It's been clear for a long while now — the only route out of the economic slump will be risk, and growth, by the private sector. Our economy and prosperity will improve as entrepreneurs lead the way with new industries that open new markets. It's always been America's path from slump to success.

And so, congratulations are in order to the Newburyport Clean Tech Center, a "green growth" private sector initiative that is trying to make Newburyport a hub for next generation energy-saving technologies. Clearly, there is a bright future for innovation that reinvents basic technologies that are in widespread use, such as lighting, heating and power generation.

Last week the center celebrated its first success story. Solais, a company that specializes in light-emitting diode, or LED, technology, announced that it will be moving into space in the city's industrial park that is being rented by the center. The year-old company had been located in Connecticut and hopes to expand.

The Tech Center, formed by successful local businessmen Doug McDougall, Art Currier, Mark Friery and Robert O'Brien, has some simple, commonsense goals. It provides low-rent spaces in Newburyport's industrial park to start-ups. It reduces start-up costs that are usually incurred by consultants. It helps coach and educate company managers. And it helps set goals for company growth. Its goal is to provide some of the basic infrastructure that can be an enormous burden on a start-up company, thus allowing the company to focus more intently on its product.

The Tech Center has a list of goals for itself that, if successful, will be a benefit to the city of Newburyport as a whole. It hopes to launch 10 to 15 companies over the course of a decade, with a total payroll of up to 400 jobs. It plans to solicit dozens of proposals from entrepreneurs and narrow down its choices to the most viable candidates. It wants to be a recognized leader in its field. The center wants to be here for the long haul.

Mayor Donna Holaday has shown good leadership by embracing the Tech Center's goals and acting as the center's biggest booster in the public sector. It's been one of her campaign goals to bring more green businesses to the city, and the Tech Center clearly fits in well with that agenda.

If this succeeds and grows, Newburyport's industrial park would see a new flurry of activity. New jobs, new tax revenue and a boost to the local economy will be seen. It has always been the mission of the industrial park to be the quiet engine that helps drive Newburyport's economic success, and the Tech Center will be yet another quiet engine that boosts the city.

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