By Jim Damicis and Catherine Renault
This summer the Newton-Needham Chamber was awarded a grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration to advance economic development in the N2 Innovation Corridor. Today, the project is underway, and Camoin Associates is pleased to be working with your chamber, the City of Newton, the Town of Needham, and other stakeholders to develop an economic development strategy and marketing plan.
The objective is to position the corridor for more innovation-related economic development, promote it as a destination for new business attraction and formation, and nurture new and innovative start-up companies.
To do that, we must first establish an understanding of the corridor’s competitive economic position, its existing innovation drivers and its built environment as it relates to attracting investment and talent. That information will help us jointly determine key issues and opportunities to address in the strategy. We will be reaching out to you in 2016 to garner input via online survey — please watch for that and use it to share your perspectives with us.
The final plan will lay out the most strategic approach to further enhancing the N2 Corridor’s role in the innovation economy. Importantly, it will include internal and external marketing strategies designed to promote the corridor’s innovation identity and competitive factors.
What do we mean when we talk about the N2 Corridor’s role in the innovation economy? Newton and Needham is already home to roughly 150 innovation companies, some of them at the leading edge of their fields. World-renowned start-up accelerator MassChallenge has chosen Newton for its first in-state expansion. Local developments as well as regional real estate and industry trends overwhelmingly suggest that the N2 Corridor is positioned for more innovation-related development.
What Camoin Associates will help your communities do is understand the corridor’s sources and enablers of innovation — including anchor innovation institutions, large companies in innovation industries, entrepreneurial companies, diversity — and determine the best strategy for either becoming a true independent innovation district or better leveraging the Greater Boston innovation ecosystem (or some combination of tactics).
The N2 Corridor has excellent momentum as a collaborative initiative of the two municipalities, your chamber, key companies, developers, educational institutions, and other stakeholder organizations. The area has tremendous assets, has important transportation improvements underway and is already considering how to make its office parks more attractive for today’s innovation companies. We look forward to working with you on what will be an ambitious but viable plan for the N2 Innovation Corridor’s future.
Jim Damicis and Catherine Renault are respectively senior vice president and senior advisor at Camoin Associates, the Saratoga Springs, New York-based economic development firm that is working with Newton, Needham, the chamber, and other partners to develop a strategy and marketing plan for the N2 Innovation Corridor.