The latest Natick, Mass., business news:
The plan to make Natick a tourism destination
Natick is exploring the possibility of participating in something called a Tourism Destination Marketing District in an effort to encourage more people to visit here and to drum up more activity for hotels and other local businesses and organizations, plus generate additional tax revenue for the town.
Natick’s Economic Development Committee, an advisory group appointed by the Select Board, discussed the idea over the summer and unanimously supported it.
Steve Levinsky from the MetroWest Boston Visitors Bureau presented the idea to the Select Board at its Oct. 4 meeting. The bureau, which seeks to stimulate tourism and travel in the area, represents Natick and 18 other communities. Ashland’s on board, and other communities such as Franklin and Westborough are in discussions.
Under a Tourism Destination Marketing District, hotels tack on (yet another) charge, this one to help fund local and regional marketing of the area. Funds raised would go 60% toward regional marketing and 40% toward more local activities. The visitors bureau is looking at a 2% charge on hotel bills.
Getting Ashland and Natick to take part would amount to more than 800 hotel rooms (most in Natick), and this would raise an estimated $600K for marketing and related purposes. Getting all 19 communities involved could raise $4.1M, Levinsky said. “So this is a game changer, no doubt about it,” he said.
If 62% of hotels in an area participate, then they all have to. So far, half of Natick’s 4 qualifying hotels are committed, so at least 1 more would need to say ‘Yes.”
Boston and other areas have already started these marketing districts and are reaping millions in rewards. “Basically we don’t want MetroWest to get out-marketed and out-promoted,” Levinsky said.
Funds could be used for things like attending trade shows, wooing athletic events to the area, and say, become advertising partners with actual local news sites (we’ve seen other Massachusetts tourism programs focus on traditional media sites). Public hearings would be held to discuss issues such as how funding would be spent.
Select Board member Paul Joseph said funds could be used on capital projects that would benefit local businesses. Blue-skying, Joseph said he could envision a time when the mall is used in part for a competitive sport or league that would draw many people here from other areas.
Paper Fiesta gets TV love
Downtown Natick’s Paper Fiesta, a paper products and gift shop opened in 2018, got some love from WCVB-TV, which profiled owner Paula Dunbar and the business. “I just love that whole aspect of people coming in for their fiestas and being joyful with their celebrations,” says Dunbar, who takes inspiration from her Guatemalan roots.
Electric Hydrogen reels in $380M
Natick’s Electric Hydrogen has raised $380M in Series C financing to help fund its manufacturing and deployment plans.
The company says: “EH2’s electrolyzer systems produce green hydrogen from renewable electricity and water. Green hydrogen is needed for decarbonizing vital industrial processes such as fertilizer production, steelmaking, base chemicals and many others.”
The company is installing manufacturing equipment in its Devens, Mass., factory, which it expects will start deliveries to a a big energy company in Texas next year.