PowerPlayer: Tim Murray, President and CEO of Worcester Chamber of Commerce
Monday, March 23, 2015
GoLocal Worcester had the privilege of interviewing Murray and asked him to reflect on the past few years and asked him about the potential the city of Worcester has in the coming years.
You are a life-long resident of Worcester with an impressive track-record of political involvement in the city and state. Can you tell us a bit about your experience and how that will shape your role as President and CEO of the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce?
I worked in the mailroom at the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce when I was in high school so I have a long-term understanding of the various roles a Chamber is expected to perform on behalf of its members. These include member services through programs and events, public policy development and advocacy as well as promoting important economic development objectives. As a life-long Worcester resident, I know the instrumental role the Chamber played in the establishment of the Biotech Park, the DCU Center and the Airport Industrial Park.
These are just a few of the many important projects that the Chamber has been involved in over the years and that have created jobs and expanded the tax base of the city. Each of these involved public / private partnerships, something I am very familiar with and have helped to create during my time in elected office. I see the Chamber playing a leading role in these types of collaborations, on many different levels, with a focus on job creation in Worcester and the region. The organizing theme on how we go about this work is based on three words, recruit, retain and incubate.
Part of your mission in the Chamber of Commerce is “recruit, retain and incubate aims to bring new businesses to the region.” Earlier this year, the Worcester Chamber announced the collaboration with Running Start and the Venture Forum to form StartUp Worcester. What are your goals for this partnership?
The goal of this partnership is to create as many possible venues where we can foster and support the creation of new, small businesses. The focus is to retain our intellectual talent, both students and faculty, from our local colleges and universities. Specifically, the partnership with Running Start and The Venture Forum to create StartUp Worcester aims to do just that. StartUp Worcester is part of the Chamber’s Higher Education – Business Partnership which is a broad effort solely focused on our institutions of higher education and linking them to our existing business community. We also continue to reach out to Worcester's immigrant communities to fully leverage this often overlooked resource. This community is very entrepreneurial and brings a tremendous work ethic to our city and region. We are also seeking ways to help them grow and flourish.
Recently there has been a lot of talk about the fate of the Pawtucket Red Sox. Some are urging the team to move to Worcester. What are your thoughts on the possibility of Worcester taking over the farm team?
The Worcester Bravehearts are owned by a Worcester resident who is both a homeowner and business owner in this city. The Creedon family pays taxes to this city and employs dozens of people with their business, Creedon and Co. They provide first class catering, event planning and tent services. And, importantly, they have spent their own money to bring a first class baseball product to Worcester. Nearly 2,000 people attended their home games at Holy Cross last year and they won the league championship – in their first season. I attended many games with my wife and family. Not only did we see quality baseball, it was a great, family-friendly experience every time we attended a game at Hanover Park at Fitton Field. The current president and general manager of the Pawtucket Red Sox, and the new ownership group, will be seeking significant public subsidies for this project from the state of Rhode Island as they abandon Pawtucket and relocate to Providence. Worcester should not get played or used as a negotiating pawn as we were 20 years ago by the Pawtucket leadership.
As President and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce, what are you top three priorities for 2015?
Recruit, Retain, and Incubate.
What are the biggest obstacles to achieving those priorities?
There are only 24 hours in each day and a limited inventory of local Class A office space and pre-permitted pad ready sites. We also need to expand our inventory of modern, commercial, industrial locations. We are making progress, but more work remains. The dual tax rate is also a challenge, and we hear this regularly from developers and investors when they run their numbers. We are working with the City Council to develop a plan to address this over time.
You have served as President and CEO since June of 2013. In that time in office, what has been your proudest accomplishment?
Increasing the level of collaboration with a range of groups and organizations in efforts aimed at creating jobs and expanding the tax base. We have also worked hard to improve communication and the quality of programming offered to our members. We have also raised the Chamber's profile in the community as well.
So, you are born-and-raised in Worcester. What is your favorite place for lunch in the city?
We have many great Chamber member restaurants that I try to frequent. I am proud of the fact that so many of Worcester's leading restaurant and food destinations are active members of the Chamber. And, increasing, our restaurant scene attracts many patrons from out of the area.
If you could have coffee with anyone in the world, who would it be with?
Pope Francis at one of Worcester's great breakfast spots.
Related Slideshow: The Ten Most Politically Powerful in Central MA
Senator Michael Moore
Senator Moore, D-Millbury, serves as the Massachusetts Senate Vice-Chair on the Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security.
In November, Moore was named the Vice-Chair of the National Conference of State Legislatures’ Standing Committee on Law, Justice and Public Safety.
“I am honored to be appointed the Vice-Chair of the NCSL’s Standing Committee on Law, Justice and Public Safety,” said Moore “This appointment will provide me the opportunity to continue to advocate and promote important public safety issues to ensure the safety of residents in the Commonwealth.”
Matt Beaton- Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs
Like Polito, Beaton is from Shrewsbury and served as State Rep. for Worcester’s 11th District before being named Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs by Governor Baker.
Baker said that Beaton had the right experience to carry out green energy initiatives and that his leadership will be an important asset to accomplish goals throughout the Commonwealth.
Beaton has experience serving on the Ways and Means, and the Environment, Natural Resources, and Agriculture committees. Beaton will take charge of the administration's task of creating energy efficiency, conservation and improved outdoor recreation.
Worcester City Manager Ed Augustus
City Manager Augustus has solid relationships at the top of both political parties in the state. He is an avid supporter of Congressman Jim McGovern and he has recently celebrated that Karyn Polito, from Shrewsbury, will be the Lt. Governor.
"Central Massachusetts is proud to once again have one of our own in the Lieutenant Governor’s office. I look forward to working with the new administration to continue the work of bringing economic development to the Heart of the Commonwealth, improving the standard of living, and ensuring government works for all residents, regardless of class or status," said Augustus.
Sheriff Lew Evangelidis
Following eight years as State Legislature, in 2010 Lew Evangelidis was elected as Worcester County Sheriff.
With his political background, Evangelidis has gained both visibility and a reputation for getting things done in Worcester County. On Friday night, Evangelidis gave a speech at the Governor Baker and Lt. Governor Polito's Inauguration Celebraton.
O'Brien spent nine years as Worcester's City Manager before stepping down in late 2013.
"Mike is certainly a valuable asset to any Governor. His public service is his great strength," said Connie Lukes, former Mayor of Worcester and current Worcester City Councilor. "Central Mass. is going to have a voice in the Governor's office, and is really becoming a political machine."
O'Brien serves as Baker's Co-Chair of the State of the State Committee and was a central figure during the Baker and Lt. Governor Polito's Central Mass Inauguration Celebration last Friday.
Senator Ryan Fattman
In November, State Representative Ryan Fattman of Webster defeated incumbent Richard Moore (D) for the South Central Massachusetts Senate Seat. The victory was a huge upset for Fattman who continues to make a remarkable climb up the Massachusetts political ladder.
By winning the State Senate election, Fattman has established a Republican foundation in Central Massachusetts and has helped the Republican party gain control of the State House.
"Tim Murray, Gov. Baker, and Karen Polito share many concerns and ideas about the importance of economic development and job opportunities; sound budgets and sensible policies can create a certain momentum and confidence in investors and business leaders that Massachusetts is in capable hands; Tim Murray's current constituencies are the Central Mass. Chambers of Commerce. Those constituencies were and are for the most part eager Baker/Polito supporters. I anticipate that they'll make some beautiful music together, as they share the same economic development/ jobs hymnal. Call Baker a 'Murray Republican' or call Murray a 'Baker Democrat'," said Tom Finneran, former Speaker of the House and GoLocal MINDSETTER™.
Senator Harriet Chandler
Beginning her eigth term, Senator Harriet Chandler is likely to play important Committee and caucus roles under the new Senate President.
She also serves as the Co-Chair of the Prevention for Health Caucus, Co-Chair of the Regional Transit Authority (RTA) Legislative Caucus, Co-Chair of the Central Massachusetts Caucus, and Co-Chair of the Oral Health Caucus.
"Through hard work and persistence, she has become a leader who ensures that the concerns of Central Massachusetts communities are heard at the State House, " said State Rep. Jim O'Day.
Lt. Governor Karyn Polito
As reported by GoLocal last week, former Speaker of the House Tom Finneran said this about Polito: "Governor Baker and Lt. Governor Polito have strong histories with the Legislature; watch for Central Mass. legislators, Democrats and Republicans, to work closely with the Administration...Lt. Governor Polito's first-hand knowledge and experience regarding transportation needs in Central Mass. mirrors Tim Murray's; look for the two of them working together in perfect harmony; Governor Baker will pay close attention and Central Mass. will be the beneficiary. There's no political ego here---just a determination to make Massachusetts as great a state as it can be."
Congressman Jim McGovern
Following his successful, but long-time bid to initiate relations with Cuba once again, Congressman McGovern proved he has weight to pull both locally and nationally.
In an interview with GoLocal Worcester regarding McGovern, MINDSETTER™ Paul Giorgio said "If you want to get things done, you need a partner in Washington. You can’t get things done solely on the backs of Worcester tax payers. You need federal dollars. You need state dollars. $10 million to renovate City Square, most of that money isn’t coming from Worcester. It’s state money. Funding for JetBlue, that’s federal money, that’s FAA money."
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