Before the Patriots wrapped up their fifth Super Bowl title, team owner Bob Kraft had some other local business to which to attend.
Kraft is part of a small band of some of the region’s top CEOs, the Massachusetts Competitive Partnership, and heads the group’s international trade and marketing committee. And, pointing to exports from the state valued at more than $25 billion in 2015 and more than 111,000 jobs directly supported by goods exports, Kraft and some other members felt they needed to impress upon legislators the importance of trade.
“I’ve consistently tried to help this group attract and retain foreign businesses and attract new industries to the state,” Kraft said in a telephone interview.
“Given the world we’re in and given the costs of operating in this area are a little higher, we have to continue to foster our ability to compete on the export markets with things that are unique to us,” Kraft added, citing medical devices, life-science products, and precision manufacturing.
Kraft and the partnership’s chairman and former Raytheon CEO William Swanson met with state Senate President Stanley C. Rosenberg to press for the creation of an export development committee in the Legislature.
At a second meeting, this one with House Speaker Robert DeLeo, Swanson was joined by Putnam Investments CEO Robert Reynolds, vice chairman of the partnership. Kraft joined them by phone from Washington, where he was attending President Trump’s inauguration.
Kraft’s relations with Beacon Hill have not always been so rosy. The Krafts’ efforts in the 1990s to secure land and infrastructure for a new stadium dissolved into recriminations between the team and state and Boston officials, and it looked briefly as if the Patriots would relocate to Connecticut. (A central figure in keeping the Pats in Massachusetts: an up-and-coming NFL executive by name of Roger Goodell.)
But both Rosenberg and DeLeo signed on to Kraft’s exports pitch and, easy as a 25-point comeback in the second half, a new panel was born, officially the Joint Committee on Export Development. Marblehead Democratic Representative Lori Ehrlich and Lowell state Senator Eileen Donoghue were named co-chairs.
“I love this region, and I want this region to win every way we can,” Kraft said.