Bold Types

GE’s new headquarters: more innovation than HQ

Chris Morris for The Boston Globe
Peter Cavanaugh

When is a headquarters not really a headquarters?

The executives at General Electric know the word sounds bureaucratic, the kind of place where decisions get run up the proverbial flagpole and unusual ideas get lost amid corporate machinations.

So they brainstormed new ways to describe GE’s future campus, a $200 million project designed by Gensler on the edge of Fort Point Channel. The end result: GE Innovation Point. It’s an amalgam of the neighborhood’s name, Fort Point, and the more recent moniker bestowed on the area by the late mayor Tom Menino: the Innovation District.


Peter Cavanaugh (left), a GE executive who helped shepherd GE’s move to Boston from Connecticut, says his colleagues wanted a broader term to describe GE’s new three-building campus, in part because most of the 800-plus people who will work there won’t be top executives.

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“Innovation Point” also reflects GE’s goal of turning the campus into a “convener space,” to be used by non-employees, as well.

“There will be many more digital people there than headquarters people,” Cavanaugh says. “There will be a lot of other activities going on inside the space than just a headquarters.”

GE unveiled the name at a meeting last month of the Massachusetts Building Congress, a construction group. Then the name showed up on invites that went out for next Monday’s groundbreaking — an event that will feature GE chief executive Jeff Immelt, Mayor Marty Walsh, and Governor Charlie Baker.

Other names were tossed about, like “Industrial Point” or “Digital Point,” but they didn’t work quite as well as “Innovation Point.” The word “Innovation” describes GE’s history of invention, dating back 125 years to the early days of the light bulb. The “Point” refers to the fact that GE is at an inflection point, as Immelt focuses the company on its digital-industrial businesses.


“What we tried to do is make it something that bridged historic, traditional GE with where we want to go in the future,” Cavanaugh says.

Immigration inspires Dukach’s next move

February’s raucous protests against President Trump’s immigration ban inspired Semyon Dukach to get involved. They also got him thinking about his own story.

Dukach arrived in the United States at 10 years old with his family, refugees from the Soviet Union. He went to MIT as a computer science graduate student and became part of the school’s famous Blackjack Team.

Later, he dove into startups as a founder and investor, bankrolling dozens of companies. And for the past three years, Dukach has led Boston’s branch of Techstars, the national startup accelerator program.

As of this week, however, Dukach is giving up the Techstars job to tackle a new project: He’s putting essentially all of his liquid assets into a multimillion-dollar investment fund that will specifically back immigrant entrepreneurs.


Clement Cazalot, an entrepreneur and Techstars graduate, will take over the Boston startup accelerator. Also joining Dukach’s fund is Eveline Buchatskiy, who has been working with him at Techstars.

“When I played blackjack, I put it all in,” Dukach said. “I have very little fear of losing my money. I have found that consumption is not correlated with happiness.”

Statistics show his mission could be lucrative. While immigrants make up about 15 percent of the US population, they represent about 25 percent of the country’s entrepreneurs, according to recent research in Harvard Business Review.

Another study, by the business-focused Partnership for a New American Economy, said 40 percent of Fortune 500 companies were founded by immigrants or their children.

Dukach plans to make the new investment fund his last job. And he’s staying in Boston to do it. “I’m most effective here,” he said. “I want to stay here and invest in immigrants here.” — CURT WOODWARD

Can Boston’s market play on a world stage?

Boston is again vying against other global cities to play host to a major international affair.

Relax, it’s not the Olympics, but rather the International Public Markets Conference, hosted by the Project for Public Spaces, a nonprofit that works to make the places we live in more lively.

The conference is a biannual festival, of sorts. It draws an international array of farmers and food entrepreneurs from marketplaces around the globe to talk shop about shopping and the impact that buying locally can have on the economy.

The host city in 2015 was Barcelona, known for its historically vibrant market culture. By comparison, Boston Public Market — where most of the events would be held — is a newbie on the scene, having been open for just over a year.

But its chief operating officer, Cheryl Cronin, said she was hoping that Boston’s all-local, year-round model would give it an edge in the decision. She said both Mayor Marty Walsh and John Lebeaux, commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Agriculture, submitted letters in support of the application.

So she was thrilled to learn they’re a finalist. Now Boston will be pitting itself against London’s Borough Market and Toronto’s network of markets to play host to an event in the late summer of 2018.

“It’s exciting for us because we think that Boston is sort of uniquely situated in the public market landscape,” she said. “We have a long and really rich history as a market district.”

Decisions will be made in the next few months. Stay tuned. — JANELLE NANOS

Charitable tax credit gaining in popularity

Complicated, but getting more popular each year.

That’s the verdict on a Massachusetts tax credit designed to promote a specific type of charitable giving.

Launched in 2014, the community investment tax credit offers a 50 percent credit to anyone who donates money to a community development corporation, a nonprofit that works to improve low-income neighborhoods.

Through the program, 1,900 donors collectively donated about $10.5 million last year, according to the Department of Housing and Community Development. That was up from 1,000 donors giving $4.7 million in 2014 and 1,500 giving $8.1 million in 2015.

Among the CDCs that received the most money are Urban Edge, Somerville Community Corporation, Neighborhood Developers in Chelsea, Lawrence Community Works, Island Housing Trust, and Madison Park Development Corporation.

There’s a cap on the number of credits available, and the program is scheduled to end in 2019.

But Joe Kriesberg, president of the Massachusetts Association of Community Development Corporations, was at the State House this week to lobby Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito, community development undersecretary Chrystal Kornegay, and others to bolster the initiative.

“We think the program has proven its efficacy and deserves to be extended beyond that date,” he says. “We also think that, given its effectiveness and popularity, we should lift the cap.”

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