Desh Deshpande (below) made a name for himself — and a fortune — in the telecom industry. But he could end up having a more lasting impact in philanthropy and entrepreneurship.
The latest example: The Lowell nonprofit he backed nearly decade ago, now known as Entrepreneurship for All, has expanded to Roxbury. EforAll offers a free accelerator program that includes business training, networking, and mentoring. On Monday, the nonprofit hosted a kickoff event at the Bruce C. Bolling Municipal Building in Dudley Square, where the local version of the program is now based.
Deshpande’s foundation funded the launch of what was then called the Merrimack Valley Sandbox in 2010. In recent years, EforAll has grown beyond its roots in Lowell and Lawrence to expand to Hyannis, Fall River, New Bedford, Holyoke, Lynn, and Pittsfield, as well as Longmont, Colo. The Roxbury program started on a pilot basis in June, but EforAll hopes to expand from eight entrepreneur members to 15 by December. Kofi Callender, executive director of Smarter in the City, has been tapped to run the Roxbury initiative.
“This program is not for people coming out of MIT and Harvard,” Deshpande says. “It’s really a program for people who are not getting into the new economy.”
David Parker, chief executive of EforAll, says you can walk down the streets of Lowell and Lawrence now and see many stores whose owners came through the program.
About 350 entrepreneurs have benefitted so far, and more than 80 percent are still in business.
“We’re hoping EforAll will be a catalyst for the community,” Deshpande says. “Maybe neighbors see the success and say, ‘If they can do it, maybe I can, too.’ ”
Parker says Deshpande’s foundation now funds only about 20 percent of EforAll’s $3 million annual budget. Other funders over the years have included Eastern Bank, Cisco, the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, the Morgridge Family Foundation, the Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation, and the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.
“You can be brilliant, but it’s all about who you know,” Parker says of EforAll entrepreneurs. “These folks don’t have a network they can take advantage of. That’s what EforAll provides.” — JON CHESTO
Changes at PR hybrid
Some big changes are underway at Schneider Associates. Sorry, we mean the Belfort Group.
After nearly four decades at the helm, Joan Schneider sold the public relations and consulting firm a year ago to her top lieutenant, chief executive Philip Pennellatore.
Pennellatore and his 20 employees then went through a meticulous branding exercise, looking for a new name that was not already in use. In the end, they settled on Belfort, after the Dorchester street where Pennellatore grew up.
“It was really brutal to find names,” says Don Martelli, the firm’s chief operating officer. “You go down this rabbit hole of names, and then you find there’s another firm [with that name] in Michigan that does exactly what you do.”
The group has shifted over the years from a pure PR agency to a business consultant hybrid, offering advice to property owners on land-use issues and to colleges about how to put more students in their seats. Among its newest clients: Boston University’s Questrom business school, Herb Chambers, Simon Property Group, and the Rochester Institute of Technology.
Another change is coming: Belfort is moving from 2 Oliver St. to the Studio co-working space at 125 High St. on Nov. 1. The relocation will save money, and allow for more flexibility as Belfort keeps going. — JON CHESTO
LaFleur joins ISO board
When one door closes, sometimes another one opens. Just ask Cheryl LaFleur. She lost her spot on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission after the Democratic leadership in the Senate failed to support her reappointment in January. (FERC has commissioners who are appointed by both parties.)
Now LaFleur will join the board of ISO New England, the region’s grid operator, on Oct. 1, replacing retiring member Raymond Hill. LaFleur could not have served on FERC and the ISO board at the same time.
LaFleur served as a FERC commissioner for more than nine years, including as its chair at one point. LaFleur’s plan now is to take on a portfolio of part-time roles, rather than a full-time job.
“New England is my home and where I have spent most of my career,” said the former utility executive. “And I welcome the opportunity to be part of an organization that serves electricity customers across the region.” — JON CHESTO
New official at wind firm
Governor Charlie Baker has another friend on the Vineyard Wind team.
Brendan Moss, former press secretary for the governor, starts this week as communications director at Vineyard Wind. The Boston joint venture, owned by Avangrid and Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners, is looking to build offshore wind turbines south of Martha’s Vineyard. But it’s faced a surprising slowdown in the permitting bureaucracy lately, despite efforts by the Baker administration to persuade federal regulators to move it along.
The financing for the joint venture’s first project is in jeopardy because of expiring tax credits, although the venture recently submitted more bids for utility contracts to build in a nearby section of the ocean.
Moss had worked in the administration since 2015, the Republican governor’s first year in the corner office. Another Baker ally, Jim Conroy, works as a consultant to Vineyard Wind, and advised the developer last year as it successfully pursued contracts with the state’s largest electric utilities. — JON CHESTO
Top lawyer gives back
Growing up, Nixon Peabody chief executive Andrew Glincher didn’t spend much time outside of his home city of Brockton. He worked for part of his senior year at a supermarket in Brookline, before going on to Boston College, but nearly all of his youth was spent in the City of Champions.
He certainly didn’t get exposure to sky-high law firm offices, like the one his firm occupies at 53 State St.
So Glincher decided this summer to offer a new generation of Brockton High School kids a look. Every Tuesday morning in July and August, a group of eight to ten incoming seniors visited with Nixon Peabody’s lawyers and professional staffers to learn more about the field of law, as well as professional careers and community involvement in general. For most of the students, it was their first time in a Boston office tower.
Mike Thomas, Brockton’s interim schools superintendent, was impressed. It looks like it will now be an annual summer event for Nixon Peabody.
“You couldn’t help but feel really good about doing it, and watching the students develop in their questions and their understanding,” Glincher says. “It was so gratifying . . . I just wanted to show them all the things they could do, and perhaps spark an interest in our business.”— JON CHESTO