Betsy Wall spent eight years convincing tourists that “it’s all here” in Massachusetts. But now, she’s got a different challenge: persuading visitors that it’s “cooler and warmer” in Rhode Island.
That’s the new state catch phrase that Wall unveiled to the Rhode Island Commerce Corp.’s board on Monday, kicking off a digital ad campaign to promote the state to tourists and businesses. The slogan was created by Milton Glaser, the graphic designer best known for the “I Love New York” logo, along with a new logo for the state that resembles a sail billowing in the wind.
Wall turned her attention south in December when she was hired as the state’s chief marketing officer. She had run the Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism under Governor Deval Patrick. But Governor Charlie Baker replaced her with Rich Doucette, who then left in October.
Wall’s hiring reflects a much broader plan that Gina Raimondo launched last year in her first year as governor to turn her state’s fortunes around. The Commerce Corp. in the fall tapped the Havas PR team, led by North America CEO Marian Salzman, to embark on a statewide campaign. The statewide marketing budget rose to $5 million this year, from less than $500,000, largely by relying on hotel taxes that had gone to the state’s general fund.
Wall and Salzman say there’s a newfound energy under Raimondo that is galvanizing the whole state. Plus, there’s the small-town feel of the place, something they see as a key selling point. “If you know three people,” Wall says, “you will run into them.”
More musical chairs in Boston’s broker biz
It’s time for another round of musical chairs in Boston’s commercial real estate industry.
Big brokerage firm Cushman & Wakefield Monday said it has hired away a high-profile team from rival Eastdil Secured, the latest in a series of talent raids that have upended the local real estate industry in recent months.
Capital markets brokers Peter Joseph, Brian Barnett, and Steffen Panzone will be jumping from Eastdil to Cushman, helping to rebuild a building-selling team that was wiped out last fall when veteran broker Rob Griffin and dozens of his colleagues decamped for Newmark Knight Grubb Frank. That in turn came after the merger of Cushman & Wakefield with DTZ, which put many — and perhaps too many — of the region’s top brokers under one roof.
Rivals JLL, CBRE, and Colliers have also swept in to pick up talent amid the turmoil.
The tumult reflects a desire by all these national firms to get a piece of Boston’s hot real estate market. Office buildings and hotels have been selling at record prices in the last two years, putting a premium on the brokers who make those deals happen. The Eastdil team is no exception. Joseph, Barnett, and Panzone had a hand in the biggest building deal of 2015: the $1.3 billion sale of 500 Boylston and 222 Berkeley in the Back Bay.
“We’re thrilled to add this premiere team to our office,” said Joe Fallon, New England market leader for Cushman. “Peter and his team bring deep client relationships and are a great cultural fit with our team.”
Ex-Affiliated Managers CFO gets back into asset management
This is the first presidential race in more than a decade in which Darrell Crate hasn’t had a front-row seat. It’s probably just as well: Crate is kind of busy these days. Among other things, he’s launching a business that could compete with his former employer, Affiliated Managers Group.
Crate is well known in local political circles for his involvement in the GOP, including a roughly four-year tenure as the state Republican party chairman, and then two stints as treasurer for Mitt Romney’s presidential campaigns. But he’s also known in business circles for his nearly 13 years as chief financial officer at AMG, a financial firm that had been based in Beverly but has since relocated its headquarters to Florida under CEO Sean Healey’s leadership.
Crate started his own investment firm, Beverly-based Easterly Capital, in 2009. He then left AMG in 2011. But his noncompete agreement only expired earlier this year, which prevented him from using Easterly to build a rival business. With that milestone now passed, he launched an affiliate about a month ago to invest in smaller, independent asset management firms, taking minority stakes and helping them with marketing and other services. So far, Crate says, his firm has raised about $100 million from institutional investors for that venture, called Easterly Partners.
Easterly Capital already has two other ventures: a trust that invests in federal government-owned real estate, and an affiliate formed to invest in a to-be-chosen financial services company. Crate’s leadership team includes David Cody, one of the early partners of Fortress Investment Group.
Crate is watching this year’s presidential race but he doesn’t sound like he misses being part of the action.
“It’s going to be a wild ride coming up,” Crate says. “[But] I’ve got my hands full building these businesses. It’s more than a full-time job.”
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