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Imagining a new role for the Kennedy compound

Zipcar has a new driver; Silicon Valley vs. Greater Boston; Convenience stores have a new advocate; Shoebert gets landlord’s ‘seal of approval.’

Adam Hinds left the state Senate last week to run the EMK Institute.Sketch by Chris Morris

A Camp David for Congress on Cape Cod?

It might seem like a crazy idea. But it shows the kind of thinking that helped land state Senator Adam Hinds a job as the new chief executive of the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate.

Hinds, a former United Nations negotiator who represented the Berkshires in the state Senate for six years, said he first heard about the job after formal sessions ended on Aug. 1. He had run unsuccessfully to be the Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor this year, so he knew he wouldn’t be returning to his Senate seat in 2023.

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His thinking about using the EMK Institute as a convener aligned well with board chairman Bruce Percelay’s vision for the institute. (The institute recently cofounded the Senate Project with the Orrin G. Hatch Foundation to host debates between Republicans and Democrats in the US Senate.) The board hired Hinds from a field of more than 160 candidates; Hinds started the new job last week, taking over for interim executive director Sue Heilman, and leading a roughly 15-person staff.

Hinds said he pitched the idea of a “Camp David for Congress,” modeled after the presidential retreat in Maryland, as a way to better use the historic house that’s the centerpiece of the Kennedy compound in Hyannis Port. The house could provide a private location away from Washington for frank conversations between members of both parties. Ted Kennedy’s widow, Vicki Kennedy, donated the house to the EMK Institute more than a decade ago, and it is occasionally rented out for functions.

Hinds recognizes Kennedy was an iconic leader in the Democratic Party. But he said this retreat center should be bipartisan, a recognition of Kennedy’s ability to work across political aisles.

“There’s a growing acknowledgement of the crisis our democracy faces,” Hinds said. “If people are looking for an address for where these conversations are taking place, we can provide that . . . I think the institute is well placed to play a central role in shaping the conversation and convening leaders.”

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Hinds’ wife teaches at Amherst College, so his family will likely split their time between Amherst and the Boston area this fall, after spending many years in Pittsfield. Planning his family’s move is on his to-do list now, along with that “Camp David” idea.

“Once I get my feet under my desk, I’ll start to formalize the concept,” Hinds said, “and work with the board to move it forward.”

A logo is seen on a Zipcar in San Francisco, California on Sept. 2, 2015. REUTERS

Adams takes the wheel at Zipcar

There’s a new driver at the wheel at Zipcar.

The Boston-based car-sharing service announced last week that Angelo Adams has been appointed head of Zipcar, a division of Avis Budget Group. The announcement was made two days before Adams would attend a Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce forum, where Mayor Michelle Wu spoke about her vision for the city, to mingle with Boston’s movers and shakers.

Adams had actually joined Zipcar in May, from Connecticut elevator company Otis Worldwide. Former Zipcar president Tracey Zhen remained until July to help Adams with the transition. (Avis no longer uses the term “president” for the top Zipcar job.)

Adams said his priorities will be improving the member experience, managing costs, and finding new ways to reduce emissions. Zipcar executives argue that its service encourages members to delay or avoid buying their own cars, essentially taking gas-guzzling vehicles off the road. Zipcar often rents private spots for its cars. But it also has an agreement to use public parking spots in Boston — 40 initially but now more than 90.

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He said he has enjoyed getting to know Zipcar’s 400 or so employees (including roughly 150 in Boston). Doing that requires plenty of traveling.

“I always make sure I can drive a Zipcar, so I can get the members’ experience,” Adams said, “so I can see it from the members’ eyes.”

Putting state’s business costs in (Silicon Valley) context

Massachusetts is an expensive place to do business. But at least it’s not Silicon Valley.

That’s the bottom line that John T.C. Lee, chief executive of MKS Instruments, conveyed during a virtual meeting of the Massachusetts High Technology Council last week. Mass. High Tech convened the event to discuss CNBC’s “Top States for Business” rankings. (Massachusetts fell to 24th in 2022, from 14th in 2021.) Other guest speakers included CNBC correspondent Scott Cohn and EY managing principal Jane Steinmetz.

The cost of living in Massachusetts was a recurring theme — and a big reason why the state doesn’t rank particularly well in CNBC’s tally.

Lee talked about how the cost of housing in Massachusetts can be an obstacle for hiring at the Andover tech company, particularly for early-career hires. But then he returns to Silicon Valley. “I go back for business all the time,” Lee said. “It just reminds me how much traffic there is, how expensive things are.”

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Some light reading for Brennan

Peter Brennan has his work cut out for him.

Brennan just took over as executive director of the New England Convenience Store & Energy Marketers Association. He replaces Jon Shaer, who left to join ChargePoint, the electric vehicle charging network.

Brennan is quite familiar with how Massachusetts government works, through his six years as a state Senate aide, and nine years as a lawyer with the Massachusetts State Automobile Dealers Association.

But now Brennan’s learning about the capitols in the other five states in New England, and how they operate. The rules for lobbyists include mandatory badges in Rhode Island and in New Hampshire (where the badges are “hunter orange”).

He’s also getting up to speed on petroleum. Board president Tom Frawley of Summit Distributing recommended reading “The Prize,” a 928-page history of the oil industry written by Daniel Yergin. So Brennan promptly ordered the book, only to be taken aback by its size when it arrived.

“It showed up and it weighed about 20 pounds,” Brennan said. “It won the Pulitzer Prize so it must be good, but a little intimidating for sure.”

A seal made his way out of the pond and traveled through the Cummings Center parking lot in Beverly.Beverly Police Department

Seal of approval at Beverly’s Cummings Center

Employers at the Cummings Center in Beverly had a new reason to lure people to the office: a friendly, 235-pound gray seal.

The seal, christened Shoebert, was first spotted swimming in Shoe Pond at the Cummings Center, originally the headquarters for United Shoe Machinery Corp., on Sept. 15. The pond is connected to the tidal Bass River via a culvert, which is apparently how Shoebert worked his way into the office park.

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Shoebert’s nearly two-week stay drew crowds of Beverly residents and Cummings Center tenants; rescue crews eventually began efforts to relocate him. Shoebert had his own plan, though, and decided to make his way across the Cummings Center parking lot to the police station next door. He was eventually evaluated at Mystic Aquarium before being released into the wild off the Rhode Island coast last week.

Stephen Drohosky, senior vice president at Cummings Properties, said the landlord is already making plans to honor Shoebert, and has put the call out for high-resolution photos of the visiting seal. The Cummings Center, it seems, has a new mascot.

“We have miles of hallways in our buildings here,” Drohosky said. ”We’re going to do a mural of the best photos we can gather.”


Jon Chesto can be reached at jon.chesto@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @jonchesto.