Providence TV Station Showcases NB Momentum

Businesses find home in downtown New Bedford
By Katie Davis | Reporter Published: January 26, 2010

NEW BEDFORD, Mass.—Downtown New Bedford is buzzing with new businesses.
Despite tough times, some 39 new shops and restaurants have opened their doors here in the past two years.
“New Bedford for a very long time has come into recessions early, has gone very deep and has come out very, very late.  That’s not what we’re seeing, exactly, this time around,” said Matt Morrissey of the New Bedford Economic Development Council.
Morrissey said vacancy rates in the downtown area have dropped from 38 percent in 2007 to 16 percent today.

Part of New Bedford’s downtown area was designated as a historic district in 1997, leading private companies to invest more than $85 million in renovations.
“In smaller market like New Bedford, that’s a big deal. That’s a lot of money, and you can see it as you walk around,” Morrissey said.
The economic development council has given more than $5 million in loans to local businesses in downtown and beyond.
The Beaumont Solar Co. transformed a struggling sign business with solar and wind energy.
“If you’re growing, and you’re hiring, and you want to put people on, this is a great place to be,” Beaumont’s Phil Cavallo said. “They were very quick to help us, in terms of investing in a local company.”
A few blocks away at a company called Darn It!, a struggling clothing manufacturer was reborn. The new business fixes mistakes made on clothing produced outside the United States.
“Our tag line is: Your problem is our business. People come to us with all sorts of issues,” company president Jeff Glassman said. “We needed a place where we could depend on a skilled workforce, and a place where we could depend on the support of a community.”
Darn It! went from about six employees in the 1990s to about 80 employees today.
The company plans to stay in New Bedford and move to a larger building soon.
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