Article from Eagle Tribune, December 19th 2018
METHUEN — New Balance is looking to expand its manufacturing operations to Methuen.
The footwear and fitness apparel company is eyeing 596 Lowell St. for an “advanced manufacturing facility,” city officials said Tuesday. The company is headquartered in Brighton and already has a manufacturing plant and factory store in Lawrence.
“Having a great Massachusetts company like New Balance Athletics see the value of expanding their manufacturing footprint here in Methuen is a win for our city,” Mayor James Jajuga said in a statement. “Not only will this new facility bring millions of dollars of investment, it will, most importantly, create jobs.”
New Balance spokeswoman Amy Dow said in a press release the company was excited about the opportunity to expand its manufacturing efforts in the Merrimack Valley.
The Methuen factory would “complement our existing manufacturing facility in Lawrence by specifically housing our advanced manufacturing operations,” she said.
Economic and Community Development Director William Buckley said the city caught word earlier this year that New Balance was looking for a place to expand its manufacturing. New Balance had approached Brooks Properties, which owns 596 Lowell St., and conversations evolved from there.
The 80,000 square foot Lowell Street building had previously been home to electronics manufacturing companies Kevlin Corporation and Cobham. It has been vacant since Cobham consolidated its operations to New Hampshire, Buckley said.
New Balance is looking to turn the building into an advanced manufacturing site with research and development and 3D printing operations, according to a press release. The company has proposed a $15 million investment in the property and the creation of about 75 jobs, Buckley said.
“This is as exciting a business to attract to this community as you get,” he said, adding that New Balance has “a strong track record of good jobs and quality, innovative manufacturing. We’re happy to be able to site a facility that’s going to complement the work they’re currently doing in Lawrence.”
To make New Balance a reality in Methuen, the city is fast-tracking a zoning change to allow industrial manufacturing by special permit in the area. The building is located off Route 110 west of Interstate 93, near Jay Gee’s Ice Cream and Fun Center.
The Community Development Board voted favorably on the zoning change Tuesday, leaving it up to the City Council to approve it during its first meeting in January. From there, New Balance will have to get approval for two special permits — one for industrial manufacturing, and one for a research and development testing lab, Buckley said.
“We’ve tried to fast-track an approval for New Balance so they can be confident in their location here,” he said.
Buckley said the city is also in talks with the Massachusetts Office of Business Development “to see if there’s an incentive package that can be put together to close the deal.”
“New Balance is still in the due diligence phase. They’re analyzing the building for their needs,” Buckley said. “But I think it’s reached a point that we can cross some T’s and dot some I’s and make this happen.”
If the project proceeds as scheduled, New Balance estimates it could begin operations in Methuen in the next 12 to 18 months.
“We greatly appreciate the support of Mayor Jajuga and the Department of Economic & Community Development in helping us to achieve our goals of continued innovation in manufacturing and increased workforce opportunities,” Dow said.
Dow did not respond to a request for further comment as of press time.