Mayors of the Region, Unite!

Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone (fourth from left) stands beside Newton Mayor Setti Warren

On July 24, Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone and Newton Mayor Setti Warren visited Greentown Labs to discuss startups and their growing importance in today’s economy. The two mayors toured the Greentown facility, meeting with member companies along the way.

 One of the central themes of the visit was how Newton could emulate Somerville and create its own “Innovation Row.” This goal, explained Mayor Curtatone, could be achieved by keeping building space affordable. Emily Reichert, CEO and Executive Director of Greentown Labs, seconded the Mayor’s sentiment. Affordable office space was one of the main reasons for Greentown’s move from Boston’s Seaport District to a larger space in Somerville. “It’s about creating the right environment for these businesses to grow,” said Mayor Curtatone. 

The tour continued through the prototyping space where the group met with Erik Fogg of Helmet Hub. After learning about the company—their mission to pair bike rental kiosks with helmet options—Mayor Warren got to try out their prototype. He pulled a lever on the machine and a helmet fell right into his hands. Unfortunately, he didn’t put it on, as it was too small for his head. It seems Helmet Hub will have to keep searching for their new spokesmodel!

Helmet Hub’s Erik Fogg shares his company’s vision with Mayors Curtatone and Warren.

The next stop on the tour was Grove. As we rounded the corner in the prototyping space, we came upon what might best be described as sci-fi gardens.  The groves, as they’re called, are cabinets that grow food. Let me repeat that. Cabinets—that grow food. Standing in front of the groves, co-founder and CEO Gabe Blanchet fielded questions and shared the story of how his company came into fruition (see what we did there? Grove Labs grows food, fruit, fruition…get it?). Mayor Curtatone even requested a grove for his home!

Grove Labs’ CEO, Gabe Blanchet, fields questions from the tour group

The last stop on the tour was Refresh Water. Refresh manufactures water stations, where people can refill their water bottle, either with the classic (still or fizzy) or with a rotating variety of delicious flavor options. Their aim is to reduce the production of bottled beverages. Mayor Warren had a difficult time choosing a flavor but finally settled on lemon, his son’s favorite. “We need one of these in Newton!” he declared after tasting his drink. Business cards were exchanged. 

Refresh Water’s CEO, Sean Grundy, helps Mayor Warren choose a drink flavor

The visit was hopefully the first of many. It was clear that Mayor Warren was dedicated to bringing organizations like Greentown to Newton. He gained some valuable insights from Mayor Curtatone’s policies, and had a great time learning about some of our member companies. Greentown Labs also extended an offer to help collaborate with any new startups that arise in Newton.