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Robert Whitcomb: New Main Streets; Lifespan’s Threat; & University Bloat

Monday, April 17, 2017

 

Robert Whitcomb

Louis Hyman, an economic historian and the director of the Institute for Workplace Studies at  Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations, has a useful piece in the April 9 New York Times headlined “The Myth of Main Street: Don’t Listen to President Trump. Going back to the good old days will cost us.’’ (The article is accompanied by charming (if, er, manipulated) pictures of the old mill town of Dover, N.H.).

 

Mr. Hyman’s basic argument is that it’s far too late to try to reconstitute the small, inefficient stores with high prices that used to characterize small-town retailing. Many of these establishments thrived back when there were “fair trade laws’’ {set by state legislators to keep a floor under the prices of goods} and  before the acceleration of globalization, when so many U.S. companies, including manufacturers, discovered foreign suppliers.

 

The Main Street-style stores also prospered before the invasion of huge U.S.  big-box chain stores with lower prices (in part because of cheap foreign suppliers) and a much wider variety of stuff for sale and usually built at the periphery of communities where there was lots of parking space. Now many of those chains are suffering as Amazon and other Internet operations steal a lot of their business.

 

Professor Hyman says that small towns have plenty to be hopeful about.

 

 “It’s true that the digital economy, centered in a few high-tech cities, has left Main Street America behind. But it does not need to be this way. Today, for the first time, thanks to the Internet, small-town America can pull back money from Wall Street (and big cities more generally). Through global freelancing platforms like Upwork, for example, rural and small-town Americans can find jobs anywhere in the world, using abilities and talents they already have. …Through an e-commerce website like Etsy, an Appalachian woodworker can create custom pieces and sell them anywhere in the world.

Main Street, East Greenwich

‘’Americans, regardless of education or geographical location, have marketable skills in the global economy: They speak English and understand the nuances of communicating with Americans — something that cannot be easily shipped overseas. The United States remains the largest consumer market in the world, and Americans can (and some already do) sell these services abroad.

Bottom of Form

 But, “…. Right now we are too fixated on ‘upskilling’ coal miners into data miners. We should instead be showing people how to get work via digital platforms with their existing skills.

 

‘’The reality of global economics means that Main Street is a place of nostalgia, but again, that has long been the case. What’s novel is that today, the underlying values of Main Street — living and working with autonomy in your own small community — can be attained, as long as you are willing to find that work online.’’

 

In New England, more than in most of the United States there are many attractive (even “quaint’’) and socially and environmentally stable towns and small cities.  Thus there are powerful social and aesthetic reasons to try to stay in them. The Internet offers many ways to make that economically plausible.

 

Meanwhile, spiffed up (faux?) versions of Main Street can be found in affluent parts of big and mid-size cities and in college towns. (A good example in Providence is Wayland Square, close to Brown University and high-end retirement communities.) There, the mostly well-heeled residents can afford the high prices of local, nonfranchised stores and restaurants. But the idea of restoring the 1920s idea of Main Street for everybody is delusional.

 

I remember the tail end of the model in the ‘50s, before the Interstate Highway System. The little town I lived had a cute downtown, with post office, grocery store with sawdust on the floor (before OSHA!), a clothing store  and liquor store (often the busiest place in town) but a remarkably narrow range of things to buy.

 

You’d very often run into people you knew in this village center, but that wasn’t always such a great thing. Most of these small towns were closer to Peyton Place than the precious small towns (e.g., Stockbridge, Mass.) evoked by Norman Rockwell, who had plenty of demons himself. But there were three old churches at our village center, and in the Eisenhower administration they were often filled, with ambiguous effects on local behavior.

 

 xxx

 

Lifespan

Lifespan is making another run at taking over Care New England: If such a merger is approved, there would be at least two almost inevitable results.  CNE senior executives would get big golden parachutes and the post-merger Lifespan would use its near-monopoly pricing power to jack up prices, as has happened with other hospital-system mergers around America.

xxx

 

New York State, like Rhode Island and some other states,  has been getting into the “free’’ (or partly free) college tuition business. I wonder how effective such deals will be in educating, and retaining in-state,  future workers if K-12 isn’t adequate. I also wonder whether the idea, which seems associated with these “free college’’ plans, that everyone should become members of the “professional’’ class is as silly as it sounds. But that’s what politicians often seem to be implying when they back such programs.

 

Consider a recent Bryant University survey that shows that 60 percent of Rhode Island voters back “free’’ college tuition for two years at Rhode Island public colleges and more than half  support various schemes to phase out local car taxes. The end of the car tax could deprive the localities of so much revenue that they’ll demand more state financial aid, which then might require raising state income and/or sales taxes to address a state budget deficit.

 

Ah, the joys of governing! Citizens always want more services and lower taxes.

xxx

 

There’s  a move underway to require licenses for pet groomers in Rhode Island.  That would be yet another addition to the swamp of unneeded regulations in which entrepreneurialism can drown. Individuals can cut their pets’ hair for free and without the state telling them how to do it.

 

If owners want to hire someone to do it for them, they can investigate the background of the groomers and/or watch them at work. Then they can exercise their own common sense (remember that?) in deciding whether to hire them. We have allowed far too much government micro-management of too many activities. We need fewer regulations and statutes and better enforcement of the remaining ones.

xxx

 

I predicted last year on my friend Bruce Newbury’s radio show on WADK that Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo’s popularity would rise with the sense that the state’s economy was improving.  Rhode Islanders, famous for their pessimism and suspiciousness, now generally believe that that the state is on the upswing. The jobless rate is now below the national average and a building boom is underway in Providence. Much of the improvement is cyclical and has little to do with who the governor is. But some of it is due to the sense that Ms. Raimondo generally knows what she is doing when it comes to pumping up business.

 

But we’re past the time in a national economic cycle when the economy usually starts heading into another recession. In the last half-century, Rhode Island has more often than not been among the first states to go into recession and among the last to leave. Have there been enough structural changes to make things different this time?

 

Given the small bench of Democratic governors and senators, the improving Ocean State economy may mean that Ms. Raimondo has a chance of going on the party’s presidential ticket in 2020 – assuming, of course,  that she can win re-election by a big margin next year.

xxx

What is President Trump’s Syria policy? Given his erratic and inexperienced administration, and near-constant contradictions, it’s impossible to know. It’s not even exactly clear why he ordered the missile attack on the Syrian air base (which I backed) from which dictator Bashar Assad’s air force flew off to murder some more civilians with poison gas, probably with the Kremlin’s assistance. 

The president seemed genuinely upset by the Assad-Putin alliance’s latest outrage. But the runway at the air field wasn’t bombed and so Assad’s pilots soon flew off again after the U.S. attack to  murder some more civilians, albeit not with poison gas that time. Why wasn’t the runway bombed?

So dishonest and sometimes crazy  have  been Mr. Trump and many of his associates about so many things that conspiracy theories are rife. One is that the attack and very recent tough talk about the Russians has been meant to divert the public attention from leading Trump administration figures’ close and corrupt ties with Vladimir Putin’s murderous kleptocracy.  But, again, who knows? Indeed different members of Mr. Trump’s foreign-policy team, including his family, seem to each have their own foreign policies. Chaos reigns.

But one thing is certain: Goldman Sachs will be involved in all major decisions.

xxx

 

Sean Spicer, the White House spokesman, is both poorly informed (like his boss) and not very smart, unlike his boss, who has a sort of feral street smarts. I think I understood what Mr. Spicer was trying to say the other day when he said that even Hitler didn’t use poison gas against civilians. Of course, Hitler murdered millions of people, many of them Germans, with poison gas in his extermination camps. Mr. Spicer was, I believe, trying to say that the German military didn’t use poison gas in direct military action, unlike in  World War I, when the Germans introduced this horrific weapon on the Western Front.

 

But having dug himself into a hole, Mr. Spicer kept digging as he tried to explain his way out of his public-relations mess. It’s just another sign that he probably won’t have his job for long, whatever his loyalty to Donald Trump.

 

xxx

 

The severe fiscal problems of the University of Massachusetts at Boston are pretty representative of those of much of higher education: Endless over-budget building as  college presidents seek to erect monuments to themselves; the hiring of ever more overpaid administrators with vague and trendy titles even as tuitions surge, and ever higher percentages of faculties are “adjuncts’’ who barely earn minimum wage. Meanwhile, too many schools strive to be complicated research universities instead of focusing on teaching because “research’’ sounds much more glamorous.

 

What UMass Boston (and the state) needs is  for it to be a first-class local “commuter’’ school focused on teaching, and to leave the research to UMass’s flagship institution – UMass at Amherst and the state’s famous private research universities. UMass Boston will never win an arms race with UMass Amherst, let alone Harvard and MIT.

 

An example of the vacuous jobs being created at UMass Boston: Tom Sannicandro, a former state legislator from Ashland, Mass., just got the job of  “director of the Institute for Community Inclusion’’ at  a $165,000-a-year  salary, along with juicy benefits.  Keith Motley, the now ousted chancellor (basically president but chancellor sounds more royal) whose oversize ambitions  and edifice complex at the institution helped put it into a deficit of tens of millions of dollars, will now go on sabbatical with a salary of $355,059.  His salary last year was $422,000.

 

When that long vacation is over, Mr. Motley, a professional bureaucrat and former basketball coach, will return as a $240,000-a-year faculty member teaching…? Well, that hasn’t be disclosed.

 

What a scam.

 

The corruption that has produced obscene compensation for public company C-suites, regardless of how well they do their jobs, has long since infected public and private higher education, too.

xxx

It’s sounds very sci-fi, but excitement is slowly growing about Hyperloop transportation systems, in which magnetically levitated trains carry passengers and freight inside a low-pressure tube at the speed of sound. One of the companies pushing for them is Hyperloop One, which has identified 11 routes across America where Hyperloops might be built.

 

By far the shortest and therefore the cheapest such route being proposed is Providence-Somerset- (to serve the Fall River area) -Boston – a 64-mile route that could take less than 10 minutes to travel. That this route is in a densely populated area whose residents are used to mass transit makes it more attractive. (By the way, Holly McNamara, a  Somerset selectwoman, proposed the stop in that town.)

 

How much would it cost? No one really knows, but certainly several billion dollars.

 

Still, some engineers think that Hyperloops could be cheaper than regular high-speed rail to construct. The giant consultancy  KMPG did a study that concluded that the per-mile cost of building a Hyperloop could be more than 25 percent less expensive than building California’s planned high-speed rail to link Los Angeles and San Francisco.

 

Of course it all seems surreal now, but as former U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said about the Hyperloop idea:

 

“The airplane was pie-in-the-sky, the car was pie-in-the-sky, virtually every mode of transportation we enjoy today was at one a point pie-in-the-sky idea. We have to accept that there’s a stretch here. But it’s a stretch that can yield pretty significant benefits. What surface transportation mode today can get 700 miles per hour? None. There’s a huge opportunity, we just have to be willing to do what it takes to get there.”

 

But, as he told Recode:  “The technology, the science behind it, is very sound, but it’s one of those examples of, the technology may be there before the government is. Will it happen some place? Absolutely, I’m sure it will. Not even sure it’s going to happen first in the U.S. to be honest, but I think there’ll be some proof points out there to show that Hyperloop is a real thing.”

 

Obviously, federal rail regulations would have to be dramatically changed to include 700-mph trains!

 

xxx

 

After four years of controversy, construction of the Welcome Center, in a lovely, cozy new garden setting, at The Breakers in Newport will start in a few weeks. It's a pity that the actions of a small number of people in America’s hyper-litigious society have  prevented for so long the building of such an attractive and low-key facility, with a restaurant and restrooms, instead of the current no food and port-a-potties under a tent to deal with 400,000 visitors  year!

 

“This is a major milestone toward the creation of the kind of world class hospitality that we feel a National Historic Landmark should provide for its visitors,” said Monty Burnham, chairman of the board of the Preservation Society of Newport County. “With this step we move toward offering our visitors the hospitality they deserve, and that they enjoy at museums and historic sites around the world.’’

 

Quite right. This is great news for Newport.

 

xxx

 

It doesn’t seem at all unfair to make in-state residency a requirement for firefighting and police jobs in Rhode Island. They should have a direct stake in the state where they’re charged with protecting the public and whose taxes pay their wages and benefits. But, reports GoLocalProv, state Rep. David Bennett, who has gotten more than $25,000 in donations from unions and labor political action committees since getting elected, is sponsoring irresponsible legislation to let out-of-state residents be eligible for such jobs. This bill needs to be killed now.

 

xxx

 

Seeing tree buds swell and drop their red scales on the sidewalks and the smell of moist warm earth are among the nicest things about this time of year.

 

Related Slideshow: Worcester’s 25 Wealthiest and Most Influential

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#25

Mel Cutler - CIO and Founder of Cutler Capital Management

 

Not only did Cutler found Cutler Capital Management, but he also is the founder of two banks - Flagship Bank & Trust and Madison Banc Shares.

Cutler Capital Management has $325 million in assets.The Melvin S. Cutler Charitable Foundation has more than $8 million in assets. He has been influential in business and in philanthropy for decades.

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#24

Bernie Rotman, Rotman's Furniture

 

Rotman has been in the family business for 35 years - with Rotman's Furniture in College Square - a landmark next to I-290.

He and his brother Barry have been running the business taking over for their parents Murray and Ida.

In the 1990's, Rotman's Furniture seemed like it was the only furniture store. In the day they dominated advertising - their TV spots ran in Providence and Boston markets.  Today, with Bob's and Jordan's in the market it is a lot more competitive.

In the early 1990s, Rotman’s partnered with the Central Mass Housing Authority (CMHA) to work with Donations Clearinghouse to donate used furniture to families in need. The family has been a major supporter for Walk for Homeless.

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#23

Charles and Janet Birbira - Owners of Beechwood Hotel

 

In 2015, the Birbiras invested in a multi-million dollar renovation of the Beechwood Hotel to make it more luxurious and upscale.

It’s already the most luxurious in Worcester - they’re aiming for the entirety of the remaining state west of Boston.

The Ceres Bistro cost was $9 million to add to the hotel back in 2010.

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#22

J. Robert Seder - Lawyer

 

In 2014, Seder was named the Worcester Corporate Lawyer of the Year. He was also named in 2014 as one of the Best Lawyers in America for Bankruptcy and Creditor Debtor Rights/Insolvency and Reorginzation Law.

He owns property in Worcester totaling nearly $6 million.

A partner at Seder & Chandler Law, Seder is also the former chair of the Worcester Business Development Corporation.

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#21

David Fields - Managing Partner, Wormtown Brewery

 

Former owner of Consolidated Beverages, Fields recently sold the company (which he and his father spent millions on ten years ago) to Quality Beverage.

Fields now solely focuses on Wormtown Brewery which just opened on Shrewsbury Street in March. Fields owns majority interest in the company - using the millions he made in the Consolidated Beverages sale to invest into Wormtown.

Fields is one of the youngest on the GoLocalWorcester list of the 25 Wealthiest and Most Influential.

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#20

Sue Mailman - President and CEO of Coghlin Electric

 

President and Owner of Coghlin Electric, Mailman is arguably the most talented businesswoman in Central Massachusetts. Mailman serves on a range of community focused boards and is the Chair of the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce Board. 

Mailman is savvy and responsible for a business that is now part of WESCO Distribution, Inc. - a $3 billion concern.

She is the 4th generation leader of a company over 130 years old.

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#19

Tony Tilton - Director of Fletcher Tilton Law Firm

 

With roots in Worcester dating back 190 years, Fletcher Tilton is the 9th oldest law firm in the nation and is one of only five of the top 50 law firms in Massachusetts not located in Boston. 

The firm is responsible for multiple private trusts and foundations, and Director Tony Tilton oversees 20 private family foundations and handles nearly a half a billion dollars in assets.

In Worcester, if any charity is seeking donations - they typically have to go through Tilton. He and his partner, Warner Fletcher, decide where most of the charitable money in the city goes.

He is enormously responsible for raising the $7.5 million for the new Boys and Girls Club clubhouse nearly 10 years ago. Tilton is also Treasurer of Cape Cod Healthcare. 

He has honorary degrees from both Clark and Assumption.

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#18

Mark Fuller - Chairman of THE GEORGE F. and SYBIL H. FULLER FOUNDATION

At the end of last year, the Fuller Foundation had assets of nearly $55 million. The foundation awarded more than $3.6 million in grants ($2.9 of which went to 69 capital grants to local colleges and organizations).

Fuller is also Vice President of Benefit Development Group in Worcester and Treasurer of the Barton Center for Diabetes Education.

Prolific in his energy and focus to serving the community.

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#17

John Spillane - Attorney at Spillane and Spillane, LLC
 
Spillane’s father earned $55.6 million in payout in 2007 following the sale of Commerce Group, Inc. in 2007 to the Spanish firm Mapfre SA.

Commerce’s specialty is providing insurance through the AAA’s 100 million members.

Spillane is an attorney at Spillane and Spillane, LLC at the Worcester office. He served as co-chair of the United Way' campaign in 2013. 

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#16

Mary DeFeudis - Philanthropist 
 
DeFeudis sits on the Hanover Theatre board of directors and was instrumental in raising the $31 million needed to renovate the theatre. DeFeudis also contributed $1 million to the Hanover Theatre project.

DeFeudis is the Chairwoman of Worcester Sharks Charities and a member of the UMass Medicine Development Council.

DeFeudis has provided a full scholarship annually to a student at Worcester State University.

She may be the community's most active philanthropist.

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#15

Frank Carroll - Businessman

Frank Carroll founded the Small Business Service Bureau in the 1960s, a company designed to help and advocate for small businesses across the country. SBSB has grown into one of the largest small business groups in America.

Carrol's been helping people in Worcester ever since.

Carroll raised $1 million to build a Korean War Memorial in Worcester and was instrumental in the building of a hospital for American soldiers from Worcester County in Vietnam.

Carroll hosts a show at the Hanover Theatre to raise money for the St. John's Church Food for the Poor Program.

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#14

David R. Grenon - E-C Realty President

Grenon scored $22.5 million in profit shares following the sale of Commerce Group, Inc. to MapFre in 2006.  Grenon serves on the Board of Trustees for Massachusetts Biomedical Initiative. He is also a Trustee of Assumption College.

Grenon is the President of E-C Realty Corporation. Previously, he was the founder, President and CEO of Protector Group Insurance Agency - which was sold three years ago with annual revenues of $13.6 million.

Grenon runs a charitable trust in his name that holds $312,864 in assets.

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#13

Neil McDonough - President and CEO of FLEXcon

McDonough and his family have run FLEXcon for 60 years and the manufacturer of pressure-sensitive films and adhesives has grown to be a mega company. 

The global firm employs a reported 1,300 employees around the world. The private company has gotten more active in Worcester - with community sponsorships and earlier this summer, McDonough spoke at the DCU Center as part of the Worcester Research Bureau’s Acting Locally Panel. 

in 2009, McDonough was named the Worcester Business Journal's Big Business Leader of the Year.

However, the company’s reach is global with manufacturing and sales offices on nearly every continent on the globe.

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#12

Joe Salois - CEO, Atlas Distributing

Salois is President and CEO of Atlas Distributing in Auburn. He serves as the Director of Fidelity Bank and is a Trustee of Saint Vincent’s Hospital.

Speaking of influential, Salois was named to Governor Charlie Baker’s Economic Transition Team last December and Atlas played host to a Central Mass Delegation of Senators and State Reps in March.

He has a big impact on business, government and the community.

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#11

Mike Angelini - Chairman of Bowditch & Dewey

Angelini is known to be a lawyer's lawyer.  He was named one of the 2015 Best Lawyers in America by Best Lawyers, Angelini is known as one the nicest and down-to-earth guys in Worcester.

Angelini serves on the board at MassPort and is chairman of the board of Hanover Insurance. He, along with Sue Mailman of Coghlin Electric and Becker College President Robert Johnson, were instrumental in re-recruiting Ed Augustus to be City Manager in Worcester.

With Angelini at the helm of the firm, Bowditch & Dewey has been able to both expand the firm’s Boston presence and continue to prosper in Worcester.

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#10

Regan Remillard - Haven Country Club

Another big winner in the sale of Commerce lands on GoLocalWorcester's Wealthiest and Most Influential - the son of a prominent business owner who achieved success in his own right.
 
As the Boston Globe reported at the time of the Commerce sale, “Arthur J. Remillard Jr., who ran the company until his retirement in July 2006, will be paid $26 million for his 710,000 shares, while his children, Arthur III and Regan, will receive $43.6 million and $15.9 million, respectively. Arthur III and Regan are both members of the Commerce board.”

In 2012, the younger Remillard purchased the Haven Country Club in Boylston (formerly Mount Pleasant Country Club).  At the time of the rebranding of the golf course, Regan issued a forward-looking statement, “I see this as a club whose star is rising.  We’ve taken the traditional country club model and updated it a bit, to better fit the way people live today … A club should be someplace where you can have fun and feel at home. That’s the vision here.”

The Regan Remillard foundation has more than $500K in assets - while the Remillard Family Foundation has nearly $2 million.

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#9

M. Howard Jacobson - Vice Chairman of WGBH Educational Foundation Inc

 
Jacobson serves as the Chair of the Board for the Boston Market Corporation and the Wyman-Gordon Company. He is the Vice Chairman of WGBH Educational Foundation Inc. and a Trustee of WPI.

Jacobson served as Senior Advisor and Consultant at Private Advisory Services of Bankers Trust Private Bank from 1991 to 2001. 

Prior, he served as the President and Treasurer of Idle Wild Foods, Inc. until 1986.

Like many on this list, he is also on the UMass Medicine Development Council.

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#8

Valentin Gapontsev - Fiber Optics
 

There are people who are wealthy on this list and then there is Gapontsev.

Gapontsev, the father of the fiber-optic laser industry, is the only billionaire on this list because he's the only billionaire in Central Massachusetts. Thanks to lasers, his net worth is $1.24 billion.

This genius Russian and Worcester resident is the founder of IPG Photonics - located in the town of Oxford.

According to Forbes Magazine, he is #1533 on the Forbes Billionaire list globally.

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#7

Ralph Crowley Jr - CEO of Polar Beverages
 
Crowley runs Polar Beverages - a foundation in Worcester and a company the city is proud to hang its hat on. Polar Beverages is valued at nearly $500 million and Crowley is largely responsible for it. He's modernized the Seltzer water industry with numerous flavors and engages his customers to perfection.

Crowley made an attempt to purchase the T&G in 2009, but was snubbed by New York Times - who sold it  to John Henry (who sold it again within months). The Crowley family also owns Wachusett Mountain and the nearby Wachusett Village Inn.

EDITOR'S NOTE - We previously published a photo of Chris Rowley rather than Ralph. This has been corrected and we apologize for the error.
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#6

Robert Branca - Developer and Food Services 

 

Branca is a philanthropist, developer and Dunkin’ Donuts mogul.

He is a national leader in the Dunkin’ franchise structure

In Branca's family, nearly 700 Dunkin Donuts are owned - with him owning 60 DD franchises. 

Branca is the Chairman of the Dunkin' Donuts Franchise Owners Political Action Committee and Chairman of the Dunkin' Donuts Regional Advisory Council of all Dunkin' Donuts franchisees in the Northeastern U.S., and is the Vice Chairman of the Washington-DC based Coalition of Franchisee Associations.

Branca's company owns 72 and 60 Shrewsbury Street - the home of Volturno, Sweet and Wormtown Brewery.
 
Together, both buildings are valued at more than $3 million. 

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#5

Barry Krock - Real Estate
 
The DCU Center (former Worcester Centrum) was nearly named the Krock Arena. The Krocks have been a power in banking and real estate in the city for decades.

The Krock family owns 11 pieces of property in Worcester (worth multiple millions) including three parking lots across from the Worcester Courthouse and the building that formerly housed the Irish Times (worth $1.5 million total between the three lots and building).

Krock used to own the Commerce Bank Building before he sold the building for $4.5 million to David “Duddie” Massad in 2010  - for $400,000 less than its estimated value - after turning down offers of $21 million, $11 million, and $10 million.

For one perspective on the Krock family, check out Unlocking the Krocks.

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#4

Allen Fletcher - President of the Greater Worcester Land Trust

Up until 2008, Fletcher owned Worcester Magazine — once a top level alternative weekly newspaper. He, along with his brother Warner, inherited a tremendous wealth and he's utilized that money to make his own impression on Worcester.

Fletcher's money is part of what's behind the Canal District revitalization and he serves as the President of the Greater Worcester Land Trust - a non-profit organization that serves to protect the land of Worcester.

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#3

Warner Fletcher - Director of Fletcher Tilton

Fletcher maybe the most influential person in philanthropy in Central Mass.

Fletcher is the chairman of three charitable trusts in Worcester - including the two largest - George I Alden Trust, Stoddard Charitable Trust and Fletcher Foundation.

Last year alone, the Alden Trust gave $9.5 million in charitable donations - including a $3 million future payable donation to WPI. The Stoddard Trust has more than $70 million in assets and gave more than $3.5 million last year in charitable donations.

Fletcher, along with #6 on this list, Tony Tilton, run Fletcher Tilton Law Firm - which oversees 20 private family foundations and handles nearly a half a billion dollars in assets.

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#2

David "Duddie" Massad - Chairman of Commerce Bank


A Grafton Hill product, Massad owned several car dealerships including Diamond Auto Group, Emerald Chevrolet Oldsmobile, Duddie Motors and the largest Hertz franchise in Virginia Beach, Virginia. 

Massad serves as the Chairman of Commerce Bank in Worcester - a company he purchased from the Krock family - that has over $1.7 billion in assets and 250 employees according to the bank. 

In 2005, he donated $12.5 million for a new medical facility at UMass Memorial Medical Center's Lake Avenue campus.

He was indicted for fraud in 2008 - but was ultimately proven innocent.

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#1

Fred Eppinger - CEO and President of Hanover Insurance

Eppinger may be the most able chief executive in central Massachusetts. His leadership in growing Hanover Insurance and his activism in the community is unmatched.

The company is trading 33% higher in the past year.

Eppinger, a Holy Cross graduate, made more than $5 million in compensation in 2014 as CEO and President of Hanover Insurance. 

Eppinger also has $28 million in options through Hanover. Eppinger has been with Hanover since 2003 - when it was called Allmerica and had lost $306 million. Since then, Eppinger has turned Hanover around as a business and the company has donated millions towards the Hanover Theatre, Hanover Field, and UMass Memorial.

He oversees more than 5,000 employees.

 
 

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