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Four firms lauded at Cambridge First Day

Four Cambridge businesses received recognition awards at the fifth annual Cambridge First Day celebration for exemplifying the spirit of entrepreneurship in the Cambridge community. For the first time, the city of Cambridge joined MIT as co-host of the event, held June 10 in the Stratton Student Center.

Cambridge Councilor Anthony D. Gallucio, chair of the City Council's Economic Development Committee, presided over the awards program. In making the presentations, he said, "The awards are given in appreciation of the company's contributions to the economic health and vitality of Cambridge."

Cambridge First Day, organized annually by the Office of Government and Community Relations, was established by President Charles M. Vest in 1993 to express MIT's appreciation to the community for the productive economic partnerships that exist between the Institute and the public officials, businesses and residents of Cambridge.

In the first year, MIT honored Cambridge businesses with whom MIT has been working for 50 years or more. MIT then recognized minority-owned and women-owned Cambridge businesses in 1994, small Cambridge businesses in 1995, and Cambridge biotechnology companies in 1996.

This year the focus was on entrepreneurship. Cambridge Mayor Sheila Doyle Russell opened the program by presenting a resolution supported by the entire City Council. In part, her resolution read: "Entrepreneurship is a well-nurtured and strongly supported activity in our city. Cambridge is the home of countless start-up companies that have been developed and encouraged by the universities, as well as through a variety of city and community initiatives."

Outgoing Chairman of the Corporation Paul E. Gray, representing MIT, said, "This gathering is an opportunity for the Cambridge community as a whole to reflect on--and celebrate--our great entrepreneurial successes."

Cambridge City Manager Robert W. Healy noted the strength of the MIT/Cambridge partnership, particularly in the area of economic development. He also invited start-up companies to take advantage of the many city programs which provide assistance and support as companies implement their business plans.

The 1997 winners were:

Chicago Auto Inc., founded in 1984 by Boomer Kennedy to help women understand how an automobile works and to provide repairs in a friendly, nonthreatening environment. The firm also offers seminars on car maintenance to men and women. The firm, still owned by Ms. Kennedy, has eight employees, including an apprentice.

The OfficeMATES, an on-site computerized bookkeeping firm founded in 1963 by Rory J. Perry with partners Theresa Cardoza and Daryl Hughes. The firm generated revenues in excess of $1 million last year and employs 50.

Active Control eXperts Inc., known as ACX, which applies laboratory technology to the production of consumer products. The firm teamed with K2 Corp. to develop a "smart ski" which uses a piezoelectric control module to reduce vibration and provide better contact with snow. Founded in 1992 by MIT graduate Ken Lazarus and Professor Edward F. Crawley, chairman of the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics, ACX employs 50.

SatCon Technology Corp., founded in 1985 by David B. Eisenhaure and other entrepreneurs from MIT and Cambridge, which develops electromechanical devices for industrial and transportation uses. The firm had $9.4 million in sales last year and employs 102.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on July 16, 1997.

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