Fact Book: Doing Business in Central Massachusetts

Central Mass. becoming its own destination

This first-time edition – Fact Book: Doing Business in Central Massachusetts – marks a departure for Worcester Business Journal. What had previously been the Central Mass. By The Numbers publication full of charts and data meant primarily for our core audience of regional business leaders has given way to this new Fact Book, written and published for people outside of Central Massachusetts – company leaders looking to expand or relocate their firms – to give an honest assessment of what it is like to do business in this region.

Previously, like almost any market in New England – or really any market near any major hub – the argument for businesses to set up shop in Central Massachusetts was always one of proximity. "Move your company here and be close to Boston." When I worked in Connecticut for the Hartford Business Journal, the business community's pitch was the same, although it touted its proximity to both Boston and New York City.
The flaw inherent in this argument, of course, is if I wanted to locate my business in Boston or NYC, then I would just go directly to Boston or NYC. If your main argument is you are Boston-adjacent, then you are already admitting you are the inferior market in your own region. "We're not quite as good as that market you really want to be in, but we're near it" isn't a winning pitch.

Fortunately, Worcester and the Central Massachusetts region has moved beyond this pitch. Sure, the region benefits from being 47 miles away from Boston, but that is no longer integral to the main argument for why companies should do business here: The workforce is educated; the region has a long history of innovation; up-and-coming industries like biotechnology and health care are growing; institutes of higher education are a cornerstone of the economy; and economic officials work tirelessly to help companies solve problems. The region's main negative is its underdeveloped transportation infrastructure; but the elaborate roadway system makes access to nearby airports and seaports easy, and business and government officials are working to enhance transit options for workers.

The other pitch in favor of Central Massachusetts is affordability. Yes, the region is much more expensive than, say, Alabama or Indiana – particularly with property taxes and costs of workforce – but in the trade-off you get in skilled and educated employees plus an established business-and-research ecosystem, Central Massachusetts is the affordable innovation capital of New England.

— Brad Kane, Editor

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