Somerville, MA – The Somerville Chamber of Commerce announced today that it will host a panel discussion on February 28, 2017 entitled The Next Innovation Center: Why Not Somerville?. Attendees will learn insights from industry thought leaders as to how the City of Somerville can capitalize on the current market environment to realize its goals of becoming a regional jobs and innovation center. The event is scheduled to occur at the Holiday Inn – Bunker Hill, 30 Washington Street, Somerville, at 4:00 PM. Doors open at 3:30 PM.


“The forward momentum of the Green Line Extension and the innovative zoning currently before the Board of Alderman provide a unique opportunity for the City to lure anchor life science tenants to major squares, including Union Square,” said Chamber President/CEO Stephen Mackey.  


Panelists will discuss opportunities and challenges associated with building a fledgling ecosystem from the ground up and offer insight as to how Somerville can use lessons learned from nearby innovation clusters to enhance its efforts, lending their expert knowledge and experience to stimulate a lively and informed discussion. Panelists for the discussion include Robert Coughlin, President and CEO of MassBio; Kermit Baker, Chief Economist of the American Institute of Architects and Senior Research Fellow at Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies; and Peter Bekarian, Managing Director of Jones Lang Lasalle. The panel will be moderated by local business leader Adam Dash, Esq.


Panelist Robert Coughlin currently serves as President and CEO of the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council (“MassBio”), which represents over 975 biotechnology companies in the world’s leading life sciences supercluster. Coughlin’s mission is to advance Massachusetts’ leadership in the life sciences to grow the industry, add value to the healthcare system and improve patient lives. He is very familiar with all areas of the Massachusetts life sciences super cluster and is a passionate advocate for research and the biotechnology community. Prior to his position at MassBio, Coughlin served as the Undersecretary of Economic Development within Governor Deval Patrick’s administration and as a State Representative to the 11th Norfolk District.


Panelist Kermit Baker is a Senior Research Fellow at the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University and the Project Director of the Remodeling Futures Program. This research effort, which began in 1995, is the first comprehensive analysis of U.S. remodeling activity ever undertaken by the Joint Center. Its goal is to develop an improved understanding of the dynamics of the U.S. repair and renovation industry so that businesses can better take advantage of the opportunities that this market offers. Baker is also the Chief Economist for the American Institute of Architects in Washington, D.C. In this capacity he analyzes business and construction trends for the U.S. economy, and examines their impact on AIA members and the architectural profession. Prior to joining the Joint Center, Baker was vice-president and director of the economics department at Reed Business Information where he was responsible for industry forecasting. During his ten years at Reed he developed the Top U.S. Construction Market Report.


Peter Bekarian, Managing Director of Jones Lang Lasalle, has more than nineteen years of experience in real estate and has become an authority on Boston real estate markets. His expertise has allowed him to create innovative solutions for clients in sectors from technology to finance and beyond. Peter’s in-depth knowledge of the markets makes him an excellent asset in evaluating the unique developing markets in Somerville. Based in Cambridge, a city that recently underwent a similar economic boom, Peter has a close personal understanding of the needs of a booming market.


Following the panel discussion, attendees will be welcome to speak personally with panelists during a closed reception.




The Somerville Chamber of Commerce is the pre-eminent voice of the local business community and the leading network of employers, business owners and managers. The Chamber’s mission is to serve the membership while enhancing Somerville’s quality of life. Somerville is a place to visit, live, work and play. The New Group helps support the Chamber. Since 1997, the New Group has worked with the local community and greater Boston’s business media, planners, investors and developers toward the advancement of a world-class Boston/Cambridge/Somerville urban nucleus. The Government Affairs Committee oversees the Chamber’s public affairs events and public policy positions and initiatives.


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