Chamber News

N2 Innovation District
September 07, 2015 Likes Comments

N2 Initiative raises $100K to explore long-term growth

The Newton-Needham Chamber has been awarded a federal grant designed to advance economic development in the section of Newton and Needham known as the N2 Innovation Corridor, U.S. Congressman Joseph P. Kennedy III announced.

The $50,000 grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration has been matched with an additional $50,000 from local businesses and nonprofits and from the City of Newton and Town of Needham. It will fund a year-long competitiveness study and create a marketing plan for the N2 Corridor as the area enters a period of marked expansion and development.

“Businesses are recognizing that they can set their sights on areas just outside of Boston and have access to some of the highest quality of life anywhere around,” said Kennedy, who announced the award at a press conference at Karyopharm Therapeutics’ headquarters on Wells Avenue in Newton on Aug. 6.

“This grant will help leverage the N2 Corridor’s strengths and capitalize on our rapidly-expanding innovation sector as we continue our efforts to expand access to economic opportunity throughout our commonwealth,” he added.

Comprised of nearly 500 acres of commercial, educational, retail and recreational land along the Newton-Needham line, the N2 Innovation Corridor is home to some of the nation’s fastest growing and most well-known innovation companies. In addition to being the new location of TripAdvisor’s world headquarters, which opened in July, it’s also home to PTC, Turbine, SharkNinja (formerly Europro), Verastem, CyberArk, BigBelly Solar, SocialMadeSimple and Karyopharm, among others.

What lies ahead for the N2 Corridor has the power to transform the region. Earlier this year, Normandy Real Estate Partners purchased a 28-acre parcel in the Needham Crossing section of the Corridor with plans for large-scale redevelopment. The parcel is expected to be home to a 400-unit affordable housing complex, creative office space, restaurants and retail. Additionally, at the Wells Avenue office park in Newton, several significant property expansions are in the planning stage. Considerable roadway improvements -- including a new dedicated exit ramp off of I-95 at Kendrick Street leading to the two office parks -- are currently under construction. A renovation of Needham Street and Highland Avenue has just been funded.

“This grant ensures that the early success we’ve enjoyed establishing the N2 Corridor as a work-live-learn-play destination will be relevant and sustainable over the long term,” said Newton-Needham Chamber President Greg Reibman, adding that the project would not have been possible without the strong public/private partnership with the City of Newton and the Town of Needham. Also key to the project, he said, has been the “technical and moral” support from Steve Winter at the Metropolitan Area Planning Council in Boston and Chris Steele of Investment Consulting Associates, a member of the N2 Task Force.

“We are extremely grateful to the EDA, to our partners in Newton and Needham and to the 18 businesses and non-profits who’ve contributed financially towards this project,” Reibman said.

“The N² Corridor is a great example of how municipalities and private partners can work together to more effectively advocate for the resources needed to finance projects based on holistic plans that will have a big impact on the area,” said Newton Mayor Setti Warren. “This grant will enable us to get the expertise needed to create the strongest, most effective plan to spur the economic development that will attract innovative companies, entrepreneurs, and high-paying jobs to Newton and Needham.

“I am proud of the work we have done through this private-public partnership with the Town of Needham and the Newton-Needham Chamber and look forward to continuing to grow this initiative and see how we can apply our success here towards the creation of other innovation districts, such as the Charles River Mill District. I would like to thank Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Jay Williams and the EDA for their support of the N² Corridor,” Warren added.

“This grant recognizes the value of both the N2 area and the constructive regional approach that Needham and Newton have taken together in partnership with the Newton-Needham Chamber and the businesses in both communities,” said Maurice Handel, chair of the Needham Board of Selectman. “We also recognize the key role played by the Metropolitan Area Planning Council and our elected representatives.”

Michael Kauffman, Karyopharm’s CEO, said his company chose to relocate to the N2 Corridor from Natick because the price was right and because the community was interested in attracting bio-science companies like his to the area.

“The competition has really driven the need to provide a much more wholesome experience for folks from the time they drive into the parking lot and the time they leave and get home,” Kauffman said. “And if you want to attract good talent, it’s become the norm now that you have to have a place that’s conducive to a little bit more than just the workplace,” Kauffman told the Newton TAB.

In addition to the financial support from the EDA, the Chamber received financial contributions totaling $50,000 from City of Newton, the Town of Needham, financial contributions and the following Newton-Needham based businesses and non-profits: TripAdvisor, Normandy Real Estate Partners, The Bulfinch Companies, Mount Ida College, Crosspoint Associates, Boston Realty Advisors, PTC, Cabot, Cabot and Forbes, Residence Inn Needham, New England Development, Muzi Motors, Dunn-Gaherins Food & Spirits, Century Bank, Fairway Independent Mortgage, RL Tennant Insurance, Jewish Community Centers of Greater Boston, Bakers’ Best Catering and Newton-Wellesley Hospital.

EDA grants are awarded through a competitive process based upon the application’s merit, the applicant’s eligibility, and the availability of funds, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce.

The Chamber is now reviewing bids from consultants to work with the Chamber, the N2 Task Force and its municipal partners on the creation of a strategic business plan for development of the corridor.

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