Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Photos from PBLN's 3rd Annual Washington, DC CEO Summit - May 11th, 2010

Thomas Murray, President & CEO of the Hastings Center, Joshua Boger, Founder & former CEO of Vertex Pharmaceuticals, and Congressman Paul Hodes (D-NH), chat at the start of the Summit.
 
Paul Sagan, President & CEO of Akamai Technologies, Tim Rowe, President & CEO of the Cambridge Innovation Center, Bill Stone, Managing Member of Outside GC, and Nicolas Boillot, Managing Partner of Hart-Boillot take a coffee break.
 
Tom Dretler, President & CEO of Eduventures, Inc., and President of PBLN, delivers opening remarks.
 
Mitch Tyson, CEO of Advanced Electron Beams, Inc. and Chair of PBLN’s Energy/Environment Working Group, sets the tone for morning’s energy session.
 
Jon Karlen, General Partner at Flybridge Capital Partners talks with Congressman Ed Markey (D-MA).
 
Senator Mark Warner (D-VA), David Belluck, Managing Partner at Riverside Partners, and Congressman Markey.
 
Roger Freeman, Managing Principal at Solventerra and Coordinator of PBLN’s Energy/Environment Working Group, poses a question.
 
Brenda Reny, Principal and Managing Director at Daintree Advisors, and Howard Brick, COO at MedPanel, Inc.
 
Maria Ghazal, Director of Public Policy and Counsel at Business Roundtable and Valerie Fleishman, Executive Director at the New England Healthcare Institute and co-Coordinator of PBLN’s Healthcare/Life Sciences Working Group.
 
Joshua Boger, Founder and former CEO of Vertex Pharmaceuticals, and PBLN co-Chair, introduces the healthcare panel session.
 
Neera Tanden, COO at the Center for American Progress, speaks during the healthcare panel session.
 
Shailagh Murray, Congressional Correspondent at the Washington Post and Moderator for the Healthcare panel session, speaks with Thomas Murray, President & CEO of the Hastings Center, and Jim Roosevelt, Jr., President & CEO of Tufts Health Plan and PBLN Honorary co-Chair.
Diane Hessan, CEO of Communispace, Andy Tarsy, PBLN Executive Director, and Peter Cunningham, US Assistant Secretary of Education.
 
Thomas Murray, President & CEO of the Hastings Center, Chris Pinney, Director of Research and Policy at the Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship, Aaron Abend, Managing Director at Recombinant Data, Congressman Ed Markey (D-MA), and Andy Tarsy, PBLN Executive Director at the reception.
 
Peter Cunningham, US Assistant Secretary of Education, Paul Sagan, President & CEO at Akamai Technologies, and Gloria Larson, President of Bentley University during the Education panel discussion.
 
Devereaux McClatchey, President & CEO of Carney, Sandoe & Associates, raises a question for the Education panel.
 
Diane Hessan, CEO of Communispace, moderates   a special session on finance regulation reform with Congressmen Barney Frank (D-MA), and Mike Capuano (D-MA)
 
Jeff Bussgang, General Partner at Flybridge Capital Partners and PBLN co-Chair, poses a question with Paul Egerman, co-Founder and former CEO of eScription, looking on.
 
Congressman Barney Frank, Chair, House Financial Services Committee (D-MA), and Congressman Mike Capuano (D-MA).
 
Congressman Barney Frank (D-MA) chats with Jared Bernstein, Chief Economist and Economic Policy Advisor to Vice President Joseph Biden.
 
Tim Rowe, President & CEO of the Cambridge Innovation Center and Congressman Barney Frank (D-MA).
 
Congressman Mike Capuano (D-MA), chats with Greg Torres, President of MassInc., Matt Henshon, Partner at Henshon-Parker, LLC., and Norm Gorin.
 
Jim Matheson, General Partner at Flagship Ventures, moderates the briefing with Jared Bernstein and Terrell McSweeny, Vice President Joseph Biden’s economic and domestic advisors.
 
Terrell McSweeny and Jared Bernstein from Vice President Joseph Biden’s executive office.
 
Jim Boyle, President of Sustainability Roundtable and co-Founder of PBLN, raises a question.
 
Devereaux McClatchey, President & CEO of Carney, Sandoe & Associates and Nikki Korn, Principal at Cause Consulting.
 
Peter Miller, Principal at the Castle Group and Beverly Armstrong, CCO and General Counsel at Paratek Pharmaceuticals, and PBLN Vice President, chat during the reception.
 
Congressman Paul Hodes (D-NH) speaks with Andy Tarsy, PBLN Executive Director, Chris Pinney, Director of Research and Policy at the Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship, and Will Febbo, CEO of MedPanel.
 
Diane Hessan, CEO of Communispace, Congressman Ed Markey (D-MA), and Jim Roosevelt, Jr., President & CEO of Tufts Health Plan.
 

Monday, May 24, 2010

Sticky Sweet Biz Seeks to Block Taxes on Things that Make us Fat, Sick & Costly

Healthcare panel at PBLN's Washington Summit 2010
 L to R: Neera Tanden, COO of the Center for American Progress;
Paul Egerman, former CEO eScription; Maria Ghazal, Business
Roundtable; Shailagh Murray, Washington Post; Jim Roosevelt,
CEO, Tufts Health Plan
We have both an obesity problem and a healthcare cost problem in the United States. Food industry companies of all sizes are aware of the connection between the two, and are making diverse adjustments in product and PR to address the impact on their profits. Some studies link the obesity problem in part to the presence of high fructose corn syrup in widely consumed products like sweetened soda and fruit drinks. Concern about the role of these sweet treats in health and healthcare costs is why in many states, efforts are underway to add a modest tax to the purchase price of these products.

Phil Edmundson (right) is CEO of William Gallagher
Associates. Phil is a recognized leader on health policy
in Massachusetts, and an advocate for removing the sugar
tax exemption. He is pictured here speaking with PBLN
member J.J. Bartlett, CEO of Fishing Partnership Health
 Plan at PBLN's Fall 2009 Summit in Boston
Trouble is, according to the Wall Street Journal (thank you Phil Edmundson for posting the article on Facebook)  and other well-documented recent reports, the "industry" is opposing these taxes (or in the case of Massachusetts, the mere removal of a tax exemption that applies very broadly to other consumer goods) and digging in its heels. The usual threats include job losses at bottling plants, fear of overburdening strapped consumers, etc. Where is the progressive soda industry voice that recognizes the public health issue here and has a thoughtful solution? The need for revenue to cover the healthcare cost of people who make themselves sick on soda? Is this going to have to go the way of the tobacco wars, with denial and denial and denial, and no corporate accountability or partnership with government to solve the problem?

One great source is a comprehensive treatment of it by no less than  the New England Journal of Medicine. The article which only subscribers can access online (we are working on getting a copy to post here) begins with this statement (footnotes omitted):

The consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages has been linked to risks for obesity, diabetes, and heart disease; therefore, a compelling case can be made for the need for reduced consumption of these beverages. Sugar-sweetened beverages are beverages that contain added, naturally derived caloric sweeteners such as sucrose (table sugar), high-fructose corn syrup, or fruit-juice concentrates, all of which have similar metabolic effects. Taxation has been proposed as a means of reducing the intake of these beverages and thereby lowering health care costs, as well as a means of generating revenue that governments can use for health programs...


A Forbes piece raises questions about whether the federal version of the soda tax would have any impact on obesity, and even takes on aspects of the New England Journal of Medicine piece. More policy and business analysis on this issue to come in this space....

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Let's Hope NStar Steps Up - The Next Shot Heard Round the World

graphic representation from www.ecopolitology.org
One of the goals of PBLN is to have more diverse pro-business points of view expressed in the media when the public is learning about complicated issues. A great example of our modest success to-date appeared very quietly on the inside pages of the Boston Globe yesterday with a small quote pointing out there are plenty of business leaders who support the Cape Wind project and want to see NStar "step up" and find an economically sound way to partner with this new home-grown source of renewable energy.

One disclosure: Cape Wind Project CEO Jim Gordon is one of the nearly 120 executives who are members of PBLN. It is important also to note that our position statement in support of dramatic reforms in energy policy and the aggressive pursuit of developing renewable energy sources and markets goes back to our first-ever adoption of position statements on policy issues in September of 2009.

For those who may just be learning about the PBLN, we have held 5 Summits on progressive business leadership in the past three years, all of which featured a robust discussion of the need for innovation and re-invention in energy policy and energy usage (among other issues). And yesterday was the third time we have weighed in via the media about Cape Wind in particular. The first was a comment by PBLN's Energy and Environment Coordinator Roger Freeman (CEO, Solventerra) where Roger pointed out how good Cape Wind will be for jobs and economic development. The second was a letter to the editor in the Boston Globe signed by PBLN Executive Director Andrew Tarsy and PBLN Energy and Environment Chair Mitch Tyson (CEO, Advanced Electron Beams, Inc.) making the argument that over a short time, Cape Wind energy would be revealed to be a bargain.

Jon Karlen of Flybridge Capital Partners (L) with
 U.S. Rep. Ed Markeyat the 2010 PBLN Washington
 Summit with Tim Rowe of the Cambridge Innovation
Center in the background on right
At a recent PBLN CEO Summit in Washington, U.S. House of Representatives Energy Chairman Ed Markey told 75 PBLN executives that being against clean energy is like being against the internet or cell phones during the telecom reform debates of the 1980's and 1990's. He also pointed out that those technologies and the economic growth engines that they have become would have started sooner if not for the pressure applied by incumbent industries (like the phone companies) who chose to fear the change rather than lead it.

PBLN has praised Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick's
strong support of clean energy investment including
 Cape Wind, Commonwealth Solar and other initiatives
in particular. He is pictured here addressing PBLN's
Fall 2009 Summit in Boston at the JFK Library.
Today's entrepreneurs are ready to lead on clean energy - and so, by the way are many of the big players in the incumbent energy industries, from power producers to utilities and even big power users. Cape Wind is the product of entrepreneurial vision and grit. It represents the opportunity for safer, more stable and ultimately lower energy costs for business and for families. It is a mere glimpse of the future that is coming and the American business community can either fear it or lead it. Ask the old phone companies which path they wish they had chosen "back in the day."

In that spirit of innovation, we are calling on businesses on the sell and buy side of power to consider all the advantages of renewable energy, and to consider the urgency of federal policy reform to drive new markets for entrepreneurial vision. The American Power Act introduced in the US Senate recently by Senators John Kerry and Joseph Lieberman has earned and is worthy of strong support by visionary business leaders. Cape Wind can be a shot heard round the world - something Massachusetts has some experience with...This time the shot would signal our resolve to become energy independent via our own ingenuity and vision. Let's hope we all "step up."

Friday, May 21, 2010

Boston Business Journal Editorial Backs Cape Wind - Sees Long Term Bargain, Short term Economic Benefit

The Boston Business Journal came out today with this editorial supporting the entrepreneur-driven Cape Wind project. It recognizes the complexity of seeing this value, citing the prospect that on hot summer days when oil prices are high, we will realize the value of having a no-fuel-cost renewable element to our energy supply. The BBJ signals that this is about vision - not just one project. But just as important, they explain that even all on its own, investing in a local, renewable source is a smart move; and allowing a private sector entrepreneur to carry the ball and make the numbers work in the market is not a Big Dig scenario. It's important to get beyond the headlines. Check it out:

Business News - Local News
Friday, May 21, 2010

Blowing past the naysayers

Boston Business Journal

He’s nine years into a regulatory odyssey. His project has been ambushed by political forces near and far. But the rest of the country has finally caught up to Jim Gordon, CEO of Cape Wind, who had the temerity (and more importantly, the resources) to propose putting 130 turbines in Nantucket Sound. Now he has half of his power sold to National Grid, and construction of the wind farm may begin as soon as the end of the year. This is very good news for Massachusetts and the nation.
Although wind farms can be found all over Europe, placing one in Massachusetts was greeted with tremendous trepidation. Cape Wind would ruin the fishing. It would kill countless birds. It would be plain ugly. None of these objections held up, but the lawsuits kept coming.
Now, with the rate deal with National Grid secured at 20.7 cents per kilowatt hour, Cape Wind is being attacked for producing expensive power. National Grid says it is happy to pay the premium to support the project, which will cost the average National Grid customer about $1.60 per month.
An expensive boondoggle? Hardly. The moment of economic truth for Cape Wind will come about 10 years or so down the line, on a very hot summer day when the price of various fossil fuels have escalated. Then the price National Grid negotiated with Cape Wind in 2010 will look like a bargain.
But even in the present, the extra rate to subsidize Cape Wind is a very good deal for Massachusetts. The project will put the commonwealth in the forefront of American wind technology while up to 1,000 people construct the wind farm. The Cape, in particular, will benefit from the economic activity, and ironically, the wind farm will draw many thousands annually from across the country, year-round, to survey this “eyesore.”
The project Jim Gordon has fought so hard for promises to become an icon for the future of American energy generation. And we expect it to emerge as a source of great pride and economic benefit for the state.

All contents of this site © American City Business Journals Inc. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

2010 DC Summit Recap: PBLN Takes the Hill

In the U.S. Capitol: Jeff Bussgang (General Partner, Flybridge Capital Partners)
asks a question as Paul Egerman (founder and ex-CEO eScription),
Jim Boyle (CEO, Sustainability Roundtable, Inc.) and Justin Dangel
(CEO, Consumer United) look on from a packed room.
The PBLN 2010 Washington CEO Summit was powerful. 75 strong took the case for inventing a more sustainable, competitive economy to Capitol Hill. Without a doubt though this was more about our own education than about lobbying anyone: Filling gaps in knowledge and understanding between business and government. Follow the ongoing conversation on twitter (pbln) and via the Progressive Business Leaders Network Linked In and Facebook groups - and by commenting on this blog. Summary of the Summit below:

Great coverage in the blogosphere of the PBLN DC Summit:
Some Summit high points (photos are on the website; more are on the PBLN Facebook page and many more are being loaded up):
Senator Mark Warner of Virginia and Massachusetts Congressman
Ed Markey pass in the hall as one leaves and one enters
 the PBLN Summit. David Belluck of Riverside Partners
 looks on, waiting to introduce Senator Warner.
  • New Hampshire US Rep Paul Hodes (who is running for US Senate) laid out a vision of how serious the moment is after the financial meltdown, and stressing fiscal responsibility.
  • House Energy Chair Ed Markey described the urgency of passing price-on-carbon proposals in the Senate (already cleared the House) and launching an innovation revolution via a new energy policy. He said being against clean energy is like telecom being against the internet and cell phones back in the 80's and 90's. Note that Massachusetts Senator John Kerry, whose senior energy aide Melanie Nakagawa was also a presenter at the Summit, released his American Power Act proposal together with Connecticut Senator Joseph Lieberman the day after the PBLN event. Reactions to it are all over the lot but not very hopeful for passage. He is still hoping to have bipartisan support including South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham.
  • Virginia Senator Mark Warner captivated our audience by bridging his business experience and government service. We will definitely be working with Senator Warner again.
  • Great panels including business and innovation leaders Mitch Tyson, Joshua Boger, Diane Hessan, Jim Roosevelt, Paul Egerman, CAP's Neera Tanden, Business Roundtable's Maria Ghazal, and Progressive Policy Institute Founder Will Marshall.
  • Congressmen Barney Frank and Mike Capuano (Massachusetts) joint session. The takeaways there: Frank said you need to support higher taxes and tell the public that will not hurt your business; and we need to cut military spending by half. And Capuano: We need to address the impact of the Supreme Court decision that gave corporation's free speech rights as if they were people, and we need a progressive business group to become a political force.
  • CEO Paul Sagan and U.S. Assistant Secretary of Education Peter Cunningham in a discussion led by Bentley University President Gloria Larson - covered the urgency of fixing US public education at all levels. Sagan urged business leaders to get personally involved in one individual school.
  • Senior staffers from the Office of the Vice President (Jared Bernstein and Terrel McSweeny) briefed us on job creation and the challenges of the middle class. Big takeaway: even in the boom years, as profits and wealth rose, median family incomes in the US declined. Crisis now for "middle class" and made dramatically worse by the financial meltdown and bursting real estate bubbles which wiped out retirements and put homes under water.
  • From left to right, Assistant Secretary of Education Peter
    Cunningham, Akamai CEO Paul Sagan and Bentley
    University President Gloria Larson
  • Brief meeting with new Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown - just had the chance to welcome and congratulate him and let him know we would love to have a longer conversation perhaps during summer recess. We also got to meet some of his staff and begin a dialogue about issues.
Follow up from the Summit? See the "next steps" button on the pbln website and consider these items:
  • The conversations there continue in our working groups on a year-round basis where you can be part of determining where we focus our time and yours. 
  • We are already planning for our biggest and most comprehensive Summit ever - a PBLN Summit on October 8th at Bentley University in Waltham. Plan to save the night before for dinner and the entire day on the 8th - it will be worth it.
  • We will be relaunching our entire website and messaging in the June-July timeframe, and introducing entirely new levels and opportunities for engagement among members of the network.
  • Finally-and most importantly, we will launch the next phase of our seed capital drive, in order to make this vital organization sustainable itself. We will need your help if we are going to rise to the challenge of all that became so apparent to us in Washington about the relevance of this project.
For those who doubt whether a progressive business voice is needed or viable - you only need to hear the pleading of Senator Warner and the others we met with that business leaders of all perspectives get involved in the process. A call to action if there ever was one.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

What's next?

Hopefully the Washington experience has energized you. There are many next steps we need to take as individuals and as an organization. Here are just a few:
  1. Save the date for the Fall 2010 PBLN Summit at Bentley University in Waltham on October 8th. Featuring an all-star list of CEO and policy leader speakers, a gubernatorial candidates forum, small group sessions on different aspects of leadership and innovation, and more.
  2. Schedule a one-on-one meeting with PBLN Executive Director Andy Tarsy or PBLN President Tom Dretler to talk about your impressions and your goals.
  3. Join PBLN Education Chair Gloria Larson on May 26th from 8 - 10 am while she leads a delegation of PBLN business leaders to a school the Burke High School in Dorchester on Wednesday, May 26 from 8:00 - 10:00am. We will be privileged to have Boston Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Carol Johnson and Boston School Committee Chairman Reverend Greg Groover joining us as we meet with students, teachers and administrators about the necessary elements of innovative change our schools need.
  4. Attend a Working Group program in May or June. See the Calendar page of the website for a schedule of activities.
  5. Sign on to our policy statements (see website) by emailing Andy@pbln.org and let us know whether you would author letters to the editor, a guest column, or sign on to advocacy letters concerning issues that matter most to you.
  6. Offer to host or co-host with a colleague a PBLN "Executive Conversation." We will gather 15 business leaders for dinner and discussion on a chosen topic. The first one focused on energy issues and it received rave reviews.
  7. Propose a policy leader that you think we should meet and help us plan a meeting with a delegation of PBLN business leaders to engage about our issues of concern.
  8. Join PBLN, refer new people to us, or recruit them yourself in partnership with our leadership.
  9. Share ideas for how you think we can have an impact.
  10. Participate in a meaningful way in our seed capital campaign (tax-deductible contribution) to fund a five year plan for sustainable growth and impact. For more information see Andy Tarsy, Tom Dretler or David Belluck. 
Thank you very much for your leadership in creating a much-needed force to help invent a more sustainable, competitive economy.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Business Leadership and Public Policy:
"Inventing a More  Sustainable Economy"

Tuesday, May 11, 2010
Capitol Visitor Center, Room 215
U.S. Capitol Building
Washington, DC


Attendee List
Aaron Abend, Managing Director, Recombinant Data Corp
John Arensmeyer, Founder & CEO, Small Business Majority
Beverly Armstrong, COO & General Counsel, Paratek Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
J.J. Bartlett, President, Fishing Partnership Health Plan
Laura Bartsch, Principal, Millville Partners, Inc.
David Belluck, General Partner, Riverside Partners, LLC
Noah Berger, Executive Director, Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center
Joshua Boger, Founder and CEO (Retired), Vertex Pharmaceuticals Incorporated
Nicolas Boillot, Managing Partner, Hart-Boillot, LLC
Beth Boland, Partner, Bingham McCutchen LLP
Josh Boswell, PBLN
Jim Boyle, CEO, Sustainability Roundtable Inc.
Howard Brick, COO, MedPanel, LLC
Jeff Bussgang, General Partner, Flybridge Capital
Brian Carey, Partner, Foley Hoag LLP
Aaron Chalek, Director of Operations, PBLN
Tom Clay, CEO, Xtalic Corporation
Chris Colbert, CEO, Holland-Mark
Robert Crowe, co-Managing Partner, Nelson Mullins
Peter Cunningham, US Assistant Secretary of Education for Communications & Outreach, US Department of Education
Justin Dangel, CEO, Consumer United
Libby DeLana, Founding Partner, M E C H A N I C A
Ray DeMeo, Technology Executive, Self
Jeffrey Dretler, Partner, Prince, Lobel, Glovsky & Tye LLP
Thomas Dretler, President & CEO, Eduventures, Inc
Paul Egerman, co-Founder & former CEO, eScription, Member, Member, US Department of Health and Human Services Health IT Policy Committee
Helen Fairman, Principal, Millville Partners, Inc.
Will Febbo, CEO, MedPanel, LLC
Valerie Fleishman, Executive Director, New England Healthcare Institute
Roger Freeman, Managing Principal, Solventerra,LLC
Terry Gardiner, National Policy Director, Small Business Majority
Doug Gensler, Managing Director, Gensler
Maria Ghazal, Director of Public Policy and Counsel, Business Roundtable
Norman Gorin, Managing Principal & CFO, Analysis Group Inc.
James Greenwood, President and CEO, BIO
Michael Gurau, Managing Partner, Clear Venture Partners
Matt Henshon, Partner, Henshon Parker LLP
Diane Hessan, President and CEO, Communispace Corporation
Jonathan Kateman, Senior Operations and Strategy Executive, Self
Nicole Korn, Principal, Cause Consulting
Janet Kraus, Entrepreneur in Residence, Harvard Business School
Gloria Larson, President, Bentley University
David Levine, Director, American Sustainable Business Council
Hunsicker Lindsay, Senior Education Policy Advisor, Senator Mike Enzi (R-WY), Senate HELP Committee
Charlie Lord, Partner, Sustainable Cities Capital
Lauren Louison, Vice President, Development, MassINC
Will Marshall, Founder and President, Progressive Policy Institute
Jim Matheson, General Partner, Flagship Ventures
Devereaux McClatchey, President, Carney, Sandoe & Associates
Peter Miller, Principal, The Castle Group, Inc.
Stephen Mongeau, CEO, Pietzo Hybrid Electric Bicycles
David Morales, Commissioner, Division of Health Care Finance and Policy, Massachusetts Executive Office of Health and Human Services
Shailagh Murray, Congressional Correspondent, Washington Post
Thomas Murray, President and CEO, The Hastings Center
Melanie Nakagawa, Professional Staff Member, Senate Foreign Relations Committee
Ted Nelson, CEO, Mechanica
David Parker, CEO, DigitalAdvisor
Chris Pinney, Director, Research and Policy, Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship
Brenda Reny, Former Director, Deutsche Bank
James Roosevelt, Jr., President & CEO, Tufts Health Plan
Alan Rose, Jr., Co-Founder/Partner, Rose, Chinitz & Rose
Eric Rosen, consultant, Heather Podesta + Partners
Tim Rowe, CEO, Cambridge Innovation Center
Sean Sacks, Assistant Vice President, New Boston Fund, Inc.
Paul Sagan, President & CEO, Akamai Technologies
Graham Shalgian, Senior Vice President, Rasky Baerlein Strategic Communications
Mike Signer, Chair, E3 Initiative, Progressive Policy Institute
Meghan Stasz, Net Impact Fellow / 2010 MBA Candidate, Boston College Carroll School of Management
Bill Stone, Managing Member, Outside GC LLC
Neera Tanden, COO, Center for American Progress
Andrew Tarsy, Executive Director, PBLN
Greg Torres, President, MassINC
Mitchell Tyson, CEO, Advanced Electron Beams
Peter Welsh, Executive Vice President, Suffolk Construction
Christine Williams, Special Advisor to President, Bentley University

Business Leaders Press the Case for Competitiveness, Growth, Sustainability

At the PBLN Washington Summit, 75 innovative CEOs and top business leaders are gathering now for what will be 24 hours of dialogue with policy leaders, fellow executives and key decision makers. Some have remarked that since the meltdown on Wall Street and the recession, the business world's attention to Washington has increased dramatically. This may be more true in some sectors than others. Certainly there has long been a permanent industry in Washington of business lobbying for policies that are represented as "good for business." Whether that business agenda is good for the public interest or even good for private sector innovation beyond a series of parochial short-term interests is the big question.

Undeniably some business leaders who have recently been drawn to Washington are driven by concern over new scrutiny of their industries or by short term opportunities via the stimulus or TARP programs. But renewed interest in Washington among entrepreneurs is much more significant. There is a recognition shared widely among those gathering at the PBLN Summit that government is an essential partner in the drive to invent a more sustainable, competitive economy. And many of the initiatives couched currently as stimulus are really just examples of the government making choices about how to align the nation's resources and priorities with the demands of its future. With global competition and fundamental impediments to growth at home like soaring healthcare costs, inadequate public education, long-term unemployment and a total dependency on foreign energy supply, that sounds like a good thing. Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick often credits House Financial Services Chair Barney Frank   for saying "government is simply the name we give for the things we choose to do together." Some who ridicule the use of this phrase help to prove its relevanceParticipation by progressive business leaders in the Washington dialogue is one way to shape those choices.

Some examples of the issues we will be focused down here over the next 24 hours? Here is a quick list and our full agenda is at www.pbln.org:
  • Climate change legislation (as a group we advocate putting a price on carbon emissions and as we did in the Boston Globe May 12, 2010 we make the cost case for renewable energy projects like Cape Wind);
  • Implementation of the healthcare reform bill (looking for access to care AND real cost containment and for how the administration will leverage the power of entrepreneurs to bring its vision to life);
  • Education - specifically how school reform can drive the next century of workforce and inventor-force that the tech-driven knowledge economy requires;
  • We are looking hard at House Financial Services Chair Barney Frank's work on Financial Markets Regulation - this is in part about access to stable capital markets so that business, labor, families, non-profits can count on our financial system as a partner in growth. It is also about reining in greed and excess where people have been hurt without accountability or consequences, and so far without a strategy to prevent a repeat. One of our CEOs said tonight that this is an issue the entire fractured body politic ought to be able to come together on....but will it?
  • Jobs - what more can you say except business leaders want to hire and invest, and they need to better understand the role of the government today as a partner. Not an obvious subject to pair these interests together (business and government) but it is nothing new. We are just getting a chance to recalibrate the mix of what we prefer/need as a country.
Addressing each of these individual issues is necessary but none is sufficient unless we see how they are interconnected; this is what is meant by the effort to invent a more sustainable, competitive economy. There is a new partnership emerging between government and business around meeting a newly identified list of pressing societal needs that will not wait. Innovators are ready to produce value aligned with meeting society's pressing needs. Investors are ready to back them too, but the open question that represents the missing piece on so many issues is still whether the public policies we adopt as a society will facilitate innovation or protect the status quo. The message of the coalition of diverse business leaders represented at the PBLN DC Summit is that "business as usual" is not an option.

Friday, May 7, 2010

CAPE WIND POWER PURCHASE AGREEMENT WITH NATIONAL GRID MEANS BETTER PRICES FOR FAMILIES AND BUSINESSES, AND CLEAN ENERGY, JOB CREATION ALL TOGETHER

The era of putting Renewable Energy at the center of our economy has begun.
The power purchase agreement between National Grid and the Cape Wind Project means significant benefits for the region in renewable energy production, job creation, stable (and decreasing) pricing and long-term economic development.

For the cost of a cup of coffee a month, families receiving this clean energy will be part of making history and inventing a more sustainable, competitive economy. Businesses will begin benefitting from stable and ultimately lower energy prices right away. We believe any objections on pricing to be shortsighted for the following reasons:
  • Increased energy supply will have a stabilizing and downward impact on overall prices in the energy market over time. A Comprehensive Wind/Pricing Study in Germany shows this effect indicating that wind power reduced German wholesale energy costs by $5 billion Euros. Existing energy prices in New England may seem low right now but have been anything but low or stable in recent years.
  • As the global economy recovers, demand for energy will rise and the price too – this will substantially close the gap between existing and renewable energy prices.
  • When Washington puts a price on carbon emissions (likely before 2013 when the Cape Wind/National Grid contract starts, the price gap between existing and renewable energy will shrink even more.
  • With the price gap disappearing and demand for renewable energy rising over the coming years, Cape Wind positions Massachusetts to be a hub for the off-shore wind industry. As the Boston Globe writes, citing numerous credible sources, this means jobs, tax revenue and higher quality of living.
  • When the benefits of American clean energy and energy independence are truly accounted for, renewable energy and Cape Wind in particular will emerge as a bargain.
No-one knows exactly what will happen with this change - but we can predict the disastrous results of defending the status quo on energy. The well-studied evidence for Cape Wind comes from a 9 year effort to get to this point. We offer congratulations to the Cape Wind Project team, National Grid, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick and Secretary of Energy and Environmental Policy Ian Bowles, as well as the many stakeholders including public, private, non-profit, and labor organizations that have brought this project to this meaningful point.

PBLN is a non-profit education network of more than 100 CEOs and other top business leaders develop dedicated to inventing a more sustainable and competitive economy. For more information about our leadership, our policy agenda and our program of activities, see www.pbln.org or call Executive Director Andrew Tarsy at 617 515-9004.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Mr. Bussgang Goes to Washington: Entrepreneur, VC and PBLN Co-Chair Checks in about the High Stakes for Innovation in the Nation's Capital

Jeff Bussgang is a General Partner with the Boston-based venture capital firm Flybridge Capital Partners. Prior to joining Flybridge, Jeff was a successful entrepreneur. He recently authored a book called Mastering the VC Game and he writes a popular blog at www.seeingbothsides.com. Jeff is also a founding Board member and Co-Chair of the Progressive Business Leaders Network, which is having its 3rd Annual CEO Summit in Washington, DC May 11th on Business Leadership and Public Policy: Inventing a More Sustainable Economy. PBLN Executive Director Andrew Tarsy caught up with Jeff recently and the following is an edited transcript of that conversation:

PBLN: Jeff, you are an entrepreneur, a VC, a business leader who gets involved in policy issues, and most recently an author. And you are also involved in leading the PBLN. Do all these things connect?

Bussgang: I have a few themes in my life that I've maintained an interest in over many years. My father is a role model for me - a business leader, entrepreneur and community leader (town meeting member) - after coming to the US as a Holocaust survivor after the war. Those themes of fighting for democracy, civic engagement and giving back have always been harmonious for me alongside my business-building.

PBLN:  You are also a dad - do your kids know how all your interests connect and why?

Bussgang: Yes. I tell my kids that as a venture capitalist, I’m in the business of giving money to great inventors. If their invention is successful, they give me the money back plus some. If not, they lose the money. My kids see me and my wife and our civic involvement at our synagogue, various non-profits we are involved with and in the community and see how we integrate it into our lives. I suppose they’re “getting it” through osmosis, just as I did as a kid.

PBLN:  Jeff, you are going to Washington next week for the PBLN Summit - what are you looking for out of that day with Congressional leaders, policy wonks, etc.?

Bussgang: I’m a big fan of Stephen Covey’s Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, then to be Understood. I am looking to be educated on the key policy issues of the day by the experts in Washington DC as well as the experts amongst my peers at PBLN (who are always far better informed than I am!). Then, I hope to lend a small hand in helping advocate for pro-business, free market-based, progressive policies.

PBLN:  What are the key public policy changes that you think would widen the opportunity for innovation by entrepreneurs?

Bussgang: First, keep capital gains taxes low. Second, continue to invest heavily in infrastructure, such as broadband, wireless, education, high-speed trains, NIH and advanced research in energy. Third, allow aspiring entrepreneurs to get visas more easily. Supporting the Start-Up Visa movement is critical in this regard. Every talented immigrant who wants to start a company and can secure funding should be welcome to create jobs and build their innovative businesses here.

PBLN:  How do you react to cap and trade proposals to address energy/climate change?

Bussgang: If implemented correctly, I think cap and trade represents an excellent market-based approach to handling the externalities of carbon emissions. If implemented poorly, it will be a pork-laden, compromise bill to appease special interests. I’m very interested to hear more about it to understand which direction it’s heading in between these two extremes.

PBLN: Some say that entrepreneurs have no time to wait or work for policy changes. On the other hand many of them seem to be saying now that government action [major policy changes] on climate, energy, regulation of certain chemicals, healthcare policy (especially Health IT) and more will drive government dollars and demand in ways that are huge for them. Your thoughts?

Bussgang: Smart entrepreneurs don’t have time to wait, but when they see the government take action, they jump all over it. One of our portfolio companies, Patient Keeper, is a leader in hospital IT and physician software. When they saw the government pass the computerized physician order entry (CPOE) laws, they jumped into action and now have the leading product on the market. Entrepreneurs are nimble. Government is not. But when government takes action, it creates a massive wave of opportunity for nimble entrepreneurs.

PBLN: You played a hands-on role as a member of Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick's Readiness Project Finance Commission. Much of the work your group did resulted in some major reforms in the state. What are you looking for from the Assistant Secretary of Education Peter Cunningham and the highly regarded Senate education committee staffer Lindsay Hunsicker (from the Office of Senator Mike Enzi (R-WY)) who will be speaking at the PBLN Summit? What is the nexus from school reform to the economy for you?

Bussgang: Race to the Top has been a great catalyst for states to push for reforms. Massachusetts stepped up in that regard. I’m looking to learn why we didn’t get the grant, scored so low and what we need to do to move the ball forward. I recently watched a compelling movie called 2 Million Minutes, which chronicles how US teenagers spend their 2 million minutes of high school as compared to Chinese and Indian teenagers. We need to make sure our kids our getting the absolute best chance they can at becoming world-class global citizens and not get outclassed by their peers in other countries.

PBLN: Thank you Jeff. See you on Capitol Hill!

Learn more about pbln and register for the Summit at www.pbln.org

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

PBLNer George Matouk Jr. (CEO, John Matouk & Co) on CEO Corner (NECN)

Telling his business story that we have cheered about before here, CEO George Matouk, Jr. (John Matouk & Co.) was featured on New England Cable News channel's CEO Corner, hosted by Peter Howe last night. He spoke eloquently about his experiences coming back to a family business with a Columbia MBA and taking his grandfather and father's legacy into the 21st Century. Matouk manufactures a highly successful super-premium linen product line (towels, table linens, pillows, etc.) in Fall River, Massachusetts. 

Matouk sells to Neiman Marcus and top-end boutiques all over, and their table linens have been used in the White House! He has cut energy usage by 38% by going solar and brings ESOL classes in-house for his highly skilled, talented and trained immigrant workforce. And he has remained competitive as a textile manufacture creating jobs in the US, where the best skilled labor for his products and processes (embroidery, sewing and more) was to be found.

CEO Corner Host Peter Howe asked George if his inspiration to go solar (partnership with Commonwealth Solar) and make his principles felt throughout the business found resonance with his involvement in PBLN and George gave (no surprise) very thoughtful answers--leading to a great discussion of business leadership and public policy, triple bottom line management and plain old vision and values. 

Watch the segment here (only 7 minutes long) and take a real good look at Matouk for Mother's Day and beyond...Thank you George for your example and delivering the message about inventing a more sustainable and competitive economy!

Monday, May 3, 2010

PBLN in the Massachusetts Statehouse: For the Economy & for Our Values, Protect the Affordable Housing Law

Click here to join leaders across the business community in protecting the Massachusetts Affordable Housing Law

Today PBLN President Tom Dretler (President/CEO of Eduventures, Inc,) testified in a hearing of the Joint Committee on Housing of the Massachusetts Legislature. The Hearing was about a ballot question being put before the voters of the state in November that, if passed, would entirely repeal the state's primary affordable housing law, known as Chapter 40B. There are good people who care about affordable housing on both sides of this issue. As we have conveyed already in this space, PBLN has chosen to oppose the ballot question - oppose the repeal of the affordable housing law. No law is perfect and we would welcome the opportunity to support a dialogue on making this one better. But to paraphrase  Tripp Jones, Chair of the Coalition to Protect the Affordable Housing Law who testified at the hearing today, the fact that it is imperfect does not make it prudent or wise or productive to blow it up.

You will note that at the bottom of Tom's testimony below are listed business leaders and partners of PBLN who agree. We would love to add the names of others who care to be included. Please email your name, position and affiliation and the city/town where your business is located or whatever you want to identify as your location. Thank you.



Testimony of Thomas D. Dretler
Joint Committee on Housing
Hearing on Petition to Repeal Massachusetts Affordable Housing Law
Gardner Auditorium, The Statehouse
Boston, MA, May 3, 2010

Good morning Chairman Honan, Chairwoman Tucker, members of the Committee and colleagues. My name is Tom Dretler and I am President of the Progressive Business Leaders Network, Inc. - or “PBLN.” PBLN is a non-profit education and advocacy organization made up of over 100 CEOs and top officers of for-profit businesses from around Massachusetts. Our mission is to advance socially and economically responsible economic growth - to promote the business practices and public policies needed to invent a more sustainable economy.  I am also CEO/President of Eduventures, Inc., an industry leader in research and consulting for higher education institutions.

In these two capacities I have come to deeply appreciate the critical need for affordable housing in Massachusetts. My deep engagement with the higher education sector as CEO and President of a 65 employee Boston-based business has revealed to me how heavily our economy depends on higher education and how much employees and students in the state’s higher education institutions in a wide range of careers are able to thrive in Massachusetts because of affordable housing.

As President of the Progressive Business Leaders Network, I have seen the passion that my fellow members, all of whom play leadership roles in Massachusetts companies, have for the Chapter 40B Affordable Housing law. Our members recognize that even the hardest challenges we face as a society have solutions, and that government policy can be a force for good in addressing them. Chapter 40B is particularly well-regarded not because it is perfect; but because it establishes a market-driven model for creating affordable housing in communities all across the state. The result is not only affordable housing, which is of course its primary purpose. Chapter 40B also creates jobs, activates the expertise of local businesses that are best equipped to build and manage properties, and results in tax revenue that ultimately helps support budget priorities across the board.

No system is perfect, and there are clearly serious challenges facing the creation of an adequate supply of affordable housing in Massachusetts. We welcome a dialogue on how to build more affordable and sustainable housing, including fully funding a range of models that strategically align new housing and transportation hubs around the state. However, the business leaders of PBLN, some of whom work in the housing sector and most of whom do not, believe that repealing Chapter 40B is the wrong solution. We believe the repeal would have a very negative impact on the individuals who depend most on affordable housing: those who live in it, or hope to soon. The repeal would also hurt the economy and put jobs and families at risk. The repeal of Chapter 40B would have a significant impact on the competitiveness of Massachusetts as a location for businesses and workers across many sectors.

On behalf of the Progressive Business Leaders Network and in particular the members who have asked that their names be included with our testimony today, which I would like to read for you in a moment, I urge this committee not to adopt the resolution to repeal the Massachusetts Affordable Housing Law. Out of concern that the resolution might get on the ballot, we have joined the Campaign to Protect Affordable Housing. Our members expect to participate in the campaign to defeat the repeal effort by explaining the economic benefits of the affordable housing law, and the negative consequences of repealing it.

PBLN supports market driven models that lead to the development of affordable housing. We believe such models, including the Massachusetts Chapter 40B Affordable Housing law advance the public interest, are vital to our economy and reflect our values as a society. PBLN opposes the current effort to repeal the Massachusetts Affordable Housing law by ballot initiative petition.

Thank you for your time and the opportunity to provide testimony this morning.

The following members and partners of PBLN have asked for their names to be attached to this testimony - and this is a list in formation only since late last week, and one that will be growing and will be posted on our website at www.pbln.org:
Thomas D. Dretler, President, PBLN & President/CEO Eduventures, Inc. (Boston)

Andrew H. Tarsy, Executive Director, PBLN (Boston)

Thomas O’Brien, Chair, PBLN Housing/Economic Development Working Group
Managing Director, HYM Investments (Boston)

Sean D. Sacks, Coordinator, PBLN Housing/Economic Development Working Group & Assistant Vice President, New Boston Fund, Inc. (Boston)

Joshua Boger, Co-Chair & Board of Directors, PBLN (Concord)

Jeffrey J. Bussgang, Co-Chair & Board of Directors, PBLN;
& General Partner, Flybridge Capital Partners (Boston)

Chris Gabrieli, Co-Chair & Board of Directors, PBLN;
& Chairman, Mass 2020 (Boston)

Cheryl Cronin, PBLN Board of Directors & General Counsel;
& Partner, Cronin & Leonard LLP (Boston)

Gloria C. Larson, PBLN Board of Directors
& President, Bentley University (Waltham)

David S. Gasson, PBLN Treasurer & Board of Directors;
& Vice President, Boston Capital (Boston)

Jack Manning, PBLN Board of Directors, & President/CEO Boston Capital (Boston)

Andrea Silbert, PBLN Board of Directors (Harwich)

Sandy Lish, PBLN Board of Directors
& Principal/Founder The Castle Group, Inc. (Boston)

Robert Crowe, PBLN Board of Directors
& Partner, Nelson, Mullins, Riley & Scarborough (Boston)

Janet Kraus, PBLN Board of Directors
& Entrepreneur in Residence, Harvard Business School (Boston)

Paul Egerman, PBLN Board of Directors (Weston)

Norman Gorin, PBLN Board of Directors (Wellesley)

Diane Hessan, PBLN Board of Directors & CEO Communispace (Watertown)

Phillip Edmundson, PBLN Board of Directors
& Chairman and CEO, William Gallagher Associates (Boston)

Mitch Tyson, PBLN Board of Directors
& CEO, Advanced Electron Beams (Wakefield)

Rosabeth Moss Kanter, PBLN Board of Directors
& Arbuckle Professor of Business Administration Harvard Business School (Boston)

Mark Shirman, 
PBLN Board of Directors
& President & CEO GlassHouse Technologies (Framingham)

James F. Boyle, PBLN Board of Directors
& CEO/Founder, Sustainability Roundtable, Inc. (Cambridge)

Paul Sagan, PBLN Board of Directors & CEO Akamai Technologies (Cambridge)

Katherine Putnam, President, Package Machinery Company (West Springfield)

Alllen L. White, Vice President, Tellus Institute (Arlington)

Alan N. Hoffman, Professor, Bentley University (Waltham)

Barry Bluestone, Dean, School of Public Policy & Urban Affairs
Director, Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy
Russell B. and Andree B. Stearns Trustee Professor of Political Economy
Northeastern University (Boston)

Alicia M. Martinelli, Managing Vice President, Eduventures, Inc. (Boston)

Larry Rasky, Chairman, Rasky Baerlein Strategic Communications (Boston)

Charlie Lord, Partner, Urgent VC (Newton)

William C. Stone, Principal, OutsideGC LLC (Boston)

Chris Colbert, CEO Holland-Mark (Boston)

Helen Fairman, Principal, Millville Partners, Inc. (Cambridge)

Linda A. Moulton, CEO, Ceralta Technologies, Inc. (Peabody)

Anthony Pangaro, Principal, Millennium Partners (Boston)

LIST IN FORMATION – @ www.pbln.org (business leaders who would like to join please email Andy@pbln.org)