Menino wants more venture-backed firms to relocate to Seaport District
By Casey Ross, Globe Staff
Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino today announced an effort to lure venture-capital funded companies to the Seaport District and open a public “Innovation Center’ to encourage collaboration among those firms.
Menino, speaking at a business lunch hosted by Boston College, said the new initiatives are intended to encourage more development of the South Boston waterfront, where builders are struggling to move forward with large construction projects because of the lingering effects of the recession.
The mayor also unveiled plans for a “solar challenge” to get building owners and others in the seaport to generate one megawatt of solar power within the next two years. That would be enough to power 250 homes.
“On our waterfront, Boston is creating one of the great economic clusters in the country,” Menino declared in the speech before a crowd of Boston business leaders. He added that one of the district’s largest projects, Seaport Square, is scheduled to moved forward in the next year and has already selected architects for some of its new buildings.
“Boston is creating more jobs than almost any big city in the country,” Menino said. “We were third fastest city for job growth last year.”
The mayor said his new venture capital initiative will further those efforts by bringing more companies to the seaport. He did not identify any economic incentives to attract the firms, but his administration recently used millions of dollars of tax incentives to lure Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc. to the waterfront.
Menino also said he intends to launch an energy audit in the Marine Industrial Park to identify additional ways to conserve energy use in the area. The district already serves as headquarters for SatCon, the largest manufacturer of solar inverters in North America.
“These efforts won’t just reduce costs and conserve energy,” the mayor said, “they will also make Boston a great customer for the product our companies invent.”