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Innovations, Community Partnerships Build Buzz in Worcester

QCC Corporate Breakfast keynote speaker Katie Stebbins talks about the city’s potential
Katie Stebbins, Assistant Secretary of Innovation, Technology and Entrepreneurship for the Massachusetts’ Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development
Dr. Gail Carberry, QCC President

Contact: Josh Martin
Office of Institutional Communications
jmartin [at]

Release Date: 

The buzz is building in Worcester. This was the message Katie Stebbins, Assistant Secretary of Innovation, Technology and Entrepreneurship for the Massachusetts’ Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development, delivered at Quinsigamond Community College’s corporate breakfast Friday.

Comparing the city’s components to a crew team, she said “Worcester is really starting to row together in a significant way, through innovation, collaboration, and leadership. These things aren’t happening in isolation, they are happening here together, this is why the buzz in Worcester is starting to grow so rapidly.”

Ms. Stebbins worked in Springfield for 20 years before her appointment last spring to the office of Housing and Development, so she said she understands and appreciates the challenges of Gateway communities.

“Worcester is generating buzz, and you are really lucky to have a community college in your midst that gets it, this is a really special thing to have here,” she said.

She said Massachusetts is the No. 1 leading technology state in the country, and the state needs to let people know that. The state has 30 percent employment in innovation economy and the state leadership is looking to invest and support growth in the sector.

“There is world-class education in this city,” Ms. Stebbins said, citing WPI. “People know good graduates are coming from here and QCC is supporting that pipeline of students.”

In Massachusetts, 46 percent of employees have four-year degrees, she said the next state is 33 percent comparatively.

“You are building a community of innovation, with maker spaces, restaurants, there is entrepreneurship happening here,” she said.

Quinsigamond Community College supports entrepreneurship and technology careers, with its new QuEST Center, which includes state-of-the-art labs and a Fab Lab, where people can come in to create prototypes and use high-tech equipment.

“QCC is an important part of the economy of Massachusetts, providing a gateway to advanced education opportunities,” said QCC President Gail Carberry, Ed.D. “We offer an affordable, high-quality education.”

QCC has more than 13,000 students enrolled in credit courses, and offers eight areas of study, serving 45 cities and towns. “In the last eight years, we have seen an 85 percent increase in completion rates,” she said. “We have 25,000 alumni, and 75 percent of them stay and work locally.”

Dr. Carberry said the college works with other educational partners, such as vocational high schools and universities. The theme of Friday’s breakfast, which was prepared and served by students in the Hospitality and Recreation program at the Worcester Senior Center, was “Creating Sustainable Economic Development through Partnerships and Shared Investments.”

“WPI is one of our incredible partners, offering transfer programs to our students,” Dr. Carberry said. “There is no place like Worcester for collaborations specific to higher education opportunities for students and for business leadership.”

Dale Allen, Vice President for Community Engagement at QCC, spoke about the college’s partnerships with community boards, such as regional Chamber of Commerce groups, Workforce Investment Boards and other state and national groups. QCC works with these groups and corporate partners to explore which programming would benefit different areas of the economy.

“Before the QuEST Center opened our lab usage was at 95 percent, we needed more space and updated labs, which we can now offer,” he said. “We are working with organizations such as MassMEP and Mass Challenge to provide stackable programming in innovative technologies, such as photonics.”

He said the college continues to grow, with the investment in the downtown Healthcare Workforce Center, expansions in Southbridge and new programs in Marlborough.

Quinsigamond Community College is the most affordable higher education in Worcester County. As a regional leader in education and workforce development, QCC serves the diverse educational needs of Central Massachusetts by providing affordable, accessible, and high quality programming leading to transfer, career, and lifelong learning.