Not everyone is joining the crowds in Boston these days.
SharkNinja just moved into a 175,000-square-foot headquarters in a Needham office park, putting its local 400-person workforce under one roof.
President Mark Barrocas hopes to hire another 100 people there over the next two years, as the $1.7 billion consumer products company grows its cooking business alongside its core vacuum and blender lines. (Robot vacuums apparently might be on the horizon, but that’s another story.)
When it came time to move from his old Newton office, Barrocas didn’t look too far because he was concerned about disrupting workers' commutes.
SharkNinja becomes part of a trio of anchors in what's being promoted as the N-Squared Innovation District. The others: TripAdvisor, which opened anew headquarters in 2015, and NBC, which just received a $2 million property tax break for a new regional center.
The trick for the Newton Needham Regional Chamber: persuading major employers to move there from outside the area.
Business leaders need to address the car congestion and find a better way to connect with the public transit options just outside of reasonable walking distance. Some possible solutions: chipping in for shuttle buses, for example, or a new road into one of the office parks.
Plus, there’s the coolness factor. Employees increasingly want restaurants, bars, and shops nearby -- not just other offices. Amenities are coming, though, as the critical mass of workers builds.
The nondescript border between Newton and Needham isn’t the first place you would pick for a thriving innovation district. But if local business leaders can solve a few key issues, they just might pull it off.