ROCKPORT — Parking, traffic, and a slow permitting process may be scaring businesses away from Rockport, professor and noted economist Barry Bluestone told residents and business leaders Thursday night.
Nearly 70 people packed the Rockport Inn & Suites Thursday night to hear the results of Bluestone’s Economic Development Self Assessment Test — or EDSAT — which was commissioned by the Rockport Economic Development Committee for $4,500.
EDC head Lana Razdan said at the beginning of the meeting that the committee had been looking for a way to incorporate hard data into an economic action plan, and was inspired by Bluestone at the Cape Ann Chamber of Commerce Economic Development Breakfast.
She described the survey, which consisted of more than 200 questions, as “an intensive amount of work.” Bluestone went over the questions with the Committee afterward to extract the most truthful answers.
Razdan said Friday that she thought the meeting went well, and found the study outcome interesting.
“You’re based on fact and not on opinion,” she said of the results.
The results of the study were somewhat predictable: When people think of Rockport, Bluestone said, they think of a beautiful seaside community. But the economy has stagnated in the past 10 years after experiencing a peak in the early 2000s.
Young families are hard-pressed to move here, even if they want to, Bluestone and audience members noted, due to high real estate prices and a shortage of apartments, so an aging population is not balanced with millennials.
Bluestone said the survey uncovered some strengths in the community: A highly-educated, albeit small, workforce, lower rents, public transportation in the form of shuttles and the commuter rail, and the existing collaboration between the government and businesses to attract other businesses.