Chuck Tanowitz and Chris Steele were presented with the Newton-Needham Chamber’s prestigious RL Tennant Award – the chamber’s highest honor – at the chamber’s annual Achievement Breakfast on Nov. 6.
Tanowitz, vice president of public relations at marketing and PR agency Eric Mower & Associates and Steele, an economic development specialist with Investment Consulting Associates, both played a crucial role in the establishment of the N2 Innovation Corridor, an area of Newton and Needham designed to attract innovation-driven companies.
The N2 Innovation Corridor stretches for nearly 500 acres along I-95 on the Newton-Needham line. It’s home to such companies as TripAdvisor, PTC, Big Belly Solar, Turbine, SharkNinja (formerly Europro), Verastem, CyberArk, and Karyopharm Therapeutics. Both Tanowitz and Steele were instrumental in guiding the Chamber’s board on the establishment of this community.
“Chuck and Chris epitomize the volunteer spirit that drives this Chamber, a spirit that is the real reason why we’re the fastest growing chamber in the state and how we’re able to host 100 events in one year,” said Chamber President Greg Reibman.
“Chuck is an amazing vision guy,” Reibman said. “He was instrumental in helping us think about the role our inner suburban communities can play in the innovation economy, but he’s also frank about the very real challenges we face. He steered our branding effort, leading the conversation when we came up with the N-squared name. He helped us create programs, events and messages designed to grow awareness of this effort, and his impact is clear as the Corridor continues to succeed.
“At the same time, Chris helped us roll up our sleeves and really think seriously about what needs to be done in the corridor, and how we get there,” Reibman added. “He’s been my mentor in understanding how businesses make location decisions and how business districts thrive.
“Chris also introduced the chamber to Steve Winter, from the Metropolitan Area Planning Council, and together the three of us collaborated on our application for the federal grant we received this summer from the US Economic Development Administration to create a competiveness study and marketing approach for the N2 Corridor.
Tanowitz and Steele have donated a significant amount of their professional expertise and passion to the success of this project. Because of their dedication, this is the first time the award was presented to two members of the chamber.
“I believe that the Newton and Needham area can play a central role in the innovation economy of the greater Boston area,” Tanowitz said. “Of course, the work here is far from over. In fact, the N2 project continues with a research effort based on a $50,000 grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration to help establish the N2 Corridor as a live, work, play destination. Chris and I see this as a long-term effort that will yield results long into the future.”
"I'm proud of the work we have done to enhance our communities' profile in regional economic development,” said Steele. “Our goal is to make the N2 Corridor part of a much larger effort to grow the entire metro-Boston region, which is why we're also excited by the success of places like the Charles River Mill District. It's gratifying that our work has helped demonstrate how the City of Newton and the Town of Needham are welcoming and supportive of innovation-driven businesses."
The RL Tennant Award is the chairman’s award, presented in recognition of a Newton-Needham Chamber member’s outstanding contributions to the economic and/or cultural vitality of the communities. Recent honorees include Ken Brennan of the Village Bank, Dr. Michael Jellinek of Newton-Wellesley Hospital and Peter Smith of Green Newton.