How Corporate Clout Helps Communities Thrive

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Business leaders are turning their attention toward building prosperity at home, in the communities where they live and work. They are using their most limited resource — their personal time — to tackle complex local issues, such as health and health care, K-12 education, early childhood development, housing, and hunger. They do so because they believe that thriving citizens and communities make for stronger companies, happier workers, and a positive leadership legacy. Early innovators in this space are transforming their companies’ priorities and leading cross-sector partnerships to drive local goals. Bob Rivers, CEO of Boston-based Eastern Bank, is one example: He set his sights on the struggling midsize cities in the region, building the first full-service bank branch in 20 years in Lawrence, Massachusetts, a formerly thriving textile mill town bowed down by poverty and joblessness. Rivers then helped launch the Lawrence Partnership, which offers bilingual work training, a venture loan fund for local businesses, and regional collaboration on broader structural issues. He is replicating the model in other Massachusetts cities and recently cofounded a new statewide business coalition to advocate for early childhood education.

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