Boston and Cambridge have both transformed into centers for technology
and innovation because of investments by public, private and non-profit
institutions, many challenges lie ahead including how to retain the
talent needed to maintain and grow these important facets of each
city’s economic vibrancy. According to an upcoming “Talent
Magnets” report by the World Class Cities Partnership (WCCP),
approximately 53% of 2005 college graduates left Boston for another
At the WCCP-sponsored Chatham Forum on January 25, 2013, Boston City Councillor Tito
Jackson and Cambridge City Councillor Leland Cheung made an exciting
announcement. They are building a partnership
between the two cities to generate further technological advancement
and next-generation employment opportunities for the metropolitan area.
World Class Cities Partnership
The World Class Cities Partnership (WCCP) is an international urban
research organization based at Northeastern University. Mike Lake
and Dan Spiess are the Executive Director and Research Directors,
The mission of the WCCP is "to bring together civic, business and
academic leaders from cities spanning the globe for the purpose of
creating sustainable social change through policy research, development
and implementation of best practice solutions to common challenges."
Their partnership with cities around the globe demonstrates the
organization's international outlook: Barcelona, Boston, Dublin,
Guadalajara, Haifa, Hamburg, Lisbon, Lyon and Vancouver.
Boston's local coordinator for WCCP is District 7 Councillor Tito Jackson.
World Class Cities Partnership is one of many statewide efforts to promote
cultural understanding and economic continuity between the Greater
Boston area and the world. The organization’s report shares the best
practices for talent attraction and retention from cities around the
world. WCCP states that talent is a major currency driving smart
economic growth in urban areas, leading to more jobs and increased
“The Talent Magnets report demonstrates the opportunity for
Massachusetts and the Boston-Cambridge region to shift the discourse
around talent retention to one that includes student integration, young
professional lifestyles and not just affordable housing,” Michael Lake,
Executive Director of WCCP
The Chatham Forum
Every year the WCCP holds an annual Chatham Forum (in Chatham MA) which
is a strongly results-oriented, two-day conference and networking
retreat focused on addressing economic development and civic engagement
opportunities in Massachusetts and Greater Boston.
Bringing together civic, academic and business leaders in a
free-flowing setting, the Chatham Forum views itself as a springboard
for innovation. The atmosphere encourages collaboration and joint
initiatives and projects that will have a lasting impact in the
The Chatham Forum is a reiteration of the former "City to City Chatham” retreats which began in 2006.
Vital to the flavor of the Chatham Forum is the concept of
"unConference" - a way of conducting the forum that promotes
creativity, getting inspired and taking risks. Participants are
encouraged to take the initiative, to propose concepts and ideas and
build a team of collaborators and advocates to implement their visions
long after the Forum ends.
The 2013 Chatham Forum took place January 25-26 and began with an
overview of the key takeaways from the October Mission to Portugal,
including solutions to such urban challenges as eliminating high school
dropout rates, promoting the innovative city, incentivizing the private
sector to achieve public sector priorities and increasing citizen
Forum attendees included Massachusetts leaders who are known to be
innovative and strategically engaged, who share their ideas and
improving the Commonwealth and the greater Boston region.
All with the goal of helping to make
Massachusetts communities into
more vibrant ecosystems for young people, entrepreneurs, businesses and
- What new and innovative ideas
could be generated?
- What action steps could be taken?
Chatham Forum Outcomes
Consistent with the "unConference" loose and spontaneous orientation of
the forum, participants organized themselves into
self-selected sessions. "Vote with their feet," they were
told. Attend as many of the concurrent brainstorming sessions you
are interested in. "Action" is the by-word. Generate action
items for each of the topics offered by attendees.
The first announcement of the weekend came from Boston City Councilor
Tito Jackson and Cambridge City Councilor Leland Cheung. In
partnership with WCCP, the two sister cities will be hosting an
historic joint council hearing focusing on the issue of talent
attraction and retention, a topic that is covered in the upcoming
release of WCCP’s “Talent Magnets” report.
Participants engaged in modern, globally-oriented thinking:
Specific ideas that were generated as a result of this thinking:
- How to create innovation spaces for areas of the city that need it most
- How to connect small and medium-sized enterprises with global partners
- Ways to encourage recent immigrants to be more entrepreneurial
- Reusing (recycling) existing and abandoned buildings for new uses
- Housing solutions for workers in the innovation economy
- Startup Lisboa is now being considered as a model for a potential Startup Roxbury.
- Old buildings in Charlestown may now “Recycle History”
- Housing in the innovation economy is now more expansive and inclusive than simply providing micro-units for 20-somethings.
- Plans are already in the works for a day-long
gathering of international players to discuss incentives and
opportunities to take local businesses into the global marketplace.
More on the Joint Hearing Announcement
On January 31, 2013, the City Councils in Boston and Cambridge
announced that, in collaboration with World Class Cities Partnership
(WCCP), they will be holding a joint-hearing to discuss issues of
talent retention and job growth in the Greater Boston area.
|Boston City Councillor Tito Jackson
||Boston and Cambridge are linked historically, culturally and
economically. This effort marks an important step in these
cities’ relationship as we move further into the global and
technologically-driven 21st century. Developing job growth and
technological enhancement together will only help these cities function
as an economic unit.
|Cambridge City Councillor Leland Cheung
||The intellectual, moral, and cultural climates of Cambridge and Boston
are constantly evolving as a result of the ideas, passions, and
innovations of our student population. It is essential that the City of Cambridge and the City of Boston work
collaboratively to ensure that graduates of our colleges and
universities feel confident that the Commonwealth is a place where they
will be able to grow and thrive.
Each city has its own committee that focuses on technology, innovation and jobs growth.
The two committees will meet to confer over the best practices featured
in recently-announced report published by the WCCP. This
effort began with a 2010 joint-hearing spearheaded by Councillor Cheung
and District 8 Boston City Councillor Michael Ross, who was then the
City Council President.
- Cambridge’s Committee on Neighborhood and Long-Term Planning
- Boston’s Committee on Global Opportunities and Innovation and Technology
While Cambridge and Boston are distinct American cities, both thrive
off the other’s success. The discussion will generate a
collaborative checklist for public and private institutions to promote
the regional economic and cultural advancement.
Michael Lake, WCCP Executive Director
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Posted: February 4, 2013
Nancy J Conrad