By Kathryn Ellis
I am excited to bring my 27 years of experience in economic development to Newton, which I see as a city poised to make a mark in the innovation economy space. I bring to the post of Economic Development Director experience in government and start-ups as well as a network of contacts, which I have built up working in the UK, Ireland and Switzerland.
I am originally from Ireland but over the past 29 years have lived in Newton, Dorchester, South Boston, Quincy and now Milton. I find Greater Boston to have a comforting sense of internationalism. My most recent work was as an entrepreneur in a start-up company with an office at the Cambridge Innovation Center for seven years.
Prior to owning my own company, I worked on behalf of the UK government attracting US companies to set up their operations in the UK to tap into the European market. I worked with some world-renowned companies, and I really felt their passion to spread their products and services to this new market. At the same time I dealt with a number of UK and European companies entering into the US market. The key driver for companies entering into the EU market was to establish a local sales network and to access a market of over 600 million consumers. Priority for these companies and executives moving into the UK was not just proximity to their customers, but access to skills, top-notch education and housing for their families. As a member of the Board of the British American Business Council of New England, I continue to maximize this network and make outreach to companies moving into New England, but my role now is to put Newton on their radar!
This is an exciting time to be a part of Newton’s economy. The ease of doing business, new developments, scalability for companies, access to the highly educated workforce are all the requirements for growing businesses to be successful.
Newton has so much to offer. Executives look at where cities rank for education, and this is generally a priority in choosing a home and a place to operate their business. The quality of life and sense of community makes business executives and their families feel welcome. And the fact that per square foot costs for businesses here are lower than in Boston and Cambridge does not hurt. People aspire to live here and you get a sense that residents wear their hometown as a badge of honor and a privilege to be part of a great city. Add to that great transportation links, and Newton is a win-win.
Over 10,000 businesses are registered in Newton — not bad when you consider that there are 49,000 or so in their working population. Dig deeper into these numbers and you will see companies want to grow in the city where their business was born. My job is not just to grow the region to attract companies but also to help Newton’s existing businesses thrive in this growing economy.
We live in an exciting and game-changing time in Massachusetts, a state that boasts the highest concentration of start-ups and entrepreneurs in the world. Newton in particular boasts more than eight patents registered per 1000 people compared to the state average of 1.5 patents per 1000.
Recent developments and dire need for rental apartments are on the rise. This will help encourage people to come to the city for houses they can afford. Live/Work/Play developments are going up across the state, and Newton is addressing this need for attracting and retaining residents.Proposed new developments in the City will offer more diverse housing, more commercial space and improved transportation links. The city has the advantage of multiple MBTA lines, commuter rail, express bus service as well as bus service through the city, two major highways (95 and 90) with close proximity to Boston and easy access to recreational areas.
My office is located at the Newton Innovation Center, which Newton leased to MassChallenge. This is shared space for start-up companies and the hope is that many will choose to locate in Newton as they expand their operations. I would be delighted to speak to any company whether located here in Newton now or looking to come and see what Newton has to offer.
Kathryn Ellis is the new Economic Development Director for the City of Newton. Contact her at Kellis@newtonma.gov or 617-796-1122.