On the fifth anniversary of his paper that dramatically refocused Worcester’s economic development efforts, the chairman of the law firm Bowditch & Dewey, Hanover Insurance Group’s board of directors and Massport discusses the impact of his paper, the city’s current economic development efforts, the role of public and higher education in moving the city forward, the city’s dual tax rate, Worcester Regional Airport, commuter rail, and more.
Shortly after celebrating the grand opening of its new downtown space in the Printers Building in early August, local makerspace Technocopia received an invitation to the Obama administration’s Makerspace Organizers Meeting at the White House. The Sun sat down with Technocopia executive director Nick Bold to find out what the government wants next for the Maker Movement.
The title was innocuous: “A proposal for the reorganization of Worcester’s Economic Development Efforts.” The content was anything but.
In addition to referring to Worcester’s developmental efforts as compartmentalized, inefficient and absent of collaboration, the proposal listed a litany of deficiencies; the phrase “We do not have” appeared in six consecutive sentences.
The paper recommended a new entity, the Worcester Economic Development Corporation, assume the responsibilities of the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce, Worcester Business Development Corporation, Worcester Redevelopment Authority, Destination Worcester, and others.
Criticism is common, but this broadside to the status quo, written five years ago, remains notable for two reasons.
David Niles / For Worcester Sun
Michael P. Angelini
First, its author was none other than Michael P. Angelini, Chairman of the law firm Bowditch & Dewey and one of the most influential business leaders in the city. Second, it led to a fundamental change in the city’s approach to economic development — and the effects of those changes are still evident in 2016.
QUOTE OF NOTE:
“There is a difference between being a politician and being a political leader. Politicians are mindful of the pressures they face. Political leaders are mindful of the future that we face. I think it was terrible leadership by the City Council.”Find out what council decision got Mike Angelini fired up later in this story.
Last summer the Worcester Bravehearts pitched the idea of an app to connect them to their fan base. The students at MassDiGI’s Summer Innovation Program took over from there, creating an addictive game that is also a marketing vehicle for the city’s baseball team.
The lead developer of the video game Bravehearts Derby never misses a chance to improve his skills. In doing so, the Becker College senior-to-be is showing the drive, personality and perspective of an entrepreneur. The keys? Making the most of the fact that there are 24 hours in a day and that it could be gone tomorrow. Meet Rejon Taylor-Foster, the guy you wish you were at 21.
In her first extended one-on-one interview since being named Worcester’s chief diversity officer, Malika Carter sits down with the Sun and discusses what prepared her for a city the size of Worcester, the city’s hiring practices, last summer’s dialogues on race, a recent incident involving a member of the city manager’s cabinet, the role of media, and difference between threats and free speech.
It was May 2014 and Taylor-Foster, a developer, game designer and teenage founder of the digital production studio Maximum Crash, had a problem.
His freshman year at Becker College was over, his home in Mount Vernon, New York, lost to neighborhood gentrification.
His options were limited, his drive was not. His requirements?
“All I needed was a corner and an outlet,” he said. “If I am able to get the tech, I can do the job because my skills are intact. I still have my computer. If I can get power, and I can connect to people, I can do more.”
Mark Henderson / Worcester Sun
Credit the family of Taylor-Foster’s friend Jeff Reiner for providing the corner, the outlet and an air mattress at their home in Burlington. Taylor-Foster took care of the rest.
Coding, or programming, was not just a way to make money. It is a way for Taylor-Foster to improve his skills, which are considerable, to create a better life.
Those skills are on display most notably in Bravehearts Derby, an app developed for the Worcester Bravehearts. Taylor-Foster created the original game upon which it is based and led a team of enterprising students in creating a slick, enhanced version for the city’s hometown team.
Timothy Loew, Executive Director of the Mass. Digital Games Institute (MassDiGI), and Worcester Bravehearts General Manager Dave Peterson gathered the students of MassDiGI’s Summer Innovation Program to kick around ideas for a Bravehearts app.
“I had known about the program at Becker,” Peterson said, “and Tim Loew reached out to me and said, ‘Hey, we have a great opportunity for you to come in with the mascot, and talk to MassDiGI about what the baseball team is and what the baseball team does in the community; and who knows where it’ll take us, but maybe it’ll spark an idea about a potential app.’
Courtesy Maximum Crash
The Bravehearts Derby app is more than just a video game.
“We talked about things like promoting reading, promoting sportsmanship, promoting healthy living,” Peterson said. “Part of what this app developed into is a game that kids can play, but it also has scrolling messages that talk about the team.
“It also talks about what Jake the Lion is doing in the community during the course of the year. We kind of tied together the community aspect and the gaming aspect.”
The problem was, each of the students was already assigned to a team producing a game for the summer program.
Malika Carter, Ph.D., was named the city’s first chief diversity officer on Jan. 15.
In announcing her hiring City Manager Edward M. Augustus Jr. wrote: “The main duties of the position will include developing and monitoring, recruiting, hiring, training, promoting and retaining strategies to increase the number of people from underrepresented groups who work and volunteer for the city.
“Dr. Carter will also oversee the development and implementation of the city’s Equal Employment Opportunity and Diversity and Inclusion Plan and making sure that the city is in compliance with all federal, state and local Equal Employment Opportunity laws.”
The trail that led her to Worcester was steep.
Mark Henderson / Worcester Sun
Malika Carter, Worcester chief diversity officer
Carter, who says she grew up “low socio-economic-statused” person, at first eschewed four-year colleges for Cuyahoga Community College in Cleveland, where her parents went back to school at ages 45 and 46.
She got her associate’s degree in stenography so she could become a court reporter and earn money to continue her education at Cleveland State University.
The punitive nature of the law, she said, made her realize she wanted to make education her career. She taught science, reading and language arts in grades 4-9 in Cleveland but was drawn to higher education.
She earned a master’s in higher education and student affairs administration at the University of Vermont, working full time in the process.
In 2005, Carter moved on to North Dakota State University, where she was assistant director of multicultural programs while continuing her education. In 2011 she became director of multicultural student services at the University of North Dakota. In 2014 she earned her Ph.D. from North Dakota State.
Carter sat down with the Sun for her first extended one-on-one interview since coming to Worcester in February.
Quotable Carter: Select thoughts from the city’s diversity czar
“Institutions were not built for under-represented people. They were built for power, to keep the power in and keep the powerless out.”
“Imagine if the tables were turned and those people who are doing a lot with a little were at the top of the economic food chain. Imagine how [much] better our institutions would be because they would be able to, as my grandmother says, ‘Make a dollar hollar.’ “
“The hardest job I had to learn in doing this work is to be tolerant of the intolerant.”
“The city’s workforce is not as diverse as it could be.”
She talked about what prepared her for a city the size of Worcester, the city’s hiring practices, last summer’s dialogues on race, a recent incident involving a member of the city manager’s cabinet, the role of media, and difference between threats and free speech.
What was it that best prepared you for a city the size of Worcester?