Economic Development

Southbridge's Economy

Just minutes off Route 20, via Route 169, and with high residential growth occurring in adjacent rural and suburban communities, the historical Town of Southbridge is poised for new economic growth.

With a large selection of available commercial and industrial properties, ample water and other infrastructure, and a unified property tax rate, Southbridge is a great place in which to consider locating or expanding your business.

Industrial History

Settled in 1730, and located on the Quinebaug River, the community started as a mill town, with saw mills, gristmills, and textile mills.  In the 20th century it was known unofficially as the “Eye of the Commonwealth” because of its optical manufacturing industry. For decades Southbridge was the headquarters of American Optical, the world’s largest manufacturer of ophthalmic products. At one time AO employed 6,000 people worldwide, over 5,000 in Southbridge alone!

Today’s Economy

Today manufacturing is still the Town’s largest employment sector, with over a dozen advanced manufacturers, many of them producing optics-related products. Southbridge manufacturers

Southbridge has a diversified economy beyond manufacturing, with a large number of employers in Professional & Business Services, Retail Trade, and Health Services. The Town is a regional health services center, with high-quality health care at Harrington Hospital, and its Healthcare System & Services.  Harrington is part of an elite list of only 182 hospitals nationwide to score seven consecutive "A" grades for patient satisfaction and quality measures. The Town is also a regional financial services center, with 18 financial establishments located here, including Southbridge Savings Bank, Savers bank, and Southbridge Credit Union.

The downtown is a showcase of historic architecture and the wide sidewalks and dense layout of the streets provide an interesting and pleasurable pedestrian experience.  Several unique restaurants and shops are clustered in the downtown neighborhoods.