Expanding Innovation: How Boston's Suburbs Plan to Attract More Tech Startups
The suburbs of Boston have long been home to massive companies. But towns outside the city limits aren’t exactly known for fostering an innovative tech startup and entrepreneurship scene.
Until recently, that is.
BRINGING INNOVATION TO THE 'BURBS
As of late, more resources are cropping up in the Boston outskirts that support entrepreneurs and startups alike. Take Salem, for example. This North Shore city, home to some 40K citizens, is a hotbed of tourist activity thanks to its infamous witch trials in 1692. Now it’s aiming to attract a new kind of audience: tech entrepreneurs.
“There’s a strong nucleus of [tech professionals] already here,” said Mayor of Salem Kim Driscoll. “The tech ecosystem we have in Salem has grown organically, and we’re looking to put our hand on the rudder a bit.”
That’s why, together with existing tech leaders in Salem, Driscoll is spearheading the roll out of InnoNorth. The new initiative launches this week and is an online resource that aims to “build the next great innovation hub in Massachusetts”, according to its site. By partnering with local tech professionals, InnoNorth will offer programs, events, and networking opportunities in Salem.
“Really, [InnoNorth’s mission] comes down to letting people know that Salem is an up and coming city and it’s a cool spot to live and work,” explained Justin Miller, tech marketing professional, MassChallenge mentor, and founder of Tech in Motion.
A Salem transplant, Miller initially reached out to Driscoll via Twitter with the concept that eventually became InnoNorth.
“Salem can give you more attention than the city can offer,” Miller said. “We’re welcoming in entrepreneurs and want to make sure it is as easy as possible [for tech professionals] to come and set up shop here.”
Salem isn’t the only suburb extending more support to entrepreneurs. Some 50 or so miles west lies Hudson, Massachusetts. The small town outside of Worcester is home to about 15K people, and it’s downtown area has been undergoing a recent revival. Trendy new restaurants, a brewery, and even a speakeasy hidden inside the town’s new microcreamery top the list of new businesses to crop up.
One June 1, the town is also opening a co-working space, The Lofts on Felton. The space - located in an old Victorian home-turned office - was created by Lysa Miller, (no relation to Justin) founder of Ladybugz Interactive Agency, and Marc Avila, founder of 3 Media Web, as a way to get more tech-savvy entrepreneurs to Hudson.
“We are really trying to foster not only entrepreneurship in the region, but act as a resource for businesses in the area by providing valuable services they would have to go to a major city to find and pay more money for,” explained Lysa Miller.
In 2015, Lysa was approached by the same local entrepreneurs responsible for several of the new businesses in Hudson to rent the empty space. She opted to transform the space into a co-working business and has been leading its June 1 launch. Monthly membership prices range from $250 for shared offices and up to $700 for private offices.
Masthead image via Unsplash