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The Boston Globe OnlineBoston.com Boston Globe Online / Business / Globe 100
Global job generators fueled by area's universities

Such firms as Raytheon, Staples depend on academic centers

By Jerry Ackerman, Globe Staff, 5/16/2000

hink of Massachusetts not just as a place to work, but as an engine of job creation worldwide.

James Tobin, CEO of Boston Scientific. (Globe Staff Photo / David L. Ryan)

That's what The Globe 100 employment survey does this year, changing its pattern from tracking employment within the state to ranking Massachusetts-based companies by the total number of people they employ in all their locations around the world.

The findings don't tell the whole picture about employment in Massachusetts - the big supermarkets, for example, while owned by Europeans, are nevertheless major economic forces here.

But The Globe 100 survey provides context for a widely held belief that the state's strongest economic assets are its vibrant colleges and universities and the culture they engender - a community that provides companies here with a continuing supply of trained and talented managers, researchers, and innovators.

With the revised methodology, Lexington-based Raytheon Co. took over first place from Bell Atlantic Corp., which had held the lead by virtue of its 18,000 employees in Massachusetts.

Raytheon, beset with financial problems, has been downsizing, but still has 105,300 employees worldwide, about 13,400 of them in Massachusetts. The company's installations range from defense-related facilities here and in Arizona and Texas to outposts in the Antarctic, Brazil, the Middle East, and Philippines.

At the same time, Raytheon headquarters depends on New England colleges and universities to provide a steady flow of talent to the corporate ranks. To keep that flow moving, a spokeswoman said, Raytheon maintains active relationships with more than 80 undergraduate and graduate schools in the region.

Second place in The Globe 100 employment survey goes to fast-growing TJX Cos. of Framingham, where management also considers proximity to major business schools important.

With 1,204 T.J. Maxx, Marshalls, HomeGoods, and A.J. Wright stores in the United States, 100 Winners stores in Canada, and 54 T.K. Maxx stores in the United Kingdom, Ireland, and the Netherlands, TJX has more than 62,000 employees worldwide.

In third place: FleetBoston Financial Corp., the product of last year's merger of Fleet Financial Group and BankBoston, with 59,200 employees at the end of 1999. This is 400 fewer than last year's total at the two now-merged banks, but includes FleetBoston's sizable operations in Latin America, still operating as Bank of Boston.

Massachusetts can't be compared to Michigan or Texas or California when it comes to housing the headquarters of auto makers or oil companies or entertainment combines whose output permeates American culture these days.

But the Bay State lineup nevertheless reaches around the world, with such companies as Boston Scientific Corp., a medical devices company with operations here and in Europe; Parexel International Corp., which conducts medical research on six continents; and Cabot Corp., a manufacturer of specialty chemicals with plants in 23 countries.

All depend to some degree on the local academic community for their managerial, scientific, and technological leadership.

''If I were to come in from Mars and want to start a science-based, technology-based company, I would look first for where the pool of this kind of talent is the deepest,'' said James E. Tobin, chief executive at Natick-based Boston Scientific. ''Cambridge, Massachusetts, is the epicenter of that world.''

This view is echoed at Staples Inc. in Framingham. While still building its network of retail office supply stores in the United States, Canada, and Europe - 1,195 stores to date - Staples is pushing hard to make itself a brand name in online ordering.

As the Staples ''dot-com'' operation was being launched last year, spokeswoman Shannon Lapierre said the company concluded there were only a handful of cities where it could hope to find the trained information-technology help it would need.

The Staples.com division in Framingham now has 140 employees, Lapierre said, and expects to double the number this year.

On the other side of the equation, a majority of students graduating from Massachusetts colleges usually want to stay here, says Julie Miller, career services director at Boston College's Carroll Graduate School of Management.

As a result, she said, ''employers find they don't need to go any farther than the Boston area to get the management and scientific and technical talent they want.''


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