Amesbury has a rich history in Innovation and making things when you dig below the current surface of downtown. Check out the newly opened Industrial History Museum and learn about all of the mills in different industries – like machining, wood, textiles, horse drawn carriages, right up to electric vehicles around 1910. That is correct, Amesbury manufactured EV’s in 1910 by Bailey Electric and we have one on display at 11 Chestnut St. Amesbury was a supplier throughout the New England region and the US. Amesbury also built sailing vessels along the PowWow River. This history of accomplishments has become lost to many residents and students, as is unfortunately the case with local history. The City of Amesbury should be celebrating this history and sharing it, both within the city and beyond. At CI Works, we became aware of this history of makers / manufacturers and the diversity of industries in Amesbury through the efforts of John Mayer at the Industrial History Center (picture below). These industries were located along the PowWow River which was the source of electrical power for these businesses, abutting the downtown. This is exactly what the state of Massachusetts refers to with ‘Revitalizing Downtowns’ and would be a willing partner for Amesbury.
When CI Works commenced in Amesbury in 2016, we were recruited by then Mayor Ken Gray in locating a property in the Lower Millyard Overlay District that was one of those original mills, built in 1916, and part of the carriage trade. The building was being exited by another company that had outgrown it and Mayor Gray was determined to not have any more empty mill buildings in / around downtown Amesbury on his watch. CIWorks then decided to not try to transform the building – built to manufacture – into residential space as many other developers have done, but to leverage the buildings bones to be a manufacturing center for small businesses. Amesbury’s manufacturing history was diverse, so we decided we would also be open across industries with two caveats – limiting use of toxic materials in the products and encouraging reuse of existing materials like wood in products, when feasible. We have filled a 50,000 sq. ft. building with over forty companies that are now making products in Amesbury.
The CI Works building facilitates the needs of these companies in shipping / receiving, manufacturing and assembly, and storage of products. These companies are accomplishing two things through innovation and perseverance, they are both constantly evolving and adapting and they are growing sales and revenues. Most have adapted to the recent COVID crisis through ingenuity – they have adapted their business models – particularly in product distribution – to where consumers are buying products at this time during COVID. The products are not trying to compete with Amazon, making products that are unique, sustainability focused, and MADE IN AMESBURY!