December 25, 2017
Economic Forecast 2018

Biomanufacturing, recreational cannabis and beer will highlight a big year for manufacturing

Drugmaker Bristol-Myers Squibb built a $1 billion facility in Devens.

Although biomanufacturing has been a bit slow to take hold in the region, there's only optimism for the budding industry.

Longtime manufacturers are still going strong and reporting strong revenues, and new and exciting players are champing at the bit to be part of the area's strong manufacturing history.

The biomanufacturing industry will increase its presence in Central Massachusetts

Perhaps on the momentum created by Insulet's coming $100-million manufacturing facility in Acton, the region should see more biomanufacturing companies locate in Central Massachusetts.

The now closed Worcester State Hospital is set to become a biomanufacturing campus.

The industry hasn't quite taken hold like we once thought it would, as many companies making news are closer to larger cities like Boston.

A planned 44-acre biotech campus at the former Worcester State Hospital should gain some ground in 2018 after a prospective anchor tenant, LakePharma, pulled out of the project this year.

There are a litany of public and private programs aimed at addressing the critical need of manufacturing employment, and with biomanufacturing becoming increasingly important in today's world, that sector should continue its slow but steady growth.

An increasing amount of higher education programs should help grow the employee and business base, including a new master of business administration program with a concentration in biotechnology at Framingham State University.

Longtime Worcester-area traditional manufacturers will continue to thrive

Traditional manufacturers in Greater Worcester have been able to sustain as profitable companies even as they face a shortage of workers. The impressive list includes Table Talk Pies, Rand-Whitney Container, MTD Micro Molding, Security Engineered Machinery and Riverdale Mills.

Courtesy/MTD Micro Molding
MTD Micro Molding in Charlton has found success by making small parts for medical devices.

These companies have shown manufacturing is no longer a dirty, labor-intensive job. It's now an industry full of highly technical machines requiring extensive training and education.

Like craft beer making, the legal marijuana industry will find its way into Central Massachusetts

When recreational marijuana establishments are allowed to apply for licenses in April, Central Massachusetts will be a landing spot.

Probably due to red tape and the abundance of residential neighborhoods, the medical marijuana industry has been slow to realize Central Massachusetts as a destination, with just one dispensary currently open.

A number of vacant mill buildings are just waiting to be utilized and breathe life back into neighborhoods, restoring the manufacturing history of Central Massachusetts.

We've similarly seen craft beer take hold in the region, with some breweries pumping out an enormous amount of product, like Tree House Brewing Co. and Wormtown Brewing.

If 2017 was any indicator, 2018 should be another huge year for beer, and probably weed.


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