Andover Townsman, Andover, MA


November 14, 2013

Charting a strong future

Economic development forum eyes town growth

Although much of town is developed — some might even say over-developed — one local committee is looking for new opportunities to expand the commercial tax base by bringing in new businesses and attracting new jobs, which in turn will draw new families to live and work here.

The Economic Development Council is hosting a summit of sorts next week to brainstorm ideas to keep Andover’s economy rolling.

“The fundamental reason to have the forum is to open up and continue a dialogue on why economic growth is good for the town,” said Timothy Vaill, chairman of the EDC, which was created following a recommendation in the town’s 2012 master plan and reports to the Board of Selectmen.

The first in a series of forums, next week’s event focuses on how economic development is good for parents with school-age children as well as senior citizens who may not realize the importance of economic development, Vaill said.

“We want to broaden the dialogue beyond the business community,” he said.

The forum is scheduled for 7 to 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 20, in the Safety Center at 32 North Main St. It will feature four speakers/panelists, including Barry Bluestone, director of the Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy at Northeastern University in Boston.

Bluestone will speak for about 30 minutes on economic growth and demographic issues affecting the town. He will also reveal some data about surrounding communities that are also trying to woo businesses by providing tax incentives and zoning districts to make themselves more attractive.

Other speakers include Greg Sebaski, chairman of Philips North America; Claudia Bach, former superintendent of Andover schools; and Charlie Kendrick, the former chairman of the Edgewood Retirement Community.

Sebaski will bring a perspective as the second-largest employer in town, while Bach will discuss why economic development is important for the improvement of local schools. Finally, Kendrick will link the importance of a strong economy to the elderly and talk about “why economic growth is good for them,” Vaill said.

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