EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

October 4, 2012

Council looks to retain old, attract new businesses to North Andover

By Paul Tennant

---- — NORTH ANDOVER – The Economic Development Council is looking for ways to bring businesses and jobs to North Andover.

Two ideas the council discussed Wednesday night are streamlining the permitting process and creating a website that advertises the sites in the town that are available for companies.

Selectman Rosemary Connelly Smedile, who owns and operates a real estate firm, suggested including a notice with tax bills that encourages people to shop locally and consider starting businesses in the town.

Smedile also said the time has come to enact a sign bylaw to make the downtown more attractive.

Many residents are concerned about the possibility of Schneider Electric and Converse leaving their quarters on High Street. Converse recently acknowledged it has been looking for another location for its corporate headquarters.

Smedile said town officials have worked very hard to keep both companies in North Andover. Both firms have indicated they need more space, she said.

"There's only so much the town can do," she said.

Ronn Faigen said North Andover needs to promote the advantages of locating a company in the town.

"How do we stand out?" he asked.

The town may have an advantage in the way its officials treat people who want to locate businesses here. The men who bought the former Beijing Restaurant at 1250 Osgood St. and plan to reopen it as the Hokkaido recently told the selectmen the local officials were very helpful to them, Smedile noted.

Community Development Director Curt Bellevance said he will organize the ideas that were presented Wednesday and recommend a priority for each one.