Town of Framingham

The Town of Framingham it’s “business-friendly.”

And for the first time in a long time, businesses believe the Town.

“Framingham is Awesome” – Ian Barrett, creative boss for MediaBoss Television
“Service without Attitude”- Peter McAree, CFO of HeartWare Inc.
“I believe in Framingham” – Justin Krebs, partner at Normandy Real Estate Partners

These were some of the testimonials given at re-launch of the Town’s Choose Framingham campaign at the Genzyme campus on Mountain Road in Framingham. Genzyme, in recent years has invested $500-plus million in Framingham, and now employees more than 2,000 in town.

For years, the Town of Framingham was known as a place not very open to new or existing businesses.

The Town has a split tax rate, that charges businesses more than residents, and at a commercial tax rate much higher than neighboring Natick and Marlboro.

And the Town of Framingham was known for having a convoluted, confusing and complicated process for permitting of new projects, along with a perception that the Town would take its time with the process, if it approved the project at all.

That has all changed, according to business and town leaders who spoke at the event Wednesday night.

“Framingham is back in the game,” said Framingham Town Manager Bob Halpin. “We will take nothing for granted when it comes to your business needs and your business success.”

The launch event caps a year-long internal effort to overhaul the town’s approach to economic development, including establishing economic development zones, streamlining permitting processes, and hiring a director of economic development.

The goal of the changes was “”Stop hindering, start helping,” explained Halpin, who will celebrate two years leading the Town next month. “This signals a new day for Framingham and its approach to attracting companies and creating economic growth.”

Choose Framingham was adopted as the town’s slogan four years ago by then Selectmen Dennis Giombetti, who recently stepped down from the board, but was in attendance at yesterday’s event.

And Choose Framingham is what a handful of business leaders said they did, with the help of Town officials.
Justin Krebs of Normandy Real Estate Partners said he had heard about Framingham’s anti-business perception, when he wanted to redevelop property at 15 Pleasant St.

But he met with Halpin and Planning Board Administrator Amanda Loomis, who promised the project could do through the Town in 6 months.

“We were done in 4½,” said Krebs.

Paul Logue, vice president and general manager at Genzyme, echoed the same sentiments. His company’s latest $8 million project needed permitting to go through smoothly and quickly, as a late project could mean losing $1 to $2 million a month.

Logue said he met with Halpin, who made a lot of promises and commitments.

“I told him great, but I am a results guy,” said Logue.

“We had a very, very successful process with the town,” said Logue.

Many of the business leaders who spoke, praised Town Manager Halpin and the new leadership team he has assembled.

“Bob was true to his word,” said HeartWare CFO Peter McAree on discussing his company’s relocation to its new world-wide HQ on Old Conn Path in Framingham.

But the Town does not plan to rest on its recent successes.

“We want to prove to you that Framingham is very serious about growing business in Framingham, bringing in new business and working with existing business,” said Framingham Selectmen Chair Charlie Sisitsky. “We want to help you grow and keep you in town.”

Editor’s Note: Listen to Sisitsky talk to business leaders in the attached video.

“Our new campaign is meant to send a clear message to the town, the region and all of Greater Boston that Framingham is open for business,” said Halpin.

“Framingham is already one of the region’s leading innovation hubs but we’re committed to making it an even greater place to do business,” said Halpin, noting that the town is home to some of the country’s best known brands, including Genzyme, Staples, TJX, and Bose. “Going forward, we want to expand and attract companies across the spectrum – from large, established firms to small entrepreneurial ones.”

Framingham is home to some of the country’s best known brands, including Genzyme, Staples, TJX, Bose, Cumberland Farms, Gulf, etc.

“Going forward, we want to expand and attract companies across the spectrum – from large, established firms to small entrepreneurial ones,” said Halpin.