2021 Power 50: Jessica Strunkin
May 10, 2021 : Worcester Business Journal
Executive vice president of Devens
Colgate University and Boston University
A quarter century after Fort Devens closed as a military base, ambitious plans by MassDevelopment for remaking the site as an economic development hub are being realized.
Today, Devens is seeing the type of investment most Massachusetts communities could only dream of: a $500-million life sciences complex from Boston developer King Street Properties, a $300-million facility for Cambridge energy firm Commonwealth Fusion Systems, a 244,000-square-foot expansion by drugmaker Bristol Myers Squibb, and hydroponics grower Little Leaf Farm expanding to 10 acres.
All this came after a 2020 report from the UMass Donahue Institute found Devens contributes $4 billion to the economy. Much of that is thanks to Jessica Strunkin, who serves as the de facto town manager. Among her many roles is to recruit and maintain effective working relationships with Devens businesses, which total nearly 100 and employ more than 6,000 workers.
What do you think the future holds for Central Mass.? “People previously not familiar with the region are discovering a more reasonable cost of living, quintessential New England downtowns full of delightful shops, restaurants, and other businesses, cool and historic architecture and spaces, many existing and new cultural resources and attractions, and, of course, myriad recreational opportunities.”
Pool shark: “I’m no Minnesota Fats, but once upon a time I was quite the pool player.”