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The Class of 2015

40 Under 40 The Class of 2015
Director, Office of Planning & Economic Development, City of Holyoke; Age 32

Marcos Marrero

Marcos Marrero

Marcos Marrero called it “a completely unexpected but certainly welcome development.”

He was referring to Holyoke’s inclusion on Popular Mechanics’ list of “The 14 Best Startup Cities in America.” The Paper City placed sixth, directly behind Oakland, Calif., Portland, Maine, and Baltimore, Md., and just ahead of Boulder, Colo., Reno, Nev., and Des Moines, Iowa, all considerably larger urban areas.

“I’m not even entirely sure what they based this on,” Marrero told BusinessWest. “I don’t know if they used metrics or if it was their editorial board or if they had some internal scoring method.

“Whatever it was, we’ll take it … it’s validation that people are taking notice,” he went on. “This is not a ranking of the best 14 cities in the country in which to do business — it’s saying, ‘these 14 cities are doing something special; take a look.’”

Getting people to take a look on Holyoke is one of the many accomplishments Marrero has to his credit since becoming director of the city’s Office of Planning & Economic Development in 2012. He’s also played a key role in completing one of the largest urban-renewal plans in the state; securing funds for design and construction of a new train station; helping to win a three-year, $250,000 grant from the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston for the SPARK (Stimulating Potential, Accessing Resource Knowledge) initiative through the Working Cities Challenge; reincarnating the Holyoke Redevelopment Authority, where he serves as Executive Director; growing the city’s creative economy; bringing new businesses to the city’s downtown; and much more.

Marrero, a graduate of the University of Puerto Rico and Princeton University, said much has been accomplished in the city he now also calls home, but there is considerably more left to do. He equated putting the pieces together to a game of dominoes.

“We’re faced with many challenges, but there are also a lot of assets here, and you can be very creative in how you package those and how you work in partnerships to attract people to the city,” he explained. “It’s paying off, slowly but surely. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and Holyoke’s not going to be revitalized in a year.

“At the state level, we’ve been getting a lot of recognition,” he went on. “When other communities consult with state government leaders, they say, ‘talk to Holyoke; see what they’re doing. They’re in a similar situation, and they’re moving forward.’”

And moving onto more of those ‘best’ lists.

— George O’Brien

Photo by Denise Smith Photography

40 Under 40 The Class of 2015
Information Technology Services Officer, Country Bank for Savings; Age 35

Eric Devine

Eric Devine

Eric Devine says the desire to excel at everything he does is programmed in his DNA.

He is responsible for Ware-based Country Bank’s information-technology system, and has played a significant role in the institution’s recent technology-upgrade efforts aimed at streamlining services. In fact, Devine and his staff were recognized countless times for their ability to meet and surpass expectations, and although he admits his job can be challenging, he loves it and looks forward to going to work every morning.

“I am very competitive with myself and strive to exceed demands,” he told BusinessWest. “I like to be the best at everything I do and believe I am fortunate to work for a great company with a great team of people.”

Devine served as president of the John Boyle O’Reilly Club for eight consecutive terms and stepped down in January to spend more time with his wife Jennifer and their 5-year-old twins, Alana and Erin. But he began going to the club with his father when he was a child, and says it has always played an important role in his life. “I grew up in the Irish community, and the club is my second home.”

He was the 2015 Springfield Grand Parade Marshal for the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade, and a member of the Parade Committee. During his tenure at John Boyle O’Reilly, Devine helped to host a wide variety of events, expand the number of children’s sports teams, and raise funds for many worthy causes.

He was feted with the Christopher Burnham Award in 2014, which was presented to him by U.S. Rep. Richard Neal. He received the Paul G. Caron Award in 2008 and is actively involved with Griffin’s Friends Children’s Cancer Fund at Baystate Health Foundation. Inc. and participates in the group’s Marathon Challenge as a marathon runner and fund-raiser (he also ran the Boston Marathon in 2013).

Devine also serves on an advisory committee at Porter and Chester Institute and helps determine what students need to learn to be prepared for the workforce. In addition, he served as the 2014 chairman for the Committee to Elect Aaron Saunders for State Senate. He and his wife are also on the Boston 2024 Olympic Citizens Advisory Group.

That’s quite a schedule to keep, but Devine is undaunted. “I am passionate about always doing my best.”

— Kathleen Mitchell

Photo by Denise Smith Photography