Quincy lures tech firms

July 15, 2014

City draws startups like RasLabs, Bluefin Labs with cheaper space

By Jordan Graham

Quincy is throwing its hat into the Massachusetts technology ring, trying to lure growing high tech and life sciences companies — and the coveted jobs they bring with them — to the City of Presidents.

“We’ve really been working hard to put the pieces together to make Quincy more attractive for investment,” said Quincy Mayor Thomas Koch.

Koch said Quincy can be a good fit for companies that need a bit more space than Boston offers, particularly for light manufacturing.

Recently, Quincy sent two economic development officials to a global biotechnology conference in San Diego to pitch Quincy as a good home, and joined the newly created Life Sciences Corridor, a joint effort with Cambridge, Boston, Somerville and Braintree to market the region to companies.

Medical device company RasLabs, a former MassChallenge finalist, unveiled its new office and lab space in Quincy Thursday.

It is moving from Boston’s Innovation District.

“This is a magnificent spot,” RasLabs CEO Eric Sandberg said, referring to the new office. “It was everything we were looking for, there’s room to expand.”

RasLabs had been working out of MassChallenge and looked for office space in the Innovation District, but did not find a good fit.

RasLabs, which makes synthetic muscles, joins Boston Scientific and Bluefin Labs, makers of underwater drones, in Quincy.

Bluefin, which came into the spotlight when its underwater drones were used in the search for the missing Malaysian airliner, was offered tax incentives to move to Quincy, Koch said.

Bluefin CEO and president David Kelly said the company chose Quincy because of a supportive Quincy government as well as “the Fore River Shipyard, which offers water access and ample factory space.”

Similar tax incentives could be used in the future to draw new companies to the city.

“We use any tool or resource we can to help...the economy of our city,” Koch said.

Quincy, where the unemployment rate is just 4.8 percent, according to the state, is still trying to expand its economy.

“For Quincy, or any community, it’s important to do as much as you can to diversify your economy and your commercial base so you’re not relying on one industry sector,” said Dean Rizzo, president of the Quincy Chamber of Commerce.

Still, growing companies need more than just cheaper office space.

Part of Quincy’s effort is creating an attractive ecosystem for companies, as well as a pipeline for future talent.

Quincy College has a new 1,600 square foot biotech lab, funded by the U.S. Department of Labor and the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center.

Koch added: “It’s been a real concerted effort to open our world a little bit.”