A Quintessential New England Town

Natick, Massachusetts

Both picturesque and metropolitan, Natick is a “community that is desirable to families, singles and retirees, with an abundance of activities for residents of all ages,” says Town Administrator, Martha White. The community is widely viewed as an ideal alterative to Boston, particularly for young families looking to move out to the suburbs. In fact, Boston Magazine named Natick the number one place in Massachusetts for “move-up” buyers, labeling it one of the few affordable towns in the MetroWest area. Safe and charming neighborhoods have affordable homes for all walks of life, from post-war ranches and colonials to remodeled mill buildings and new condominiums.

Natick has plenty of green space, several recreational facilities, a new community senior center, numerous art galleries, a regionally known performing arts theatre, and special cultural events such as “Art-Walk” and “Open Studios.” Families enjoy outdoor concerts on the Town Common, a year-round Farmers Market, and picking produce at Lookout Farm, one of the oldest working farms in America. Natick’s educational opportunities are top notch, with outstanding public and private schools and more than sixty colleges and universities within a short drive of the town. In fact, more than 62 percent of residents have bachelor or graduate degrees.

Natick’s thriving downtown, known as Town Center, includes one of the ten Cultural Districts designated by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. This Cultural District offers a concentration of cultural facilities, activities, and assets, including a commuter rail station and spacious public library. The area is as vibrant as it is quaint, and serves as a center of cultural, artistic and economic activity.

Conveniently located along Route 9, one of the most travelled roadways in the northeast, Natick is also a center for commerce. The highway links Boston to its western suburbs and is lined with major retailers; the Natick Mall alone draws more than 17 million people each year to visit its 200+ retail stores and restaurants, including Nordstrom, Nieman Marcus, American Girl, Crate and Barrel, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Bose, Apple, and Tesla. The upscale shopping destination is the largest shopping mall in New England, the fourth largest on the East Coast, and the twenty-third largest in the nation.

Major corporations also line Natick roadways, from financial firms and bio-medical businesses to leading edge tech companies. MathWorks, a global leader in the development of innovative mathematical computing software, is headquartered in town. More than two-thousand people are employed at the Natick facilities, and three-thousand worldwide. The Natick Soldier RD&E Center (NSRDEC), commonly referred to Natick Labs, is located at the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Systems Center. The center’s mission is crucial: to maximize the American soldier’s survivability, sustainability, mobility, combat effectiveness and quality of life. Cognex, the world’s leading provider of machine vision systems, vision software, vision sensors and surface inspection systems for manufacturing automation, is also based in Natick. Busek, a developer and manufacturer of thrusters used in the aerospace industry, calls Natick home as well.

The list of Natick based companies continues to grow as an increasing number of businesses choose to relocate to the town. For example, Zyno Medical, a leading life sciences firm, recently named Natick the new site of its corporate headquarters. “After having considered several other towns, I am excited to settle my company’s headquarters in Natick,” says Zyno Medical President Chao Lee. “Natick’s central location makes it easy for our customers and vendors to find us, and provides ready access to banks, shopping, restaurants and other conveniences. The Town of Natick is a perfect fit for Zyno Medical, LLC, and we look forward to a long and fruitful partnership.”

Natick is committed to bringing in new business, and community leaders work hard to support relocating companies. “Town officials have proven to be extremely supportive of us throughout our move, from the purchase of the building to helping us complete the renovation project on time,” Mr. Lee shares. “They have also been instrumental in helping us connect with beneficial State programs such as the Mass Life Science Centers.”

Natick’s government helps incoming businesses like Zyno navigate the town’s decision making and permit process. A team of local and state economic development professionals help expanding businesses craft new strategies, while the Office of Community Development, Board of Selectmen, and Planning Board work together to make the development process go as smoothly as possible.

“Natick is a welcoming and forward-thinking community with a healthy business climate,” explains Joshua Ostroff, Chairman of the Board of Selectmen. “We recognize that companies looking to relocate or expand have many choices, so we are committed to investing in infrastructure, supporting high quality schools and services to attract a talented workforce, maintaining affordable taxes, and thinking and acting strategically about the future of the town and the region. Large and small businesses alike thrive in Natick and are partners in our success.”

Natick’s supportive businesses environment has roots that stretch all the way back to the early 1800s, when successful businesses first began to find a foothold in the town. Shoemaking was the town’s first major industry, and components were hand cut, then farmed out to leather workers who finished production in small shops that stood behind their homes known as “ten footers.” Henry Wilson, the 18th Vice President of the United States, made his living in this cottage industry before being elected to the Senate in 1854.

When the railroad came through Natick in 1835, business enjoyed a sizable boost across multiple sectors. The Natick Box and Board Company supplied the boxes needed for shipping, and eventually developed the first box cutting machine. The Whipple Company became famous for its “Grandmother’s Mincemeat” and the Carling Brewery earned a reputation for its Carling “Black Label” that was “brewed on the beautiful shores of Lake Cochituate.” Natick was also the birthplace of figure eight stitched baseballs. The “League Balls,” which were sold nationwide and in Canada, were wound in the H. Harwood & Sons factory and stitched by women in their homes.

Natick enjoyed a prosperous past – and its future promises to hold even more success. “Natick has always been considered an innovative and growing community,” says Paul Joseph, Chairman of the Natick EDC. “From the earliest expansion of suburban Boston to the locating of the U.S. Army’s famous Natick Labs and New England’s largest shopping mall, Natick’s location continues to be quite appealing. We attract entrepreneurs and local employees that seek the balance of good schools, quality of life, and access to Boston and the New England region.”

Natick is eager to continue expanding its economic base and town officials are actively working to draw in more industries. “The vision is to bring creative industries such as advertising and marketing firms, architects, design firms, film, media, music and entertainment together with the traditional downtown and industrial area businesses to create a synergy of creativity and cooperation,” explains Michael Gallerani, Natick’s Economic Development Planner.

Ideally located along a major corridor just minutes from Boston, Natick is well positioned to maintain – and strengthen – its economy. The best and the brightest are settling there to pursue the latest breakthroughs in their fields, from biotech to software to medicine. It is a town where “ideas are explored and brought to life,” Mr. Gallerani insists. “Whether it is a lifesaving technique or piece of equipment, a new approach to how we protect our country, or a more efficient way to move things and people, many expect that they will be done in Natick.”

May 29, 2020, 2:48 AM EDT