Growth Pilgrims: Drop Anchor For Opportunity In New England

With leading research institutions, a sought-after talent pool and a supportive network of innovators and co-location facilities, New England has made itself an attractive location for the advanced manufacturing sector.

By Ed Felton
From the July/August 2016 Issue

The New England Council (NEC) commissioned a joint study with Deloitte to examine industry growth in advanced manufacturing across New England. The objective of that study (which also serves as an update to the 2009 NEC and Deloitte report Advanced Manufacturing in a Networked World: Prospects for a Resurgence in New England) was to determine appropriate strategies and solutions to capitalize on and sustain growth in the advanced manufacturing sector by working with NEC members; local, regional and state governments; industry leaders; and other interested stakeholders to assess business capabilities, identify barriers to growth, develop actionable recommendations to address these challenges and to raise the profile of advanced manufacturing in New England.

New England
Note: Data are seasonally adjusted. New England’s Information supersector is based on data from NH, MA and CT only. (Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)

Similar to the approach employed for the 2009 study, a detailed analysis of primary and secondary data was conducted to build a comprehensive picture of industry and labor trends overview of New England’s advanced manufacturing industry. Data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Bureau of Economic Analysis, as well as publicly available sources from state agencies and industry organizations were analyzed to determine baselines, detect industry trends and identify advantaged industry subsectors poised for growth. This data analysis was supplemented with findings collected during interviews and workshops with individuals representing private and public sector interests. Together, quantitative analysis and qualitative review were used to develop insights into barriers to success and opportunities for growth in advanced manufacturing. This combined approach facilitated the development of recommended action steps to spur growth and raise the profile of advanced manufacturing across New England.

Here are some key findings of the study:

  • New England as a region enjoys a competitively advantaged position with respect to advanced manufacturing, stemming from an intricate network of cross-sector relationships (industry, government and education) that have evolved over time.
  • Advanced manufacturing operates in a complex network of suppliers, skillsets and innovators. Within the region exists a high concentration of both industry clusters and capabilities clusters that support the various industries.
  • Despite the difficulties encountered during the great Recession, advanced manufacturing has proven to be a resilient sector of the economy. The industry has been able to return to, and in some cases surpass, pre-recession levels for shipment value, GDP and employment while traditional manufacturing has struggled to rebound.
  • The emerging economics of advanced manufacturing further favor New England in that the industry has shifted to that one operates on networks of innovative firms interacting to advance design and production methods and tools while creating quantum leaps in productivity. In this manner, New England’s industry is able to ameliorate the high cost of business within the region with the value added by leading research institutions, a sought-after talent pool and a supportive community of innovators co-located with operations.
  • Location quotient analysis identified several competitively advantaged industry sub-sectors of advanced manufacturing in the New England region. These “industry clusters” have a high concentration of firms and employees relative to the general economy, and include: signal processing, navigation, optics, measurement; aerospace and defense; medical devices and biotechnology; semiconductors and complex electronics; precision machining.
  • In addition to specific industry clusters, New England possesses an umbrella of industry-agnostic “capability clusters” in software and artificial intelligence, sensors and automation, and advanced materials. These differentiate the region in terms of competitiveness and also bolster the firms within industry clusters to further innovate and advance their product.
  • Taken together, there is a significant advantage for New England’s industry; however, the future is not without its challenges. The region still maintains a sizeable advantage in advanced manufacturing GDP per capita compared to the rest of the country, but the gap is not quite as big as it used to be.

New England’s economic activity in the second quarter of 2016 continued to improve year-over-year, but at a slower rate than seen in previous quarters, according to a recent report by the Federal Reserve of Boston. Despite a small month-to-month reduction in New England jobs in May 2016, the unemployment rate in the region remained at 4.4 percent, which is a 0.6 percentage point drop since May 2015. Between May 2015 and May 2016 the construction sector experienced the strongest job growth in New England. Other economic indicators, such as housing prices, continued to post increases.

The United States and New England have both experienced moderate payroll employment growth year-over-year. Between May of 2015 and May of 2016, all six New England states experienced job growth ranging from 1.5 percent growth in Massachusetts to about 0.25 percent growth in Rhode Island.

New England and the United States experienced considerable variation in job growth across supersectors. Nine of the ten supersectors recorded year-over-year job gains in the region in May 2016 with the exception of the Information supersector. The fastest growing sector in New England over this time period was Construction, increasing 4.6 percent and exceeding the 3.4 percent growth this sector experienced nationally. Employment in the Manufacturing sector declined nationally, but it increased modestly year-over-year in New England.

Year-over-year consumer prices remained low in both the nation and Boston through May 2016. Boston’s price increases (1.7 percent) outpaced national increases (1 percent). In the Boston area, price inflation outpaced the national growth in every category except recreation costs, which saw a decline. Transportation costs in Boston were down over three percent year-over-year largely due to low energy prices.


Quonset Business Park increasingly is seen as a key driver of job creation and economic growth in Rhode Island. It is now home to nearly 11,000 full- time and part-time jobs at more than 200 companies. Its Port of Davisville is one of the Top Ten auto-importers in North America. And since 2005, more than 4,800 jobs have been created within the Park. So why are so many businesses and people wanting to call Quonset home?

New England
With more than 35 million people within a three-hour drive, Quonset Business Park is centrally located between Boston and New York City on the scenic Narragansett Bay. (Source: Quonset Development Corporation)

World Class Infrastructure: Since 2005 more than $90 million has been invested to upgrade the infrastructure of the Park. That includes everything from the roads, rail, piers and water system, to tearing down over 2.4 million square feet of derelict and unusable building space. Governor Raimondo also included a $90 million proposal in her state budget this year to modernize and reconstruct Pier 2 at the Port of Davisville. The investment would position Quonset to be home base for jobs in the wind energy field, as well as pre- serve hundreds of jobs in the maritime sector and solidify Davisville’s position as the premiere marine commercial gateway to New England.

90-Day Development: The Quonset Development Corporation (QDC), which handles the development and management of the Quonset Business Park, has completed all the engineering that a developer would have to conduct as part of “due diligence” in order to get a project underway. Further, the QDC has secured all the baseline permits from various state agencies that a new business would be required to secure. In essence, shovels can be in the ground within 90 days of a new tenant signing their lease.

The Quonset Zone: A single zoning district is assigned to the park as part of an agreement with the host community of North Kingstown for uniform development regulations. The one-stop process means that all development and re-development projects in the park can proceed more efficiently and in a timely manner.

Optimal Sized Parcels: Today there are 38 parcels pre-engineered and pre- permitted across 274 acres. Ranging in size from one to 43 acres, there is an optimal space for any size business.

Lease Incentive Plans: There are multiple lease incentives offered—the longer a tenant agrees to keep their business at the Park, the larger the discount available to them. Another incentive provides a discount to land lease tenants that is equal to 0.5 percent of their annual wages.

These are just some of the top reasons companies are choosing Quonset. There are still many, many more, including the beaches, golf course, retail and other amenities on-site.

A testament to Quonset’s growth was reflected by several major announcements over the past year. Many were highlighted in the Quonset Development Corporation’s annual report for 2015, which can be viewed at on the Transparency and Accountability page.

Major highlights noted within the report for 2015, include:

  • Job Growth: One year after achieving the 10,000-employee milestone, employment at the Park has now reached 10,880.
  • New tenants: Greencore completed a new 93,000-square-foot facility housing 400 employees. Edesia completed construction of their 82,000-square-foot building, which will house 75 new employees. Other new tenants arriving in 2015 included PetValu, NK Solar, North Kingstown School Department, Electric Boat Pharmacy and Bank of England.
  • Tenant expansions: Several tenants have continued to invest in major expansions and improvements at the Quonset Business Park, including Toray Plastics, NORAD, Ocean State Job Lot, Electric Boat, J. Goodison Company, Supfina and Wide World of Indoor Sports.
  • New building space: There was more than 183,000 square feet of new structures added by Quonset tenants in 2015.
  • Private Investment: New tenant arrivals and current company expansions resulted in $29 million of investment in the Park this past year.
  • Infrastructure Projects: The QDC spearheaded the construction of more than $3.7 million in completed infrastructure projects and another $8.9 million ongoing into 2016.
  • Port activity: Auto imports have continued to grow, with 227,021 autos imported by ship and a combined total of 269,171 by ship, rail and truck in 2015. The Port has experienced growth of 547 percent over the past 20 years and this was its sixth consecutive record-breaking year for imports. Additionally, 387 metric tons of project cargo was handled by the mobile harbor crane last year.

“The most critical component to our decision was the expedited development timeline offered by Quonset Business Park. Quonset’s Site Readiness program and their uniform development guidelines gave us confidence about the process ahead. We felt that Quonset offered the quickest timeline from a lease signing to the start of construction. In fact, they estimated that it would happen in less than 90 days. True to their word, Quonset delivered,” said Rene Ouimet, VP Strategy & Business Transformation, Greencore.

These are just a few of the stories about Quonset’s continued growth in the past year.

With more than 200 companies and nearly 11,000 people working at the Quonset Business Park, the Quonset Development Corporation is committed to helping more businesses grow, create jobs and continue to move Rhode Island forward.

To learn how Quonset can help your company grow and succeed, visit


“Economic development” is a term frequently used but often misunderstood. In its simplest form, it is the creation of wealth in a specific area, and this is often measured in jobs created, capital investment and new property tax base. At the last board retreat of the Northeast Economic Developer’s Association it was discussed how, in New England, most communities include vitality, sustainability and other types of revenue generation such as sales or rooms and meals tax. Fortunately for those involved on the “action” side of economic development, and that includes real estate professionals, many communities and regions have created economic development strategic plans that will guide the way regarding what kind of development is desired, and what impacts are to be avoided.

The strategic plan for Rochester, NH has been approved for the 10-year update in 2016, so it is an appropriate time to evaluate and benchmark the successes before bringing in a new slate of goals and objectives. The strategy approved in 2006 encouraged major changes to process and policy, and also focused on making incremental improvements. As the joke says, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time,” and that is how Rochester created so much new wealth in the last decade.

The Granite Ridge Development District. The creation of the Granite Ridge Development District, a 913 acre commercial and entertainment zone, involved policy changes as well as active investment attraction. The city rezoned the acreage for maximum density and favorable construction conditions beneficial to commercial developers. One critical feature is the construction of Marketplace Boulevard, a city street interconnecting the developments and allowing double the development capacity. The NH Dept. of Transportation invested more than $135 million into the Spaulding Turnpike in Rochester, directly impacting and making improvements for this massive development zone in the Seacoast of New Hampshire. Waterstone Retail of Needham, MA has a 500,000-square-foot center underway with Phase 1 now open and Phase 2 approved by the city. Thousands of jobs will be created, serving area residents and visitors to the region with shopping, entertainment and restaurants.

The Granite State Business Park, next to Skyhaven Airport in Rochester, is the largest of the city’s eight parks at 282 acres. Started in the late 80’s by a private developer, the park was acquired by the city and expanded in 2010. Since then Albany International has expanded, moving their corporate headquarters from New York and their R&D facilities from Massachusetts and employing more than 400. Safran Aerospace Composites, in a unique partnership with Albany, has built a 345,000 square foot facility for composite jet engine components, and has secured an option on another 50 acres. NCS Global has built a LEED Certified Silver facility for their global headquarters on Innovation Drive. Phase 2 Medical, one of the fastest growing medical device firms in New Hampshire is located in a 75,000-square-foot facility. With Phases 1 & 2 of the park now under agreement, the city is focused on adding more land zoned for industry to the park on the south side of the city. Active rail, COAST bus service and Skyhaven Airport provide access in addition to SR-108 and Spaulding Turnpike Exit 12.

Downtown Arts & Entertainment District. Rochester became a National Main Street Community in 2006, gaining approval from the National Trust for Historic Preservation for their strategic plan and achieving non-profit organization status. Similar to other New England historic mill towns, the city had suffered from disinvestment in infrastructure and buildings, depressing property values and losing foot traffic. The Main Street Approach targeted economic revitalization, events, Downtown design and organization outreach with their army of volunteers. Concerts on the Square, a Farmer’s Market and National Comic Book Day are just a few of the new activities in the Historic Downtown.

The Rochester Museum of Fine Arts displays in several permanent locations, but also has been doing “pop-up” art shows in vacant storefronts improving the look and foot traffic of Downtown. The economic development office has been selected by Americans for the Arts to participate in Arts & Economic Prosperity V (AEP5) to measure the local economic impact created by public arts organizations in the community as well as to measure spending by arts audiences. The Rochester Opera House has been enjoying a renaissance, with 2015-2016 being its most successful season since it reopened in the 1990’s.

Downtown occupancy and residency is up dramatically, with 64 new dwelling units and a 5 percent drop in ground floor vacancy this past year alone. With input from Rochester Main Street, the city has improved city policies and ordinances, such as Signs, Zoning, Expedited Review, Outdoor Dining and much more.

Rochester Public Works has taken on multiple new road, water and sewer improvement projects that will support existing and continued growth in commercial and industrial development. A $4 Million project on Salmon Falls Road and SR 125 North will be doubling water capacity for Crossroads Business Park and the Market Basket Marketplace. The visitor friendly vibe of Downtown will be enhanced by a “wayfinding” initiative, guiding pedestrians, bicyclists and autos to their favorite destinations and abundant free parking. City Hall offices will be expanded into the Annex. Once the Rochester Fire Department, the structure will be rehabilitated and historically restored to meet the city’s need to bring Economic Development, Planning and Building, Zoning and Licensing Services together under one roof. This one-stop development center will be ready for occupancy by Summer 2017.

The overall economic impact of these accomplishments has made living and owning a business in Rochester a great investment. More than $100 million in new buildings has been constructed, resulting in a 63 percent increase in commercial and industrial value generating new tax revenue for the city. As a percentage of the city, commercial and industrial development has increased from 19.3 percent in 2003 to 24.7 percent in 2015, distributing the property tax burden across a more diverse base and allowing for services in the city to keep pace with demand.


It has been a great year for economic development so far for Claremont, New Hampshire. As of July, five major projects are underway, expanding the City’s manufacturing sector and making room for growth at key Claremont employers.

New England
The new North Country Smokehouse in Syd Clark Industrial Park was bought by Canadian firm Les Spécialités Prodal. Planning and zoning approvals are for a 67,000-square-foot office and food production facility. (Source: City of Claremont)

In addition, the City’s Planning and Development Office is pushing hard on workforce development. New collaborations with local educators and a brand-new “Welcome to Claremont” website highlight a strong push by the City to bolster the area workforce and provide avenues to high-paying jobs in manufacturing and tech.

The highlight of the year so far, however, is a recent surge in development in Syd Clarke Industrial Park. Four major economic development projects are centered in and around the business park, including the expansion of existing businesses and the arrival of new ones. The companies in question have bought in to Claremont for the long haul—a promising sign for the City’s near future.

Canaam Bridges, a division of the CANAM Group, bought a lot next door to their existing 250,000-square-foot facility, to accommodate the company’s growing demand. CANAM has secured major bridge contracts in recent months, including the Tappan Zee Bridge in New York, and is adding employees fast.

Les Spécialités Prodal has purchased three parcels in the Syd Clarke Industrial Park for their expansion. A long-time Claremont company, North Country Smokehouse was bought by Les Spécialités Prodal just about a year ago. The new owners—a Canadian firm with a dominant position in the pork market—made the decision to expand the operation in Claremont. The new North Country Smokehouse has secured planning and zoning approvals for a 67,000-square-foot office and food production facility and broke ground in the beginning of July.

New Hampshire Industries (NHI) purchased a 130,000-square-foot facility in Claremont last year. NHI is moving their headquarters to Claremont, bringing over 70 jobs with them and paving the way for future expansions. Company president John Seavers says, “New Hampshire Industries is the premier global manufacturer of rugged mechanical power transfer products including Idler & Drive Pulleys, Blade Adaptors, Timing Pulleys, Machined Components & Custom Assemblies. The NHI team consists of approximately 70 employees and we hope to grow this number significantly in the coming years.”

Jewell Trucking bought and developed a parcel in the Syd Clarke Industrial Park, constructing a 14,000-square-foot office and trucking depot to accommodate their company’s growth.

After years of slow growth, companies from all over the region are realizing Claremont’s value. Low construction and real estate costs, solid infrastructure and a City focused on economic development are helping to push Claremont forward.

For more information about current projects, or to learn more about what Claremont, New Hampshire can do for your business or clients, please contact the City’s Economic Development Department via phone or e-mail.