(STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE) -- Senate President Therese Murray, who this coming week will leave the Senate after 22 years on Beacon Hill, plans to start her own private venture focused on attracting international investment for companies and research institutions in the state's growing technology fields.
Ending the speculation about her future, Murray told the News Service in an interview this weekend that she will form Mass-Ignite, a non-profit organization with a mission to aid local companies trying to do business abroad as well as to help foreign companies gain a foothold in Massachusetts.
The Plymouth Democrat said she will focus not just on the state's thriving life sciences sector, but also the emerging high-tech, eHealth, marine robotics and other areas.
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"I'm really excited about it," Murray said. "I believe Massachusetts can be number one in all those areas. We just have to market ourselves correctly."
First elected in 1992, Murray did not run for re-election this year after an eight-year run as the state's first female Senate president. Term limits imposed by Senate rules would have prevented Murray from serving again as president.
Murray, 67, told the News Service she wants to help local companies expand while luring some overseas interests to the state. She will also provide strategic consulting services.
She noted, for example, how she might be able to connect Massachusetts entrepreneurs in health care technology fields with grants available through the European Union to American companies.
Mass-Ignite will be housed at the offices of strategic communications firm Rasky Baerlein, which will also provide support staff to help launch the initiative.
"Right now I'm bringing myself," Murray said when asked about plans for future employees.
Though Mass-Ignite has not lined up any clients yet, Murray said she wanted to be "cautious" not to reach out to any prospects until after she left the Senate.
Murray has worked on numerous projects related to Irish and European business over her eight-year term as president. Recently, the European Union-United States eHealth Marketplace Conference was hosted by Murray and held in the State House this fall.
Murray has travelled extensively and visited Ireland in September along with Senate Majority Leader Stanley Rosenberg, who is expected to become the next Senate president on Wednesday. The goal of the trip was to promote economic development and investment in Massachusetts.
Murray hopes to tap into the relationships she's developed abroad during her time in the Senate for this next venture.
While she described Ireland, Northern Ireland and other countries in Eastern Europe where she has travelled as "our natural trading partners," Murray said she also intended to make inroads in the Middle East, South America and China.
By law, Murray is prohibited from lobbying the Legislature for one year after leaving office.