Travis McCready | President and CEO of Massachusetts Life Sciences Center
Biotech is one of the fastest growing sectors in Massachusetts with most of the activity centered on Kendall Square in Cambridge. But that activity comes with a cost, specifically the high cost of rents, traffic and inadequate parking. A recent Boston Globe story noted that a single bench in Kendall can cost as much as $4600 a month.
During an April 24 chamber panel that explored the potential for biotechs in the inner suburbs, Travis McCready, president and CEO of the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center, pointed out that what people in the region think of as “the suburbs” are relatively proximate to downtown. The issue, he said, isn’t location but perspective.
“The choice is community or no community,” McCready said.
McCready noted the key for most companies isn’t necessarily being in Kendall Square, but density and being proximate to other companies. During a panel discussion, Jeff Behrens, CEO LabShares Newton agreed, noting that only some personnel need access to Kendall, while most biotech workers are happy being closer to home.
Moderator Allison DeAngelis of the Boston Business Journal pointed out that a key issue regarding location is recruiting talent, which Tyson Reynoso, director at King Street Properties said means focusing on three key issues: transportation, amenities like food service and fitness, and proximity to like-minded companies.
Chris Primiano, EVP/CBO, of the Newton-based Karyopharm agreed, saying that for a company that is beyond the startup stage and looking for more experienced talent, being in the suburbs can be a competitive advantage as it reduces the commute times.
So where is the opportunity for Newton and Needham? McCready pointed out that cities and towns are best served by creating a predictable environment from a zoning and governance perspective. Freeing up the complexity of building means that companies can, instead, focus on their biggest issue: getting products to market.