Politicians, local business leaders and education officials from Middlesex County will came together on Tuesday for the inaugural meeting of Middlesex 3, a regional public partnership dedicated to promoting the competive business advantages of Lowell, Chelmsford, Billerica, Bedford and Burlington.
Middlesex 3 spokesperson Bob Buckley considered the event a tremendous success, with over 200 participants focusing on issues ranging from infrastructure to maintaining a competitive workforce.
In Buckley's eyes, the Route 3 corridor is already among one of the top places for business in New England, making the impetus for the new group toward maintaining rather building success.
"The resources are here, the question is how they are mobilized," said Buckley. "When a company puts a stake in the ground they want to do it just once. They want to figure out how to grow 10 to 15 years from now. While we have all the raw materials here when it comes to an educated workforce and towns committed to maintaining a high quality of life, communities will have to collaborate to provide plans for necessities like transportation and housing."
Among those involved in the founding of Middlesex 3 is Bedford Town Manager Richard Reed, who said the project stemmed for joint efforts by Middlesex communities on public works projects that impacted not one, but all town's in the area.
"This is something we've been working on for a few years," Reed said. "It started with joint efforts from the communities in the area on the Middlesex Turnpike and Crosby Drive improvment projects."
In coming together to work on projects that benefit the communities that make up Middlesex County, community leaders realized this was an advantageous way to approach economic development in the area as well, Reed said.
"We are getting to the point of promoting our region together in terms of economic development," Reed said.
The partnership will involve more than leaders of business and government, Reed said, as the coalition will also work to create an equipped and specialized workforce through higher education in the Middlesex corridor.
"We'll be talking about what kind of training needs different businesses looking at this area are interested in," Reed said. "The educational institutions involved with the coalition have specialized training for kids who want to enter the workforce."
In addition to representatives from institutions of post-secondary education in the area, the Middlesex 3 coalition will also work with officials from Shawsheen Regional Technical High School to determine which specialized vocational training at the high school level will most benefit the region's workforce in the future, Reed said.
"We realized what we wanted to do was create a partnership between government, business and schools to promote the corridor," Reed said.
Reed said the idea for the coalition stemmed from the notion that businesses looking to come to the Middlesex corridor are not interested in choosing one community to settle in over another, but what the area in general has to offer.
"We don't believe companies are picking one town over another," Reed said. "A company looking to invest in settling in a new location will decide on an area over a community. We all had to gain by coming together like this."
There is a lot the Middlesex corridor has to offer to businesses, Reed said, and it makes sense for the communities comprising the corridor to work together in enticing businesses to come to the area.
"The region is strategically located between Interstate 95 and Route 495," Reed said. "There is a similar high quality of life in the communities across the region. We have a lot to offer."