headquarters for its New England media center,” said Needham Board of Selectmen Chair Marianne Cooley.
The chamber in partnership with Newton and Needham launched the N-Squared Innovation District project in 2013, based on an idea proposed by Mayor Warren. A report completed in 2016 by Camoin Associates details the viability of creating an innovation-driven economy in the area and laid out several steps that the region needs to take to turn the idea into a reality.
Several construction projects in the area are already underway that promise to transform the region, bringing hundreds of thousands of square feet of walkable retail and hundreds of new units of housing. Millions of dollars’ worth of infrastructure improvements in roads and transportation are either recently completed or funded and slated for construction.