October 14, 2016 | Mechanics Hall, Worcester

Panels 9:45 AM - 10:45 AM

Design it, Make it, Ship it

Robert Cox

Robert D. Cox, Moderator

Bowditch & Dewey

Bob Cox is a partner in Bowditch & Dewey’s Environmental and Real Estate practice where he counsels clients on environmental compliance and enforcement actions, and represents clients with respect to water, air, hazardous waste, and solid waste matters before the EPA, Mass. DEP and local regulatory boards.

Robert Cox

Steven Goodman, Panelist

GFI Partners

Steve Goodman launched GFI Partners in 1997. Since then, he has directed the development of 10 million square feet of commercial property across the nation. Steve earned a bachelor’s degree in finance and real estate from the University of Denver, a law degree from Boston College Law School, and a Master’s in real estate from MIT. Steve accepted the Chamber’s 2016 Business of the Year award for the redevelopment of a 625,000 square feet state-of-the-art industrial warehouse located in the Quinsigamond Village of Worcester.

Steven Rothschild

Steven Rothschild, Panelist

Access Fixtures

Steve Rothschild is an entrepreneur, real estate investor, founder of bulbs.com, and the cofounder and CEO of Access Fixtures, a supplier of commercial, industrial and sports lighting supplies. Mr. Rothschild owns several Worcester buildings including the Ivy Corset Building, a collaborative business community featuring private offices and common areas for small businesses. Previously, he was a professor of innovations and entrepreneurship at Clark University.

Craig L. Blais

Craig L. Blais, Panelist


Craig Blais is the president and CEO of the Worcester Business Development Corporation (WBDC), a $10 million non-profit corporation working with public and private partners on economic development projects in Central Mass. Including the biotech park, Worcester Innovation Center, and Gateway Park. Mr. Blais has served in many public and economic development roles including as the Director of Economic Development for the City of Worcester.

Richard A. Cawley

Richard A. Cawley, Panelist

Rectrix Commercial Aviation Services, Inc.

Richard Cawley serves as CEO and treasurer of Rectrix Aviation a provider of world-class flight support including first-class fixed base operations (FBO), private terminals, full aircraft handling capabilities, and maintenance and repair for a wide range of aircraft. Under Mr. Cawley’s leadership, Rectrix consistently ranks in the top 2% of the best FBO’s nationwide.

John Killam

John Killam, Panelist


John Killam is the president and CEO of the Massachusetts Manufacturing Partnership where he leads a team helping manufacturing companies create and sustain profitable growth. John has more than 30 years of experience as a multifaceted, innovative general manager with extensive experience in operations management, production engineering and optimization, quality management and business development. John holds a bachelor’s in business and is certified in Toyota Production System.

Higher Ed Drives Innovation, Launches Start-ups

Laurie Leshin

Laurie Leshin, Ph.D., Moderator

President, WPI

Laurie Leshin is the President of Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), where she is committed to elevating WPI’s impact in communities worldwide. Dr. Leshin brings more than 20 years of experience as a leader in academia and government service, including as the dean of the School of Science at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and as the deputy director of NASA’s Exploration Systems Mission Directorate.

David Crouch

David Crouch, Panelist


David Crouch is founder and president of ten24 Digital Solutions, a technology company, located downtown at the Worcester Innovation Center. Ten24 has tapped into Worcester’s higher education community for talented graduates in the high tech area. The company provides eCommerce solutions to clients by building and managing custom applications for online purchasing. They developed the next generation platform, Slatwall Commerce to manage the sale of products online and offline.

Ryan Canuel

Ryan Canuel, Panelist


Ryan Canuel serves as CEO of Petricore, Inc., the company he founded in 2015 just before graduating from Becker College. Petricore develops digital games and software applications for worldwide clients ranging from vascular surgeons, to big data companies, to museums. The company, operating out of the Worcester Innovation Center in the downtown, has released two games, Mind the Arrow and Gelato Flicker. Both have earned accolades and more than 400,000 downloads. Mr. Canuel was named 2015 entrepreneur of the year by the Chamber.

Tim Loew

Tim Loew, Panelist


Timothy Loew is founder and executive director of MassDiGI at Becker College, the statewide center, designated by the Commonwealth, for academic cooperation, entrepreneurship and economic development across the state’s digital and video games ecosystem. Mr. Loew has held senior positions in business, development and academic planning at the college and previously had a successful career in financial services and as a consultant in the technology sector.

Glenn R. Gaudette, PhD

Glenn R. Gaudette, PhD, Panelist


Dr. Gaudette is a professor of biomedical engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. His research, which is supported by the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation, aims to develop a treatment for the millions of Americans suffering from myocardial infarction and other cardiovascular diseases. He co-founded a company in 2012 based on the pioneering technology developed in his laboratory. Dr. Gaudette also teaches biomedical engineering design and innovation, biomechanics and physiology.

Hospitality, Arts, and Entertainment – An Eclectic Mix

Roberta Brien

Roberta Brien, Moderator


Roberta Brien is the vice president of projects for the WBDC where she oversees the redevelopment of WBDC-owned properties; directs project financing with strategies including market tax credits, historic tax credits, conventional financing, and grants; and assists in creating mixed use developments. Ms. Brien worked at the state level where she planned for the reuse and development of Commonwealth-owned properties, has been a site selector for national retailers, and worked as a transportation planner.

Troy Siebels

Troy Siebels, Panelist

Hanover Theatre

Troy Siebels is president and CEO of The Hanover Theatre, a 2,300-seat performing arts center that has been a key catalyst to the city’s revitalization and anchors the new Theatre District in downtown Worcester. The theatre presents more than 140 performances to audiences of more than 180,000 annually. A new conservatory and school for the performing arts will open soon. Under his direction, the theatre is seeking a tenant for new, first floor restaurant space.

Alina Eisenhauer

Alina Eisenhauer, Panelist

Sweet Kitchen & Bar

Alina Eisenhauer is a chef that has made a name for herself through national television appearances including including Chopped, Cupcake Wars, Beat Bobby Flay, Re-Wrapped and finally became the overall victor on Sweet Genius. She opened her restaurant, Sweet Kitchen and Bar in Worcester and spends her days creating the freshest dishes with quality, local ingredients for her loyal customers.

Ed Russo

Ed Russo, Panelist

Lock 50

Ed Russo has more than 30 years of experience in laboratory design, construction, and management. Ed created LABEX of MA, a company that is a global leader providing reconditioned equipment to universities and research centers. Recently Ed entered the restaurant industry to bring a unique space offering a modern café during the day and transforming into a chic, contemporary restaurant in the evening. Ed designed and rebuilt Lock 50, an historic landmark in the Canal District at the site of the old Blackstone Canal.

Joe Donovan

Joe Donovan, Panelist


Joe Donovan is the vice president of MG2 where he oversees operations, including the property management subsidiary, construction subsidiary, financing activity and acquisitions/dispositions. He oversees The Grid, a 5-acre, multiple building development in the heart of downtown Worcester featuring residential and retail space including 6 restaurants – some currently under construction. Joe has more than 20 years of experience in commercial real estate companies and property management and financing.

Heads in Beds – Hotel Development on the Rise

Sandy Dunn

Sandy Dunn, Moderator

DCU Center

Sandy Dunn is the general manager at the DCU Center in Worcester where she oversees both the arena and the convention center. Together, they host more than 350 event days annually with well over a half million attendees making it the number one attraction in Worcester. During her tenure, Ms. Dunn oversaw the construction, opening and development of the convention center and the $34M arena renovation.

James Karam

James Karam, Panelist

Homewood Suites

Jim Karam is president, CEO, and founder of First Bristol Corporation, a real estate development and management company located in Fall River. First Bristol specializes in retail shopping centers, office buildings, and hotels throughout Southern New England. Locally, Mr. Karam is the developer of Homewood Suites, a 6-story, 118-room hotel at Washington Square in Worcester scheduled for completion in Feb. 2107.

Christine Thomas

Christine Thomas, Panelist

XSS Hotels (Hampton Inn, Courtyard by Marriott, AC Marriott)

Christine Thomas is development partner at XSS Hotels and has a background in hotel operations, sales, brand development, site selection and land entitlement with a focus on under served markets and transformative urban renewal endeavors. XSS Hotels owns and operates the Courtyard by Marriott, the recently completed Hampton Inn and Suites, and the AC Hotel by Marriott currently under construction at CitySquare.

Christina Andreoli

Christina Andreoli, Panelist

Discover Central Massachusetts

Christina Andreoli is the president of Discover Central Massachusetts (DCM) and vice president of the Chamber. DCM is the state-designation travel and tourism organization for 35 cities and towns in Central Mass. and under her leadership is responsible for promoting hotels, attractions, restaurants and other retail establishments to travelers from outside the region. The organization also promotes the region to conference and meeting planners and sports organizers to boost the region’s economy.

Robb Ahlquist

Robb Ahlquist, Panelist

Worcester Restaurant Group

Robb Ahlquist is the co-founder and president of Worcester Restaurant Group holding company for three of the most successful restaurants in Worcester – The Sole Proprietor, One Eleven Chop House, and VIA Italian Table. All three restaurants have won many local and national awards and The Sole Proprietor is among the top 20 independent restaurants in Massachusetts based on volume, according to Yankee Food Service. The Worcester Restaurant Group now has nearly 300 employees.

Downtown and Business Districts Poised to Cash in on Retail Revolution

Michael Jacobs

Michael Jacobs, Moderator

NAI Glickman, Kovago, and Jacobs

Michael joined the team of NAI Glickman Kovago & Company in 2002 and became a partner in 2007. He has concentrated his efforts on the retail industry and works with national and regional clients on site selection throughout New England. His primary focus is on large / small box retail brokerage and development and provides landlord representation on retail projects involving national tenancy. Michael is an active member of the International Council of Shopping Centers.

Robert Branca, Jr.,

Robert Branca, Jr.,, Panelist

Branded Realty Group, Branded Management Group, Worcester Donuts

Robert Branca, Jr. is a principal in several family enterprises, including Branded Realty Group and Branded Management Group. The firm owns and operates Dunkin' Donuts franchises along with commercial and residential real estate including the buildings that house Wormtown Brewery and Sweet and Harrington Corner in the downtown. They are currently redeveloping the El Morocco on Wall St. into residences and are the founders Worcester Building Systems, a maker of commercial kitchen equipment.

Chip Norton

Chip Norton, Panelist

Franklin Realty Advisors / Mercantile Center

Charles F. Norton, Jr., is the owner of Franklin Realty Advisors, a real estate development and advisory firm and Mercantile Center a premier mixed-use property in downtown Worcester. Since 1983, Mr. Norton has managed the design, development, financing, construction, and management of more than 30 projects with a value in excess of $750 million. Mr. Norton is the sole owner of the company and responsible for the oversight of all development, property management and advisory activities.

Eurayshia Williams Reed

Eurayshia Williams Reed, Panelist

Shi Shi’s Lounge

Eurayshia Williams Reed opened her own salon, Shi- Shi’s Lounge, on Chandler St. in Worcester in 2008. As a small business owner, Ms. Williams Reed knows first-hand the challenges of operating a business, from obtaining capital, to hiring qualified employees, and marketing the business. Navigating the path from start-up to successful and award-winning business has been built on hard work, dedication to her craft, and continuing education.

Amy Lynn Chase

Amy Lynn Chase, Panelist

Crompton Collective

Amy Lynn Chase is the owner of Crompton Collective, a curated boutique marketplace designed to celebrate local, independent makers and artisans, and her love of antiques. Opened in 2012 and located in Worcester’s Canal District, the store is an eclectic mix of styles and eras and has quickly become a destination for shoppers in the region and beyond. Amy also created The White Room, a unique venue for all kinds of events and started a farmers’ market, both adjacent to her store.

Urban Living – A Lofty Move

Sherri Pitcher

Sherri Pitcher, Moderator

Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce

Sherri G. Pitcher is the director of business recruitment for the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce, where she works with the city, developers, commercial real estate brokers, site selectors and other stakeholders to generate interest and investment in Worcester and the region. Ms. Pitcher works with investors to guide them through site selection, assist with streamlining the permitting and other processes to help create jobs and expand the tax base.

Chris Starr

Chris StarrPanelist

Starr Development Partners

Chris Starr is the founder of Starr Development Partners and has more than 25 years of experience in developing affordable and market-rate rental housing over 25 projects. Chris and his team specialize in transaction origination, permitting, assembling financing, construction, and property operations. Together with Brady Sullivan Properties, Mr. Starr transformed an historic Worcester building into luxury apartments, the Junction Shop's Lofts.

Rick Shaffer

Rick Shaffer, Panelist

Vision Properties, The Edge

First operating as a sole proprietor, Rick Shaffer specialized in building rehabilitation growing his business into a full service development company, Vision Properties. As the founder and owner, he develops, builds and manages residential, commercial and mixed-use properties in the Mid-Atlantic and New England. Locally, Mr. Shaffer adapted the historic Osgood Bradley Building in into the Edge at Union Station for use as student housing in Worcester’s downtown.

Gilbert J. Winn

Gilbert J. Winn, Panelist

Winn Companies

Gilbert Winn is the CEO of WinnCompanies, an award-winning national, multifamily development and management company headquartered in Boston. The company acquires, develops and manages mixed use properties across the country and is the nation’s fifth largest multi-family housing manager, the largest manager of affordable housing and the second largest manager of military housing. The company owns five multi-family communities including Voke Lofts and Canal Lofts and manages three others in Worcester.