What We’re Watching in 2020

The Year 2020 is shaping up to be a period of great growth for the Wachusett Business Incubator.  It is our hope we can play our role in the development of new opportunities for the citizens of Gardner and the region we call home; from Devens to Orange and every community in between.

Here’s what we’re watching for 2020.  These sectors are currently playing out in various ways in our programs or are industries really topical and show promise for the region(in our humble opinion).

We look for: industries that promote independent ownership, diversified revenue streams, promote health and wellness, work within a supportive ecosystem, are a benefit to the planet, are essential, that spread happiness and encourage a sense of community.

Urban Agriculture/Food Systems: What’s more essential than the food eat and the people who grow, process and market that food?  And in post-industrial revitalization zones such as ours, there is a tremendous interest in various solutions being introduced to the marketplace.  A look at existing resources, properties and community interest shows Gardner and the surrounding region is ripe for growth in various ways.  We recognize potential for our region in food processing, food distribution, social justice projects, community gardening, farmer’s market development, AG innovation (think research and development efforts), production or development of nutri-sudicals and more.


Experiential Services  I’m using this generic term to mean any business concept that involves clients required to experience the product and service offered.  This generally means a physical destination environment but can also include a virtual space.  Point being: the resiliency in such a business plan is that people interested in your product/service have to come to you for the unique experience.  This type of business when executed well pays off for its owners.  The WBI has services to assist those interested in developing unique experiences for their would-be or current clients.

Renewable Energy Opportunities abound for entrepreneurs in the renewables space.  We particularly are watching new developments in waste to energy here at the WBI.  There are few guarantees in life: one is the continuation of human population growth and therefore the expansion of human bio-solids and that of the animals we eat. Technologies and their resultant products and services in Pyrolysis, Composting and Anaerobic Digestion.  Execution of financial models in these segments have a profound influence on many of our other major systems such as the aforementioned food systems and can also address issues with energy resiliency and the de-centralizaiton of the grid known as microgrid development.  These segments are top of mind for state and national officials, researchers, funders and many in our community.


Hemp Production/Processing  With the surge in marijuana production, retail and products industry here in New England nearly everyone is excited in the entrepreneurial sector about Cannabis.  The WBI is particularly focused on various solutions utilizing strains of Cannabis Sativa generally referred to as Hemp.  In addition to medicinal opportunities the plant product has potential for use in a number of other industries such as textiles and the building materials.  A successful industry across the board would be a benefit to regional farmers, indoor growers, oil processors, researchers and other entrepreneurs.  The this end, the WBI is currently engaged with its first Hemp processing business within its Leadership Candidates Program.

HandCrafted Products (Feature Wood and Natural Fibers)  In an age of Amazon, hedge fund liquidation of major retailers and consumer apathy there exists an ever growing cadre of consumers eager for quality over quantity, who desire a relationship with the people making their higher end products and a connection to the ecosystem that bore him.  So too exist the craftsmen and women capable of delivering to market goods and services that match this need.  Closer to home the WBI has two such companies currently under our Leadership Candidate Program.  Wood You Build It delivers custom cabinet products with national distribution and all hand made in Gardner, MA.  Another sector to watch for big things in 2020 in Gardner is the Natural Fibers segment.


Village Style retail Given Gardner proximity to locavore movements, it’s population of centrally located citizens, trends in localized retail opportunities the development of numerous, small-box retail spaces, pop-up experimental spaces and other mixed-use village style retail or commercial opportunities would transform the way our local population makes its purchases.  Watch for opportunities in pop-up or shared retail followed by larger village-style opportunities


Independant Music (Content) Distribution The trend towards commodification (devaluing) of musical, literary and other artistic creation is fast coming to end.  The technology exists for widespread readily available distribution of music.  Where innovation is needed for recorded music, music merchandise and untold other industries who can license to use such innovation is in the financial distribution to artists and entrepreneurial developers.  Injecting equity into the equation will spur on new growth in artistic creation as the incentive to both create and make public increases.

Education Services  The world of education is quickly transforming.  At the higher ed level, the pathways in which people engage colleges and universities (where, when, how and why) is rapidly changing as are the ways student efficacy is being measured.  The expansion of k-12 data-driven curriculum, innovations in public funding formulas, the debate over test-based education and more has created tremendous instability where stability and efficacy are need most to benefit society.  But this has also created serious opportunity for entrepreneurial educators, researchers and more.

Local Journalism Few industries play the central role in our democracy that a robust, local journalism infrastructure plays.  With the dissolution or reduction of editorial and reporting staff at numerous regional papers in North Central MA recently, the WBI feels its critical to instigate the conversation regarding what role we and other entities might play in developing new financial models that can maintain and better still expand current reporting capacity.  The fundamental health of our democracy is no less at stake.

Don’t let our meager list stop you from engaging in any number of Wachusett Business Incubator’s Programs, Events, Seminars and Classes now beging offered at wachusettincubator. com.


Scott M. Graves is Executive Director of the Wachusett Business Incubator and founder of Smash Music, an independent music education and merchandising company in Massachusetts.  Find out how you can benefit from the WBI’s Leadership Candidates Program.


First WBI Intersect Series Weaves Artists & Consumers Together

A full house enjoyed the comfy confines of the Wachusett Business Incubator on January 17 for the first event of their Intersect Series.  ‘I am extremely pleased with the turnout this evening’, recounted Executive Director Scott M. Graves.  ‘Once again, our staff, Board of Directors and citizens can be proud of themselves for the ever-increasing critical mass of interest this organization is creating for the region.’

Audience members hailed from a variety of backgrounds and came from the Pioneer Valley, Berkshires, Southeastern MA, NH and VT.  It was an excellent opportunity for the WBI and panelists from Gardner to present our city’s story of de-industrialization, innovation, perseverance and craft to a broader group of interested people.

The Wachusett Business Incubator wishes to thank its panelists as well as the featured artists of our ongoing exhibit provided by Gallery Sitka of Shirley, MA.  A thanks goes to all of our audience members who came prepared with insights, ideas and inquisitive minds.  We say thanks especially to Katie Cavaccio of Free Ramblin’ Kids and Gretchen Laise, two producers who also made use of the first batch of textiles made in this project.

Panelists Michelle Parish and Peggy Hart recounted the process of sourcing and processing wool into yarn, then spinning the yarn into textiles on Peggy’s circa 1940’s loom.  Gardner Entrepreneur Erin Keiwel recounted her experience turning their fine and locally sourced textile into finished high-end hand crafted wool clothing.  Keith Tetreault, Owner of Plainview Farms of Hubbardston, MA took his audience into what it takes to lead a small freehold, diversified and destination farm including the care and breeding of alpacas. We also thank Keith and his wife for providing our guests with some quality time with a pair of their beautiful animals.

Their process was part of a grant-funded project to demonstrate the viability of such a craft-quality based process.

Working in conjunction with the Wachusett Business Incubator such a project could go from proof of concept to a viable business as together, we experiment to discover the viable financial model(s) that profit each member of the ecosystem and in turn provide consumers with a long-lasting, valuable product and art piece.

Discussion also included the importance of converting our current consumer culture through education and experience, so more people see real value in clothing whose price reflects the real cost of production and marketing.

The Intersect Series, a discussion series of the Wachusett Business Incubator seeks to instigate compelling discussion on topics the meet at the intersection of art and commerce.  Future topics/disciplines will include challenges faced by dealers and artists of fine art, changes in music merchandising and how they have effected indigenous american music and others.  Complete updates to the WBI events schedule can be found by clicking here.



Register Now for upcoming WBI Events and Classes

Skills Series: Defining Your Brand w/ Paul Gaj

Sewing Level (B) class w/ Erin Keiwel 

Accounting for Entrepreneurs w/ Paul Crowley



Accounting for Entrepreneurs Class to begin January 2020

The Wachusett Business Incubator, a Gardner-based non-profit economic development program dedicated to what comes next for North Central Massachusetts announces the start of an Accounting for Entrepreneurs Class.

The first 10-week session of Accounting for Entrepreneurs will begin on Thursday, January 30, 2020.  Classes are from 6:00PM-8:00PM.

Register Now for Accounting for Entrepreneurs

About your instructor

Paul Crowley is a business strategy and financial professional with a wealth of experience.  He is a former Managing Director of the Common Fund (Ford Foundation) and Vice President of private banking for Bank of Boston.

More recently Paul was an adjunct faculty member for Mount Wachusett Community College.  He is a graduate of Adelphi University (MBA), Fairfield University (MA Corporate and Political Comm) and Hobart (BA English)


“We’re excited to launch our first set of classes custom designed for entrepreneurs,” remarked Scott M. Graves in a recent press interview.  “Offering skills building training modules and classes to our candidates, our members and the general public represents one of the essential services required by our board of directors and staff to be of service to the region’s economic development efforts”.

As stated you may register for this course if you are a member of the WBI, a candidate in our Leadership Candidate Program or as a member of the general public.  Additional days and times for this course will be offered moving forward.

Register Now for Accounting for Entrepreneurs

Click Here for membership in the WBI

Sewing Classes at Wachusett Business Incubator

Fast on the heels of an intensive and productive 2019,  The Wachusett Business Incubator is expanding!  Our training and education services announce the addition of Sewing Classes beginning January 25, 2020.

All Sewing classes are being offered by textiles professional Erin Keiwel.  Classes are graded by difficulty and will feature projects so students walk away from each class with a strong sense of accomplishment. The class scheduled for January 25, 2020 will take place from 10:00AM-12:00PM in the training room of Wachusett Business Incubator 35 Sanborn St. Gardner, MA 01440.  Class is $20.00/student.  There is free parking and complimentary coffee/tea/beverage in our kitchenette.  

Check the Schedule for upcoming Sewing Classes to Register

Erin is a Graduate of the Massachusetts College of Art and Design.  She is a member of the Executive Committee for the burgeoning Chair City Legacy Makerspace of Gardner, MA and is in demand as an artist and instructor.

As more demand is created for Erin’s classes, more projects at Beginner (B), Intermediate(I) and Advanced(A) will be added.  Class Prices Vary by project.  Click here with your questions.

Think you have what it takes to teach at Wachusett Business Incubator?  Click Here!

Check the Schedule for upcoming Sewing Classes to Register

Register for Level (B) Class 02.08.20

Register for Level(I) Class 02.22.20

Register for Advanced Class 03.07-08.20


Wachusett Business Incubator Launches Skills Event Series

Register for this Event

The Wachusett Business Incubator, a business environment dedicated to fostering economic growth in the North Central Massachusetts region announces a new event series open to the public. Enter the Skills Series.

“The Skills Series will focus on core issues and fundamental skills that are essential to the well-being of all enterprises large and small,” announces executive director Scott M. Graves. ” Each event will focus on a particular topic and each are designed so you get the most out of your attending our exciting offerings.”

Each event will be hosted by a professional in the area of expertise covered and in some cases there will be a panel discussion.  Morning, afternoon and evening times have been spread out onto the calendar for 2020 to accommodate as many different situations for our audience as possible.  The WBI always has coffee, tea and beverages on hand and some events will include light fare and entertainment as applicable.

Click here to view our ever-growing schedule of events

We welcome Creative Director, Design Director, Illustrator, and Artist Paul Gaj on January 27, 2020

Paul will focus his presentation on  DEFINING, BUILDING, PROMOTING YOUR BRAND.

Register for this event

A bit about Paul: Paul Gaj attended the New England School of Art & Design in Boston, MA and the University of Massachusetts, North Dartmouth where he studied graphic and visual design. He also studied drawing at the Paier College of Art in Hamden, CT. He began his career at the Mystic Marinelife Aquarium as lead designer and opened his first studio in Mystic, Connecticut, where he serviced such clients as BBDO Advertising, General Electric, Mystic Seaport Publications, Pepsi and Thermos.

In 1995, Paul moved back to the Boston area and worked as the Senior Art Director for WTM Advertising, a technology agency whose clients included Hitachi, NYNEX (Verizon), Scitex and XEROX. He has since held Senior Art Director and Creative Director positions for a number of corporations and has designed for Chase Bank, Compaq Computer, Dunkin Donuts, Nortel Networks and 3Com.

Paul currently works from his studio in Gardner, Massachusetts where he is involved in Corporate Branding, Graphic Design, Advertising, Web Design and Digital Illustration projects. Architectural and Environmental Design Installations are also included in his work throughout New England. In addition to a prolific career in advertising and design, Paul has always been an avid watercolor and acrylic painter. He is a past member of the Mystic Art Association and the Concord Art Association in Concord, MA. and he has taught design at Chester College in Chester, NH. Paul is a member of the Gardner Area League of Artists. 

We highly encourage our candidates, members and the public to attend this very special inaugural series event.  Doors open at 8:30AM and all parking is free.  Register here to ensure your seat.  The admission fee of $10.00 will also be collected at the door.


Click Here for more information regarding the programs of the Wachusett Business Incubator. 

Click Here for our events calendar.  

Questions regarding our training programs?  Click here.