• Connecting Business and Government

11/25/2008

The soon-to-be town of Devens, once an Army base, is now positioned to be a new Massachusetts community of residential and business properties. It proved the ideal case study to show members of the Boston Future Leaders Program just how linked government and business really are. On Nov. 6, when the Future Leaders got together at Suffolk University for the third annual “Connecting Business with Government” event, they had plenty of work to do.

The event, sponsored by the Sawyer Business School and the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce, brought together professionals from both sides of the aisle, that is, men and women representing both government and business. Folks like Mark Andrews, director of budget and finance for the City of Lawrence, and James Hunt, Jr., president and CEO of the Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers.

Armed with knowledge from panelists, conference attendees began researching the Devens case, written by Professor Michael Lavin. The Future Leaders divided themselves into three teams of fictional companies hoping to build an IT port, an energy plant, or a warehouse in the new Devens community. The teams then had ten minutes to pitch their business venture to two of Devens’ government officials including Richard Montouri, MPA '86 responsible for real estate acquisitions and development permits.

“You can’t have a successful business, if you don’t have even a basic understanding of what government’s role in business might be,” says Sandy Matava, director of Suffolk’s Center for Public Management. There are development permits, operation and energy regulations, and, of course, taxes. Then there are partnerships with the community through local daycare centers and schools. The goal of the fall event, says Matava, is to show the Future Leaders a first-hand, real-life example of just how intertwined business and government have become. “It’s all interconnected,” she says.

 “As we have seen in the wake of the economic crisis, government at all levels has had and will likely continue to have much greater interaction with the business community,” says Paul Guzzi, president and CEO of the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce, “Knowing how to bridge the gap between business and government will become essential for leaders in both communities. And it is our hope that participants leave our Boston Future Leaders program with a new understanding of the role that they and their companies can play in helping public officials shape policy in the Commonwealth, and in the United States.”

 

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