September 7, 2017

State treasurer talks college savings at Worcester breakfast

State Treasurer Deborah Goldberg speaks at Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce event at Mechanics Hall Thursday as several Worcester-area business leaders are honored.

A thriving economy needs an educated workforce, State Treasurer Deborah Goldberg told attendees at a Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce event Thursday, as she stressed the effect the state's college-savings programs can have to make a college degree affordable.

The state treasurer's office recently started two pilot college-savings programs, SeedMA and SoarMA, the former of which was started about a year ago in Worcester.

SeedMA provides kindergartners in Worcester and Monson public schools a $50 deposit to establish a college-savings account known as a 529 plan. SoarMA is similar, except for seventh-graders. In that program, parents or guardians invest $100 toward a 529 plan, and the state kicks in $400. Worcester East Middle School is a participant, along with four others in the state, in Haverhill, Lowell, Pittsfield and Springfield.

If the programs are successful, they will be taken statewide, Goldberg said.

The treasurer only briefly touched on the state's recreational marijuana industry, which her office was supposed to oversee. Instead, a Cannabis Control Commission was recently appointed outside her office's jurisdiction. Goldberg, who appointed the commission's chairman, said the state's oversight will ensure public safety and proper business protocols.

Thursday morning's event at Mechanics Hall, called the Breakfast Club, also honored six people for their contributions to the Worcester area. The salutes, as the Chamber of Commerce calls them, went to:

  • Cliff Rucker, the owner of the Worcester Railers whose investments in the city also include a new $18-million Fidelity Bank Worcester Ice Center, with two ice rinks and two restaurants. The hockey team starts play Oct. 14.
  • Michael Robbins, the chairman of Cornerstone Bank, a new entity formed by the marriage earlier this year of SpencerBANK and Southbridge Savings Bank.
  • Pamela Provo of Provo Financial Services Inc. of Shrewsbury, which is marking its 25th anniversary this year.
  • Luis Pedraja, the new president of Quinsigamond Community College.
  • Sam Pepper Jr., who was appointed president and CEO of UniBank in June.
  • Matthew Groves, the store manager at Total Wine & More, whose Shrewsbury location is the company's fourth in Massachusetts.
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