Freelance Writer
Boulder’s Plan to Bolster Business
03.28.06 | No Comments
Category: General

Part of the “Images” series published by JCC Communications for various Chamber of Commerce Publications across the country

Boulder is fortunate in many ways, including having a well-diversified economy. Long a hub for entrepreneurial activity, the city and surrounding areas have high tech firms in bioscience, software and data storage as well as non-tech companies in natural foods, outdoor products and creative class pursuits. Mixed with federal laboratories and the University of Colorado, Boulder bubbles with business.

With the help of the University of Colorado, the Chamber of Commerce and the city, the Boulder Economic Council hopes to create a Boulder Innovation Center (BIC). Considered a “virtual business incubator,” it is one of the steps toward building an economic vitality plan to promote and recruit new businesses, ultimately bolstering a healthier economy for Boulder.

“The BIC will provide training, mentoring and other forms of assistance to start-up companies,” says Sean Maher, director of the Boulder Economic Council, “as well as later stage ventures who need help growing their business.”

Like a Big Brother program, this center will pair experienced CEOs with new entrepreneurs – the CEOs sharing their expertise with hungry new business people. It will also help companies raise early stage capital, assist them in finding affordable space and guide fresh businesses through the process of the oft-dreaded business plan.

For it to work, the city, EDC and the Chamber fuse their strengths, each bringing to the project the nuts and bolts to build and facilitate this plan successfully. The Chamber brings dollars and its broad brush of support to the business community. The BEC has access to leaders in banking, law, marketing and businesses, as well as funding. And the city cooperates with its departments, which businesses deal with on a regular basis. The city, too, has funding.

“Boulder has always been a hub for entrepreneurial activity,” says Maher. “These efforts will bring together all the resources available in the community and give entrepreneurs an easy way to tap into them. The elements of this plan have been extremely well received throughout the business community. “

Motorcycle Festival, A&E Feature Worcester Magazine
02.15.06 | No Comments
Category: General

Rev it Up
The Motorcycle Festival Comes to Worcester

In the summertime, Robert Gagney hops on his Hog and blasts down the highways to blow the cobwebs from his brain. To him, he says, that wind whipping through his head is as good as wind whipping through his soul.

The allure of the open road is a feeling, he says, that not only draws cyclists to the ride, but it draws them together even when they’re not on their bikes. Gagney, who owns Lonestar Leather on Millbury Street, has been promoting various events since 1984 and is headed into his fourth year with the Motorcycle Festival.

“I think when you ride a motorcycle,” says Gagney, “it just does something to you. It’s like riding a horse, only it’s an iron horse. You can’t describe the feeling. And it’s a fashion, and it’s a hot fashion right now. The bond comes from that. For example, the Firefighters Run, the first one they had – that was one of the most awesome things I have ever seen. We went riding for 40 miles in 15-degree weather, and there were a couple thousand bikers there. That comes within the being of a person and a biker – they got it.”

Gagney, as you might have guessed, is a motorcycle enthusiast, and says for him, ringleading a show to celebrate that is a natural extension of owning a leather shop. And having it in the winter gives cycle nuts a chance to get together and talk about bikes, even if they aren’t on their bikes. It’s also the prime opportunity for manufacturers to introduce their latest models.

“Well, we chose this time of year in particular because in the spring, the dealers don’t need us,” says Gagney. “They need exposure now. Plus, it gives the motorcyclists something to do. They can’t ride, but they can go see the new models, the new leather apparel and the fashion show.”

The festival features everything a biker would expect, and crave: antique showpieces on display, parts both old and new, hundreds of new models to check out, shows, custom bikes, leather goods, jewelry and more. Also, DJ Dan spins tunes and the trusty Time Capsule rocks through classic hits on the main stage. Bikemakers include Yamaha, Suzuki, Triumph, Indian, Harley-Davidson, Ducati, Kawasaki and Honda.

“I would say we have about 40 custom bikes,” says Gagney,” and of course Sheldon’s will bring some antiques. We’ll be up around 23 different manufacturers there.”

A $60,000 production each year, it is among five events Gagney has produced at the Centrum so far, collectively resulting in a $35,000 loss for him. The cycle fest is about fun and spirit, but he would be happy not to walk away from it in the red.

“This is quite a risk,” says Gagney, “especially when you have weather like last weekend. If we get the right weather, we should have a spectacular show.”

DETAILS:
What:Wheels-A-Rama Motorcycle Festival
When:Saturday, Jan. 18, from 11a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday, Jan. 19, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Where:Worcester’s Centrum Centre, 50 Foster St. Halls I and II
Cost:$10, kids under 12 free
For information, call 508-831-0184