CEO Corner

Dear Friend,

Congress returned from August recess carrying the messages they heard from constituents around the country, voters who expect their elected officials to tackle problems and improve the world around them. Many issues remain in the dwindling days of the 117th Congress as we head toward the important midterm election season. The Biden Administration has been focusing its efforts on ensuring voters understand the significant achievements achieved in coordination with congressional democrats-- passage of historic legislation like the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 and the CHIPS Act, as well as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law of 2021. 

Figure 1: Sourced from MassLive

O’Neill and Associates’ Federal team was instrumental in bringing President Biden to Boston Logan International Airport to celebrate a $62 million grant funded under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill that will modernize Logan by both increasing the airport’s capacity while also improving environmental performance. 

‘Infrastructure Czar’ Mitch Landrieu, a former Mayor of New Orleans, was appointed by President Biden to oversee the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) implementation for the White House. Mitch has been a dear friend of mine and of John Cahill since he served as Mayor.

When the award announcement was made back in July, we reached out to Mitch to invite him to the celebration of the grant at Massport. We knew that the projects funded by the grant fit perfectly into the Administration’s goals and offered a great opportunity for President Biden to take a victory lap on a new program created by last year’s infrastructure bill. Our invitation made its way to the desk of Chief of Staff Ron Klain, who understood the value of the opportunity, and we were thrilled to spend time with the President this week here in Boston.

The Airport Terminal Program is a new FAA grant program that funded nearly $1 billion in projects at 85 airports across the country. The grant awarded to Logan was the largest award made to any major U.S. airport, and will be used to fund improvements to Terminal E that had been delayed by COVID-related financial constraints, as well as improvements to critical terminal area roadways and the airport’s power system, which will be more energy efficient—greener—while meeting the future needs of this key element of the Massachusetts and New England economy. As President Biden said at the celebration of the grant on September 12th, “We are creating a modern terminal worthy of America’s City on a Hill.”

The President’s speech was preceded by a prestigious assembly of local, state and federal officials including Governor Baker, Mayor Wu, U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh, Senator Warren, Senator Markey, Congresswoman Pressley, Assistant Speaker Clark, Congressman Lynch, Congressman Keating, Congressman Moulton, Congresswoman Trahan and Congressman Auchincloss.

Figure 3: Sourced from Assistant Speaker Clark's Instagram

Assistant Speaker Clark’s speech reminded all of us that the funding for Massport is just the beginning of the federal investments making their way to Massachusetts under the multi-year IIJA.

“The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will improve our roads and bridges, clean our air and water, expand broadband access and create 2 million jobs every single year for the next decade,” Clark said at the terminal. “These jobs will be union jobs; these jobs will be green jobs. This is an investment in our future.”

The IIJA authorizes $1.2 trillion for transportation and infrastructure spending with $550 billion of that figure going toward new investments and programs. Funding from the IIJA is expansive in its reach, addressing energy and power infrastructure, access to broadband internet, water infrastructure, and more. It is the largest investment in clean energy infrastructure in American history.

Figure 4: Sourced from MassLive

“To put it in a nutshell, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law basically doubles the annual level of funding we had anticipated to receive over the course of the next five years,” Baker said as he joked about the constant stream of Massport construction. “It will dramatically change the way we live and work, and in some cases, play here in Massachusetts.”

Infrastructure investments transform cities and towns. The IIJA is the single largest investment in our national infrastructure in the 66 years since the Interstate Highway system was established. Thirty years after the dawn of the Interstate era, the last segment of the Interstate system was authorized when Congress approved funding eligibility of the Central Artery/Third Harbor Tunnel project, the Big Dig. For those who live in Boston or travel through it, we know how this project has changed and improved the City of Boston and our waterfront. To say the Central Artery/Third Harbor Tunnel project was transformational would be an understatement.

I look forward to seeing these investments come to fruition both for the improvements they will provide and the jobs that will be created by the investment. I applaud our elected officials in Congress and President Biden on the passage of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.


Tom O’Neill

Seven Letter New Hire

We are thrilled to welcome Drew O'Brien to Seven Letter as a Partner, working out of our Boston office. Drew is a former EVP and MD at BCW, and was also President of Direct Impact. Prior to his agency work, he had a long career in government and politics at the global, national, state and local levels. Drew will develop business across our numerous practices, lead complex client engagements and grow relationships with global corporate brands. Welcome, Drew!

O'Neill and Associates New Hire

O’Neill and Associates is pleased to welcome Jim Gordon as a vice president in our Federal relations division. Prior to joining O'Neill and Associates, Jim managed federal relations for a North American energy infrastructure company and spent more than 15 years with US Representive Stephen Lynch as a Senior Policy Advisor in DC and as the District Representative in Boston.

State of the Workforce

Figure 1: Sourced from

Even though the dynamics of labor and employment in the US have been complicated since the days of our founding, outside of the Great Depression, there may be no more challenging moment in history than right now. With the worst days of the coronavirus behind us – inflation still looms, the supply chain continues to struggle and the residual employment effects of the pandemic may very well be here to stay, with real implications for employers, the real estate market and the businesses like restaurants and office supply stores who rely on centralized and vibrant workplaces for their core customer base. Even our office vernacular -- the Great Resignation, quiet quitting, remote and hybrid workplaces, teams, zooms – seems changed forever.  


But like most bad news, there is also good news for American employers and workers. A recent Gallup poll found that organized labor is currently at its highest popularity in this country since 1965. A potentially economically devastating rail strike was recently averted through the intercession of Labor Secretary Walsh. Workers have successfully organized in highly visible environments like Amazon and Starbucks. The August jobs report showed slow but steady growth with 315,000 jobs added. And wages in the US are up 5.2% from a year ago. 


In short, we remain in an indefinite period in which the ways we work and interact professionally will continue to be a challenge for many in the workplace and is thus a challenge to those of us who are relied upon for sound professional guidance and advice. As trusted advisors and strategists our goal should be to help our clients and prospects navigate that delicate space between the good news and the bad news and to help them get to a place where they are operating – and communicating – what makes true professional and economic common sense for their unique organization. 

Drew O'Brien, Partner, Seven Letter

What is in store for fall air travel?

After a horrendous summer worldwide for air travel, consumers are worried that this fall travel season and particularly the Thanksgiving holiday will be a repeat. The answer…this fall may be better but not by much. The shortages, the challenges, the weather, haven’t really changed.

All that has changed is that air carriers, the airports and air traffic controllers are in a slightly better position to respond and limit the chaos. But cancellations and chaos there will be.

The summer was particularly challenging as the perfect storm of pilot, ground handling and air traffic controller shortages all converged just as the number of passengers ballooned to pre-pandemic levels. The system simply collapsed worldwide. The rising prices and weather events due to climate change combined for the worst period of travel ever.

Looking forward there are still steps you can take to make travel less stressful, but it will cost more and it will take more involvement. First, book direct or try to reduce connections to a minimum. If you must connect make sure you leave enough time to get to your next flight (at least one hour). Next, try to fly earlier in the day. Finally, don’t check luggage if you can help it and buy refundable tickets.

In conclusion, do your homework. There are good websites that track flight delays - FlightAware is a good resource and don’t ignore the new DOT “Airline Customer Services Dashboard” just recently launched by DOT Secretary Pete Buttigieg. It is useful in identifying your rights by air carrier. As you’ll see some carriers are much more consumer-friendly. In short, you need to treat air travel as a participatory event from start to finish. 

Peter Goelz, Senior Vice President, O'Neill and Associates and Former Managing Director of the National Transportation Safety Board 

Massachusetts FY23 Budget Recap

Matthew Irish, Vice Chairman

Lindsay Toghill, Vice President

After months of debate, the final Fiscal Year 2023 budget was signed by Governor Baker on Thursday, July 28th. The $52.7 billion operating budget made significant investments in early education and childcare, housing and homeownership, college financial aid, economic and workforce development, behavioral health care and local aid.

Notably, the statewide organization to support homeless individuals, the Coalition for Homeless Individuals (CHI), secured $110,000,000 for programming to assist individuals who are homeless or in danger of becoming homeless in every part of the Commonwealth. This is a significant increase from FY22, and recognizes the ongoing effort to help those most in need. CHI was also able to acquire $5,000,000 for rapid transition of homeless individuals into sustainable permanent housing program, and $5,000,000 for supportive housing programs for homeless individuals. Everytown for Gun Safety successfully advocated for over $50,000,000 in line-item funding for community violence prevention programs.

The budget included many appropriations successes for clients, including: New England Culinary Arts Training (NECAT), Massachusetts Lodging Association, Valley Eye Radio, Inc., The One Bead Project, Massachusetts Military Support Foundation, Inc., Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), Dismas House, the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities in Massachusetts (AICU Mass), the Zeiterion Theater and others. 

Update on the Massachusetts Economic Development Bill 

Christopher Niles, Vice President

The Massachusetts House and Senate each passed versions of a roughly $4 billion economic development bill prior to the traditional end of formal sessions on July 31st. These bills contained American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) dollars, state surplus revenue funds, bond obligations and tax policy changes that made targeted investments across the economy. The bills also included policy measures on a variety of issues in outside sections of the bill. It was anticipated that a conference committee report reconciling the two bills would have appeared before the July 31st deadline.

However, during conference committee deliberations lawmakers learned that the unusually large state tax receipts would trigger a previously obscure statute “62F,” which mandates the return of these surplus funds to taxpayers. As the economic development bill was funded, in part, by surplus revenue, the House and Senate continued the conference committee process past the July 31st deadline to further assess the impact of 62F. Recently, State Auditor Suzanne Bump certified the FY’22 revenue and that it would, indeed, trigger 62F. This procedural step enabled the Baker Administration to proceed with a refund program that is expected to disburse funds in the coming months to taxpayers based on a proportion of their state liability for FY’21.

Now that the 62F matter is largely settled, questions remain about how the Legislature will approach the economic development bills and the hundreds of items it contained. The economic development bills remain in conference committee and Governor Baker has also since filed a “closeout” supplemental budget to close the books on FY’22.

House and Senate leadership have several likely alternatives, including suspending their Joint Rules to return in a special session for roll call votes in order to pass a version of the economic development bill (projects reliant on bond funding require a roll call vote). The House and Senate could look to pass a scaled down version of the economic development bill in part, during an informal session (informal sessions are held on a regular basis but matters have to be approved with unanimous consent) or include certain items from the economic development bill in the closeout supplemental budget and leave the economic development bill in conference. The final resolution will have significant repercussions as we approach the next legislative session and a new Gubernatorial Administration. 

O'Neill and Associates and Seven Letter

Client Highlights

Temescal Wellness of Massachusetts

Congratulations to Temescal Wellness, a high-quality medical and recreational cannabis company, for their grand opening of its new 71,400 SF cannabis grow facility in North Adams, Massachusetts. The over $20 million facility will increase the company’s production and cultivation capacity, allowing it to expand its portfolio of product offerings for consumers throughout the region. This state-of-the-art project renovated the former Crane Paper building and will be staffed by roughly 80 employees when fully operational. Temescal was one of the original 10 adult use operators in the Commonwealth and controls three medical/adult use dispensaries as well as a production facility in Worcester. CEO Alex Hardy was joined by North Adams Mayor Jennifer Macksey and other community partners at their recent ribbon cutting. 

Figure 1: Sourced from News Story

FAN EXPO Boston 2022

FAN EXPO Boston, the three-day pop culture extravaganza held at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center (BCEC) August 12-14, 2022, exceeded expectations as fans returned in droves to see a stellar lineup of celebrity guests, voice actors, comic creators, cosplayers and more. Preliminary attendance numbers showed an increase in ticket sales over pre-pandemic shows, as FAN EXPO Boston went all-out to give fans a top-notch experience. Seven Letter was FAN EXPO Boston’s local public relations agency, led by Partner Ann Murphy and Senior Manager Christian Rodriguez and supported by Seven Letter’s Macsonny Onyechefule and Valentina Mendez, intern Ulrika Brameus, cosplayer Jen Devereaux and former colleague Lance Madden. The PR team was responsible for facilitating media interviews, overseeing press credentials, staffing the Press Desk and handling media events.

FAN EXPO Boston is already gearing up for a spectacular show next year to be held August 4 – 6, 2023 at the BCEC.

Highlights of FAN EXPO Boston 2022 include:

  • Ewan McGregor wowed an estimated audience of 2,000 during a special event, Ewan McGregor Live, on Sunday, Aug. 14 that focused on his role as General Obi-Wan Kenobi as General Obi-Wan Kenobi in the Star Wars prequel trilogy, and more recently the Star Wars spin-off series Obi-Wan Kenobi.

  • The Four Hobbits: The Unexpected Reunion of Lord of the Rings stars Billy Boyd (Pippin Took), Dominic Monaghan (Merry Brandybuck), Sean Astin (Samwise Gamgee) and Elijah Wood (Frodo Baggins) was a special event held on Saturday night that included a welcome from Harvard’s own Hasty Pudding Club.

  • David Tennant, Dr. Who  favorite, met with fans for photo ops and autographs, and was interviewed on the Main Stage about his extensive acting career.

  • Legendary comic creator Frank Miller (Daredevil, The Dark Knight Returns, Batman: Year One) met with fans all weekend and was the subject of a documentary film, American Genius, that was screened at the show.

  • FAN EXPO Night at Fenway Park Actor Billy Boyd threw out the first pitch at the Red Sox game on Aug. 11, surrounded by local cosplayers from FAN EXPO Boston.

  • FAN EXPO Film Lover Friday that featured a panel on how to break into the Mass. Film Industry and a special after-hours event with actor Greg Sestero and a screening of the cult classic film The Room, where he played the character Mark.