By Carol Kozma
BOSTON -- State Treasurer Steven Grossman wants to be your business governor.
"I keep coming back to jobs, the economy, but that's how I spent my life -- running a business," Grossman, 67, said during an interview in Boston this week.
Grossman's experience heading a family-owned business, and then as state treasurer, led him to make another bid for governor. His campaign is focused on greater economic security, job creation and economic opportunities.
"I am excited about the prospect of using the full toolbox that the governor has to create jobs, accelerate economic growth, and to spend the bulk of my time working on the economic security of every part of the commonwealth and leveling the playing field," said Grossman, who wants to create 15,000 new manufacturing jobs in the next five years.
Grossman said there are two commonwealths -- one with people with high levels of education, employment and innovation, and another made up of communities and cities in need of a governor who will create jobs.
The government should be careful not to over-regulate businesses while still protecting citizens and the environment, Grossman said.
He cited the example of Brystol-Myers, a bio-pharmaceutical company that invested $750 million in building a facility in Devens in 2007, hiring more than 1,000 employees before it opened in 2009.
Grossman said Mass Development, the state's finance and development authority, cleared roadblocks that might have dissuaded the company from settling in Devens.
"That, to me, is an example of how we need to be thinking about government, being fast, flexible and entrepreneurial," Grossman said.
On education, Grossman wants to clear the state's prekindergarten waiting list, extend the school day, and prepare all schools to be digital-learning ready, or have access to the Internet by 2016.
Retaining the 18- to 35-year-old educated population is the state's biggest challenge, Grossman said. He set up the young professionals' advisory council and asked young professionals what challenges they faced in the state.
Grossman said he wants to address the issues that concern them, which include transportation, housing, internships, job opportunities and substance abuse.
The treasurer also wants to invest more money into vocational-technical schools that train students for a trade.
"Even if they never go into that trade, at least they are being given an education that parents see as more well-rounded, more attuned to the needs of the uncertain climate we are in," Grossman said.
The Grossman family business began as an envelope company more than a century ago, and transitioned into a marketing company and online branding company.
Grossman worked in the Somerville-based family business for 35 years. In the 1990s, he served as chairman of the Massachusetts Democratic Party and then the national party. In 2002, he made his first bid for governor, then returned to the family business after losing the Democratic nomination.
After the economic downturn in 2009, Grossman said he thought his business background would make him a good treasurer. He was elected in 2010.
As treasurer, Grossman put the state checkbook online so taxpayers could find out how their money is spent, including all contracts coming through the Treasurer's Office to bid. He also built the small-business bank partnership, which placed $10 million worth of taxpayer money in banks that loan to small businesses owned by minorities, women and veterans.
In just over two years, the 53 banks that received $327 million made about 6,000 loans with a value of more than a billion dollars, Grossman said.
Colette Phillips, of Colette Phillips Communications Inc., in Boston, has known Grossman for two decades.
"He is uniquely qualified to be the governor of this state, having done an unbelievable job as treasurer," Phillips said.
She said shortly after he was elected treasurer, Grossman set his goals for office.
"If you do everything you said you are going to do in the first year, you will not have anything to do by year five," Phillips said she told him.
He answered that he would set new goals.
"Steven is the kind of person who sets the bar very high for himself," Phillips said.
Grossman said his biggest challenge in the coming year will be meeting people around the state while completing his duties as treasurer.
Peter Ubertaccio, a political-science professor at Stonehill College in Easton, said Grossman's advantages include already winning a statewide election and his ability to raise campaign funds.
"His people know what it takes to put together a race," Ubertaccio said.
A disadvantage may be the fact that over the past decade, Massachusetts has shown a tendency to gravitate toward Beacon Hill outsiders when electing a governor, as evidenced with the elections of Mitt Romney and Deval Patrick.
"Steve Grossman may not be their cup of tea," Ubertaccio said of voters, "and they may be looking for (a Joe) Avellone or a (Don) Berwick or a Juliette Kayyem," Ubertaccio said, referring to the three dark-horse Democrats seeking the gubernatorial nomination. Attorney General Martha Coakley is also in the race.
In the next year, Grossman said he will set a vision for the state, reach out to elected officials, including mayors and sheriffs, and organize grass-roots movements around the state, speaking about relevant ideas for voters.
"I think that combination of ideas and organizing is what ultimately makes a difference," he said.