Emily Reichert built Somerville-based Greentown Labs into what’s believed to be the largest clean-tech incubator in North America. Now, Governor Maura Healey is hoping that Reichert can work similar magic at the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, the quasi-public agency that delivers millions of dollars in clean-energy sector subsidies each year on behalf of the state.
The Healey administration said Wednesday that it has tapped Reichert to be MassCEC’s new chief executive. Reichert will replace Jennifer Daloisio, who has been with the agency for nearly 10 years, including almost two years as its top executive. Daloisio steps down on Oct. 31, and Reichert starts on Nov. 6.
“The governor has assembled a really amazing team,” Reichert said. “There’s a ton of energy, no pun intended. I’m excited to be part of ‘Team Massachusetts.’ The governor wants us positioned as a global leader in climate technology. My mandate is to get us there. That’s a pretty cool mandate.”
Reichert’s arrival comes at a time when Healey has promised to significantly increase funding for the clean energy center. The board is led by Rebecca Tepper, the state energy and environmental affairs secretary, and a few other seats are held by gubernatorial appointees. MassCEC has a budget of $115 million for the current fiscal year with money from a charge on ratepayer bills, the state operating budget, and a onetime infusion of federal American Rescue Plan Act funds, among other sources. (The agency also gets revenue from its wind-blade testing center in Charlestown, and its offshore wind construction terminal in New Bedford.) Reichert will be paid a salary of $244,050 a year, similar to what Daloisio is being paid.
Reichert’s success at Greentown has already been well documented. She joined about a decade ago as both its top executive and first employee, when Greentown was essentially a hodgepodge of clean-energy entrepreneurs working in a basement in South Boston. “Ventilation was opening the garage door,” Reichert said. “We barely had air conditioning. [But] it was a buzzing hive of entrepreneurial activity.”
Greentown moved to its own space in Somerville, near Union Square, and grew quickly, with Reichert as its chief executive officer. By the time she stepped down late last year, Greentown supported more than 140 startups in Somerville and 75 in Houston, and had nearly 50 full-time employees. Reichert said she stepped down to take a break, particularly after keeping the incubator running during the stressful early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. She said she was intrigued by the opportunity at MassCEC after Tepper reached out to her about it.
At MassCEC, Reichert hopes to foster more testing and manufacturing opportunities for technologies that are dreamed up in Massachusetts labs. Too many local startups, she said, go out-of-state to bulk up their operations. Along those lines, Reichert wants to increase the job opportunities in the sector for a broader spectrum of potential workers, not just those with PhDs and MBAs.
Alicia Barton, chief executive of hydroelectricity operator FirstLight Power, said Reichert has the skillset and determination to help the clean-energy sector overcome some of the challenges it faces today, such as significant financing setbacks in the state’s nascent offshore wind industry.
“She has a big vision and she doesn’t take no for an answer,” said Barton, who ran MassCEC from 2012 through 2015. “She really will help bring that focus and clarity of purpose to her future work.”
Reichert’s leadership was crucial to fostering the growth of LineVision, a startup that sells technology to make power lines more efficient, LineVision chief executive Hudson Gilmer said. LineVision spent four years at Greentown Labs before moving to Charlestown last year.
“She’s really an entrepreneur at heart and is also very comfortable connecting startup entrepreneurs with government leaders,” Gilmer said. “I don’t think there’s anyone who has done more for the climate-tech industry in the Commonwealth.”