WATERTOWN, MA – Susan Houston, Executive Director of MassEcon for 25 years, will step down at the end of 2018.
“It’s been a great privilege for me to serve as MassEcon’s Executive Director and to guide the organization to become a respected voice within the economic development community,” Houston said in a letter to MassEcon members. “Our accomplishments are truly the result of many hearts and minds. Without this hardy team – Team Massachusetts! — we would not be the MassEcon we are today. Collectively, we have made a difference.”
Houston thanked the Board of Directors, “MassEcon’s amazing staff, whose impact goes far beyond their numbers,” and the dozens of corporate and other members of MassEcon, who she said “support us with your expertise, time, and dollars, and the private and public sector organizations with whom we’ve partnered over the years.”
For 25 years, the Massachusetts Alliance for Economic Development, known as MassEcon, has contributed to the growth and economic health of Massachusetts. Founded in 1993 by a consortium of utility companies led by then-Boston Edison and embraced by the Weld administration, MassEcon was the first private, nonprofit partnership to promote Massachusetts as a good place to do business.
Over a quarter century, MassEcon has facilitated the location of at least 275 companies, associated with 30,000 jobs, as they expanded or relocated to Massachusetts. MassEcon’s annual Economic Impact Awards have highlighted how Massachusetts companies can succeed across industries and across the state. MassEcon is a nonpartisan group that has worked with all administrations – now six – and served as a bridge from one to the next.
“We all heartily acknowledge Susan’s clear leadership over the years and her contributions to economic development in the Commonwealth,” said Stephen P. Flavin, Chairman of the Board of MassEcon and Vice President for Academic and Corporate Engagement at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. “The solid foundation and organization that she built and sustained over her tenure, through many state administrations, is her legacy, and the organization is in great shape to reach even higher levels of achievement.”
MassEcon has engaged KLR Executive Search Group to secure a successor. The company plans to have the next Executive Director in place in the fall during Houston’s final months at MassEcon to ensure a smooth transition. Houston said she is not retiring and may continue to work in the area of economic development.
“Right now my goal is to ensure that 2018 is a banner year for us and to support the search process and the transition that follows so that you, our members, will go into 2019 with full confidence,” she said in her letter. “Thank you for making MassEcon’s work possible and for making my tenure at MassEcon the great pleasure that it is.”
Helping the Commonwealth grow its rich economic base, MassEcon each year hosts out-of-state events that introduce the assets of Massachusetts to corporate site selectors, those professionals on the front lines representing companies considering expanding or relocating. In 2017, MassEcon hosted hospitality receptions in New York City, Dallas, Chicago, Philadelphia and Seattle.
Recently MassEcon collaborated with three of its member real-estate firms to present a package of a dozen possible sites to Amazon executives engaged in the search for the company’s second North American headquarters.
“I’m a huge Susan fan,” said Gloria Larson, President of Bentley University and former Massachusetts Secretary of Economic Affairs. “I worked a lot with MassEcon, and it was really all about our regional and U.S. and global reach. It fit hand in glove with what Gov. Weld and my team were trying to do, putting Massachusetts on the map with respect to economic goals.”
Today there about 70 MassEcon members, including regional organizations like the Western Massachusetts Economic Development Council, banks like Citizens, industry groups like NAIOP, and consulting firms like VHB. MassEcon members also include real estate firms like CBRE/New England, law firms like DLA Piper, architectural firms like Perkins & Will, life science companies like Sanofi Genzyme and Shire, communities like Chelmsford and Boston, and educational institutions including UMass.
One of the major initiatives of MassEcon has been the ReadyMass 100, an online portfolio on MassEcon’s website that showcases Massachusetts as good place for business and specifically identifies both developable land and existing buildings that are potential homes for expanding companies and their employees. Companies including Kronos, Bose, and Akami have all located in ReadyMass 100 properties.
In 2001 MassEcon convened the first Statewide Regions and Industry Clusters Forum. MassEcon’s lean staff arranges conferences, sometimes cosponsored with other business organizations, and travels to other parts of the United States to learn and connect with companies that might be right for the Bay State.
In 2011 the organization was appointed to a permanent seat on the Massachusetts Marketing Partnership Board, a feature of the Patrick Administration’s economic development legislation. MassEcon has for 10 years convened welcome receptions that recognize companies that have expanded into Massachusetts from other states and countries. It will be hosting for the 15th year the Annual Team Massachusetts Economic Impact Awards, which celebrate companies from all regions of the Commonwealth that have contributed to the Massachusetts economy, measured in employees and investment.
Before joining MassEcon at its launch, Houston was experienced in commercial real estate development, project management, and leasing at Cabot, Cabot & Forbes and JMB/Urban Development Company. She serves on the board of directors of the New England Economic Partnership, Jewish Vocational Services, and the Brookline Economic Development Advisory Board. Houston also represents MassEcon on the Board of the Massachusetts Marketing Partnership and served on the Governor’s Economic Development Planning Council.
She is a past board member of New England Women in Real Estate (now CREW), and the Massachusetts Economic Development Council. In her spare time, Houston can be found at her favorite neighborhood haunts, the Brookline Booksmith and Coolidge Corner Theatre. She enjoys the outdoors, exploring cities on foot, and cooking with family and friends. Houston holds an undergraduate degree from Boston University and a Master in City Planning from MIT.
MassEcon is a private non-profit entity that serves as the state’s private sector partner in promoting Massachusetts as the premier choice for business growth. Launched in 1993 by the Governor’s Council for Growth and Technology, MassEcon promotes Massachusetts by providing information services to companies seeking to expand or relocate to the state. MassEcon’s services include the Site Finder Service, the Research & Information Service, and the Massachusetts Ambassadors program. MassEcon works to ensure that business stays, grows, and thrives in the Commonwealth.