The Lowell High-Tech Success Story: What Went Wrong?

by Ross J. Gittell and Patricia M. Flynn
March/April 1995

Ten years ago Lowell, Massachusetts was a high-tech success story. After several decades of stagnation, the Lowell area had emerged as a thriving center for high-technology employment. The Lowell story was viewed as a "model for reindustrialization" for older cities throughout the world. In recent years Lowell has once again become the focus of international attention, this time as an example of a failed economic development strategy. Widespread layoffs and plant closings within its computer industry, particularly the collapse of Wang Laboratories, have dealt a crushing blow to the local economy. This article analyzes the boom and bust periods the Lowell economy experienced with high-technology employment, identifying what went wrong and what might have been done to mitigate the impacts of economic and industrial change.

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