Background Image

The Future of Retail

Our annual business conference.

October 21, 2022

7:30am – 1:30pm

Mechanics Hall, Worcester, MA

*You will be redirected to the Chamber of Commerce website where you will be able to register and pay for your ticket. If you are not a Chamber member, click “Not a Member” on the following screen to continue registration.

Presenting Sponsor

Game Changers Business Conference

7:30 am – 8:00 am
Registration/Continental Breakfast

8:00 am – 9:30 am
Welcome & Awards
Morning Keynote:
Kathy LaPlante, Senior Director of Coordinating Programs. Main Street America

9:30 am – 9:45 am
Coffee Break and Networking

9:45 am – 10:45 am
Panel Session I

11:00 am – 12:00 pm
Panel Session II

12:00 pm – 1:30 pm
Lunch & Keynote
Dan Rivera, President, MassDevelopment

Keynote Speaker

Morning Keynote: Kathy LaPlante, Senior Director of Coordinating Programs. Main Street America.

Kathy La Plante is the Senior Director of Coordinating Programs at the National Main Street Center/Main Street America, headquartered in Chicago. Kathy has over 30 years’ experience working with the Main Street programs on downtown and neighborhood commercial district revitalization. Working for the National Main Street Center, she provides training and technical services for cities of all sizes. Prior to this position, Kathy was the first Director of the New Hampshire Main Street Center for over 10 years, assisting 23 communities in initiating local Main Street programs in the state. Ms. La Plante began her Main Street career in 1989 as the Executive Director of the Chippewa Falls (Wisconsin) Main Street Program, a 1996 Great American Main Street Award winner that recognized the top five downtown revitalization programs in the country. Prior to Main Street, she managed Spurgeon’s Department stores in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Iowa.

Lunch Keynote: Dan Rivera, President, MassDevelopment

Dan Rivera comes to MassDevelopment after serving seven years as Mayor of the City of Lawrence, Mass. During his time as Mayor, the city saw significant commercial development, record new units of housing, and tens of millions of dollars invested in economic development planning and projects. Dan’s focus on economic and community development as Mayor included investments in housing, job creation, downtown redevelopment, transit-oriented development and equity, infrastructure, brownfields redevelopment, placemaking, and quality-of-life improvements, and establishing professional, transparent, modern, and streamlined permitting and licensing processes. an was an invaluable member of the Baker-Polito Administration’s Reopening Advisory Board, bringing the municipal viewpoint to the group tasked with developing the Commonwealth’s strategy to reopen the economy during COVID-19, and the COVID-19 Vaccine Advisory Group. In 2017, Governor Baker tapped Rivera to serve on the newly established Latino Advisory Commission charged with addressing concerns of the Massachusetts Latino community and promoting economic prosperity and well-being. Prior to his two terms as Mayor of Lawrence, Dan held various positions in the private, public, and nonprofit sectors. Dan is a veteran of the U.S. Army, where he served in the first Gulf War, Desert Shield/Desert Storm, and a graduate of the UMass Amherst and Suffolk University’s Sawyer School of Management, where he earned his MBA.

Opening Keynote Sponsor

Game Changer Awards Presentation

Sponsored by

Breakfast Sponsor

Sponsored by


Jessica Walsh, Owner
Worcester Wares

Jason Vuong, Owner
Gong Cha

Hank Von Hellion, Managing Director
Jean McDonough Arts Center

Dino Lorusso, Owner
Crompton Place

Aaron Horne
Major Taylor Museum

Session 1: Washburn Hall

What Type of Community Are We Building? Downtown & Neighborhood District Strategies

The city has seen considerable growth and revitalization over the last five years in downtown and surrounding neighborhoods. This seminar will discuss ways in which we can continue to strengthen, support, and meet the needs of the community while creating safe and walkable downtown neighborhoods.

Moderator: Ginger Brown, Executive Director, JP Centre/South Main Streets
Panelist: Katie Quinn, Owner, Mullahy’s Cheese Shop, Hudson, MA
Panelist: Ivette Olmeda, Transformative Development Initiative Fellow, MassDevelopment.
Panelist: Chip Norton, President, Franklin Realty Advisors, LLC

Session Sponsor

Session 1: Boyden Salon

The Business of Cannabis: Highs and Lows of a growing industry

A new industry sector that in a short period of time has made a positive impact on neighborhood districts and have made significant new investments. The cannabis industry has also made Worcester a destination for consumers from all over New England. Our panelists will discuss how we can keep growing from here (no pun intended).

Moderator: Joshua Lee Smith, Partner, Bowditch & Dewey
Panelist: Nurys Camargo, Commissioner, Cannabis Control Commission
Panelist: Peter Dicaro, CEO, Resinate
Panelist: Ulysses Youngblood, President & Co-Founder, Major Bloom

Session Sponsors

More information coming soon

Session 2: Board Room

Placemaking: Planning, Design, and Management of Public and Historic Places

Founded in 1722, Worcester is fortunate to have beautiful buildings with historic architecture and design. This design has strengthened our downtown neighborhood areas and is what makes Worcester unique. This seminar will discuss ways in which we can continue to create spaces like pocket parks, performance venues, programming, and activating spaces that blend the past and the future of our city.

Moderator: Peter Dunn, Chief Development Officer, City of Worcester
Panelist: Deborah Packard, Executive Director, Preservation Worcester
Panelist: Aaron Horne, Project Manager, Trinity Financial
Panelist: Neelu Mohaghegh, Owner, Family Grounds, Inc.

Session Sponsors

Session 2: Washburn Hall

What is Worcester Missing? Filling store fronts, embracing diversity, and meeting customer demand, while staying ‘Worcester’.

As retail models from across the country have shown, successful downtown neighborhood business districts are ones that have diverse shopping options and experiences for all consumers. How can we leverage Worcester’s diverse population to ensure that we are providing our community with what they need?

Moderator: Che Anderson, Assistant Vice Chancellor for City and Community Relations, UMass Medical School
Panelist: Oriola Koci, Owner, Altea’s Eatery
Panelist: Jason Vuong, Owner, Gong Cha
Panelist: Edgar Luna, Business Development Manager, City of Worcester

Session Sponsors

Session 2: Boyden Salon

Delivering a new model: The changing face of traditional brick and mortar retail

With online shopping, consumers have become accustomed to ordering everything from clothing to groceries from the comfort of their own home. Learn how brick and mortar businesses can differentiate themselves from online stores by creating a unique space or shopping experience that will attract visitors and consumers, and leave them wanting to come back for more.

Moderator: Stephanie Ramey, Owner, The O Shop
Panelist: Lynn Cheney, Owner, Maker to Main
Panelist: Jessica Walsh, Owner, Worcester Wares
Panelist: Olivia and Rachel Scanlon, Owners, Canal District Wines

Session Sponsors

Keynote Speaker & Closing Remarks

More information coming soon

Session Sponsor

More information coming soon

Corporate Sponsors

Media Sponsor