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Boston World Partnerships calls it quits
November 15, 2012
BOSTON WORLD PARTNERSHIPS,
an economic development networking company launched in 2009 with $1 million in Boston Redevelopment Authority money, is shutting down.
In an email to supporters, executive director Yoon Lee said the company will cease operating as a nonprofit charitable organization but continue as a “virtual organization.” She said the company’s blog, called Global Business Hub, will still be published by the Boston Globe
. She also said a website dedicated to helping startups find office space would continue.
Boston World Partnerships was a digital leap of faith for Mayor Thomas Menino, the self-described urban mechanic who chaired the company’s board. He helped arrange the BRA seed money and his interest attracted additional financial support from such corporate heavyweights as Procter & Gamble, State Street, and Fidelity.
As Yoon describes Boston World Partnerships in her email, the firm was an attempt “to use social media tools to create an alumni strategy for promoting and growing the local economy.” She credited Boston World Partnerships with retaining or helping to create more than 1,000 jobs, supporting the growth of more than 900 companies, and “promoting Greater Boston’s brand as a world-class center of talent and innovation.”
It’s unclear whether the company is shutting down because funding dried up or because the concept didn’t pan out. Yoon couldn’t be reached for comment. The company’s website
doesn’t mention any change in the firm’s status.
Dot Joyce, the mayor’s spokeswoman, said in an email that Boston World Partnerships served its purpose well. “Before any social media professional groups were introduced, Boston was creating its own network of connectors. Now, those connectors will continue to do their work through the many new social media groups and other organizations and events throughout our city,” she said.
A connector was the name Boston World Partnerships gave to people who were well connected in Boston and around the world and willing to share their knowledge with other business people who might be interested in coming to or expanding in Boston.
At the launch of the company in February 2009, Menino said the firm was a rejection of the economic development status quo, which relied on advertising and trade missions. “Boston can drive forward while other cities are stuck in neutral,” he said at the time
The launch of Boston World Partnerships was pushed by Mark Maloney, a former director of the BRA who went on to serve as the company’s unpaid president. Members of the board of directors include Peter Meade, the current BRA director; Greg Bialecki, the state’s secretary of housing and economic development, and several prominent academic and business leaders.