The Gardner News
By Jean-Paul Salamanca
Tuesday, May 05, 2009
GARDNER — By now, it is commonplace for people across the city, state and nation to be aware of the ongoing economic crisis that has thrown financial markets across the globe into a tailspin. Particularly in the city, the effect of the crisis has been seen and felt through the closings of businesses and rising unemployment numbers among its residents.
However, in the midst of this news, city officials and business leaders have pointed toward one place where, amid a challenging economic downturn, there are signs of economic life.
New England Peptide CEO Dave Robinson reported that despite the dismal financial markets, the Gardner-based company has been experiencing growth.
“In the local area, we’ve seen our top-line growth increase by 20 percent more than last year,” he said.
The Greater Gardner Chamber of Commerce will award the company with the Business of the Year award as the chamber hosts its 2009 Annual Meeting and Awards Recognition Dinner today in Leominster.
Chamber President and CEO Michael Ellis had previously commended the company for its “attempts to grow and inspire confidence in the local community.”
The majority of the 30 job hires the company made in the past year were based locally, Mr. Robinson said.
Mr. Robinson said the company, which was previously located in Fitchburg, examined numerous factors before it decided to make its move to Gardner in 2003, among them easier access to work force talent, universities and institutions, and the proximity the company would have to many of its customers, particularly in Worcester and Boston.
“There are numerous cost advantages in Gardner that made the move a sensible one,” he said.
One of the programs the company has been involved with is a partnership with Mount Wachusett Community College, where the company has offered internships and work force training to college students involved in the college’s biotechnology and biomanufacturing programs.
The company has hired one person from the college’s first graduating class of the program on a full-time basis.
“We are always looking for great people, and we are very excited to see how the partnership (with the college) is evolving,” Mr. Robinson said.
The cooperation of the city’s elected officials and business leaders has also been a key factor in the company’s efforts to grow. Mr. Robinson cited the efforts of Mayor Mark Hawke for facilitating meetings with officials from the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center in November to obtain $12 million in grant funding for a Food and Drug Administration-registered facility in Summit Industrial Park to make peptides for use in humans for clinical trials and commercial purposes. The grants could create more than 200 jobs for the company within the city.
“I have been to visit New England Peptide, and was so impressed with the level of commitment they bring to their work, and to the broader life sciences community in Massachusetts,” stated Dr. Susan Windham-Bannister, president and CEO of the life sciences center, in a press release statement. “They are good corporate citizens, as evidenced by the innovative work force development partnership they are sponsoring with (MWCC). The recognition they are receiving is well deserved.”
Mr. Robinson said that while the award was unexpected, the company was both honored and excited to receive it.
“We’re honored to receive this award, and it’s a testament to how our team does business,” he said.