EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


April 7, 2008

Focus: Made in the Merrimack Valley

What do athletic tape, the sneakers on your feet and that soda can you are drinking from all have in common?

They are a few examples of items manufactured here in the Merrimack Valley.

Inside old mill buildings, at sprawling industrial parks, and in free-standing unassuming plants, businesses in the Merrimack Valley and Southern New Hampshire are churning out products that are made locally but shipped globally.

"We have companies here that make everything," said Joseph Bevilaqua, president of the Merrimack Valley Chamber of Commerce. "The Merrimack Valley is the state's premiere manufacturing center. There are a huge amount of manufacturers; they vary in size and scope."

According to the Merrimack Valley Means Business Web site, an offshoot of the Chamber, the region is home to about 350 manufacturing plants that make anything from fleece clothing and sneakers to high-tech military defense equipment and life-saving pharmaceuticals and medical devices.

"We have the space, and the labor force they need. I think more and more will come to the Merrimack Valley," Bevilaqua said.

Here are just 10 of the things made locally and sold and used everywhere:

1. Athletic adhesive tape, Jaybird and Mais, Lawrence

The Oakland Raiders were the first major team to use the Lawrence-made adhesive tape. The tape, used to wrap ankles, wrists and knees for preventive sports medicine and injury, is now distributed to professional baseball, basketball and hockey players, as well as college and high school athletes. Jaybird and Mais has 40 employees at its 360 Merrimack St. shop, where it has operated since 1985.

2. Soda and food aluminium, Crown Cork & Seal Co., Lawrence

While headquartered in Philadelphia, Crown Cork & Seal has more than 100 employees in Lawrence making metal cans that are used for beverages, food and beauty products. Its products include aerosol containers, all sizes of soda cans and specialty packaging for various items. The worldwide company has sales of $6.9 billion, according to its Web site.

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