R.I. still hopes to reap benefits from GE relocation process
Gina Raimondo lost the high-stakes sweepstakes to win General Electric’s favor. But the Rhode Island governor is still declaring victory.
Raimondo spoke to the Globe on Monday about what it was like when Boston beat Providence in the race to lure GE to a new home. A few days before confirming on Jan. 13 it was going to Boston, the company gave her a heads-up.
Amid the frenzy of that day, GE chief financial officer Jeff Bornstein took some time to talk to her by phone. She said he made a point during the call of complimenting her about Providence’s relatively low costs and its talent pool: “He said, ‘You guys ran a terrific process. We were looking for a bigger city than Providence, but Providence has an awful lot to offer.’”
As a result of that conversation, the venture capitalist-turned-politician said state officials are in talks with GE about the possibility of moving other positions, such as IT jobs, to the state. GE’s public relations team took the unusual step of issuing a statement confirming that Rhode Island was a finalist and that discussions about moving jobs there are in the works.
Raimondo said key business leaders chipped in for the big pitch — people like Hasbro chief executive Brian Goldner, CVS Health CEO Larry Merlo, and Brown University president Christina Paxson.
From Raimondo’s point of view, the fact that Providence was competitive could help her case when she tries to persuade other companies to come.
“The fact we were able to quickly mobilize our entire federal delegation, presidents of major universities and our business community, sends a signal,” she said, “that if you come to Rhode Island, you’re on our team.”
A shorter Newmark name?
Last fall, real estate firm Newmark Grubb Knight Frank made itself a big name in Boston when it poached one of the city’s top office-building brokers, Rob Griffin — along with a small army of his colleagues — from rival Cushman & Wakefield.
Now that name could be changing.
The New York Post reported last week that the New York-based real estate firm is set to re-brand itself with a moniker that’s frankly, less of a mouthful. Nothing’s final yet, said the Post, but they’re considering just “Newmark.” Or perhaps “Cantor,” a nod to Cantor Fitzgerald, the financial services firm that birthed NGKF’s parent company, BGC Partners.
It comes after a wave of mergers and expansions that have roiled the clubby world of commercial real estate over the last few years. Newmark has been a big buyer, gobbling up regional players all over the country. Now it’s time to signal that all those groups are pulling in the same direction, CEO Barry Gosin told the Post.
“We’re working on the rollout of a brand that reflects the fact that we are all family,” he said.
But it does mean that Griffin and company are going to need new business cards. Again.
Frenemies: BJ’s and Target CEOs
BJ’s Wholesale Club chairman Laura Sen, it’s fair to say, has had a bit of a complicated relationship with Brian Cornell, Target Corp.’s chief executive.
Sen talked about their connections while introducing Cornell at a Boston College Chief Executives Club luncheon, held last week at the Boston Harbor Hotel.
First, they were fierce rivals. She got to know Cornell when he ran Sam’s Club, a major competitor to Westborough-based BJ’s, from 2009 to 2012.
Then, they were business partners. Cornell went to work as a top executive at PepsiCo, one of Sen’s top suppliers. The soda and snacks giant played a key role in helping plan BJ’s strategy, Sen said.
So much for that partnership: Cornell went back to being a rival in 2014, when Target lured him away for the top job. Sen didn’t stop admiring him. But now their companies jockey for the same customers.
“I’m a huge fan,” Sen said. “I want to say we’re . . . frenemies [now].”
New antipoverty group is a who’s who
The newly formed US Partnership on Mobility from Poverty is a who’s-who of the nation’s experts on income inequality, many of whom have strong ties to Harvard University.
The partnership, launched last week by the Urban Institute, a Washington, D.C., think tank, is funded by a $3.7 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Members have been tasked with identifying ways to lift people out of poverty that can be put to use in the public and private sectors.
Current Harvard professors in the 24-member Partnership include chairman David Ellwood, who served as dean of the Kennedy School for 11 years, and economics professors Lawrence Katz and N. Gregory Mankiw. Several other members have taught there in the past, including Stanford University economics professor Raj Chetty and Johns Hopkins University professor Kathryn Edin.
Partnership member Elisabeth Babcock, who has a master’s and a PhD from Harvard and is president of the Boston nonprofit Crittenton Women’s Union, said she is thrilled to be serving with such a star-studded group of poverty experts.
“It feels like being asked to be a part of the X-Men or something,” she said. “It’s just a singularly talented group of people who are all fighting the same foe.”