Local Economic Development Leader Tibbetts Receives Inaugural Award

Labor Secretary Rosalin Acosta, right, with former state Economic Affairs Secretary David Tibbetts and Northern Essex Community College President Lane A. Glenn at a 2017 event honoring Tibbetts with the first Lawrence Partnership’s Economic Impact Award. (WHAV News file photograph.)

David A. Tibbetts receives the Lawrence Partnership’s inaugural Economic Impact Award from state Labor Secretary Rosalin Acosta, while Northern Essex Community College President Lane A. Glenn looks on. (WHAV News photograph.)

Haverhill-born and Lawrence-raised David A. Tibbetts Tuesday became the first recipient of the Lawrence Partnership’s Economic Impact Award.

In a ceremony at Everett Mills in Lawrence, Labor Secretary Rosalin Acosta noted Tibbetts’ long history of accomplishments. He first joined state government in 1983 as legislative counsel to the Executive Office of Energy Resources, serving Sharon M. Pollard, a state senator named energy secretary by former Gov. Michael S. Dukakis. He later became the agency’s general counsel and then acting secretary. In 1991, Tibbetts joined the administration of Gov. William F. Weld as general counsel to the Executive of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation. Acosta read a letter from Weld.

“In every position, to my personal knowledge, David provided exceptionally distinguished service to the taxpayers, consumers and business community of the Commonwealth,” Weld wrote.

In 1993, Tibbetts became general counsel and chief of staff to Economic Affairs Secretary Gloria C. Larson and then became secretary himself three years later. He remained when Lt. Gov. Paul Cellucci became acting governor in 1997 and stayed until 1999, when he founded the Merrimack Valley Economic Development Council.

Acosta, who said she has known Tibbetts for more than 20 years, praised his abilities to see opportunities in advance of others. She explained “it is very easy to jump on a ship that is already sailing, painted and beautiful.” Tibbetts, however, is the one who buys the wood and picks out the paint long before others see potential. Accepting the award, Tibbetts shared his philosophy.

“The Lawrence Partnership is a representation of what I have always believed in economic development through my career at the state level and at the regional level, that it’s not just a public-private partnership, it’s not only the elected leadership at the state and city level, it has to involve the business community and the educational community,” he said.

While praised for his behind-the-scenes work in establishing the Lawrence Partnership, Tibbetts credited Northern Essex Community College President Lane A. Glenn. He said the college is “building the workforce of the future, while also giving the city more pride.”

“The strength of a city is its people,” Tibbetts added.

He also received a citation from Gov. Charlie Baker, “in recognition of successfully promoting and implementing innovative economic development strategies.”

Hereafter, the award will be known as the David Tibbetts Economic Impact Award.

Retired and living in Newburyport, Tibbetts volunteers for the Merrimack River Watershed Council and has served as a director of the Institution for Savings for 15 years.