Boosting the Bay State: A 10-Year Plan for Massachusetts’s Future

Massachusetts’s license plates proudly identify the state as “the Spirit of America.” And it’s true that, in many ways, Massachusetts is America’s birthplace — though the other members of the “original 13 colony club” would likely beg to differ.

Many American institutions and ideals that we now take for granted either began in or took shape in Massachusetts. No one can take that heritage away. But today, Massachusetts finds itself at a crossroads of sorts. This most storied of states, where Mayflower-descended blue bloods mingle with 8th-generation Irish and 1st-generation Portuguese, is charged with charting a course for the future — even as it honors its 400-year heritage.

Recently, Massachusetts lawyer and philanthropist Chip Flowers laid out a compelling vision for the state’s next 10 years. Here’s a look at the highlights — and thoughts on how the state’s political, cultural and business leaders can realize them.

A Bipartisan Standing Committee

Flowers proposed the establishment of a “bipartisan standing commission to propose substantive reforms to our existing corporate, judiciary, and tax laws to allow the Commonwealth to become attractive to companies.”

Flowers’ proposed commission wouldn’t have the power to make new laws or change existing codes. Rather than ruling by fiat, it would be charged with studying the most pressing economic and political issues of our day, devising realistic improvements to existing policies or regulations, and inviting public debate on each matter.

Ideally, the standing commission would take a hard look at what’s working in other states, particularly those renowned for their business-friendliness. (Delaware, Texas and nearby New Hampshire come to mind.) It would also think outside the box, drawing in ideas from other countries or using cutting-edge economic, political and sociological research to outline policies suited for the 21st-century economy.

Tax Holidays for New Businesses

Flowers proposes tax-free “incubation periods” for businesses that pledge to relocate to Massachusetts from out of state. Depending on the feasibility of a revenue-neutral model, the concept could eventually be extended to startups and early-stage companies that begin life in Massachusetts. It’s hard to imagine a better way to leverage the ingenuity and entrepreneurial energies of the state’s storied research universities and tech firms.

More Lenient Incorporation Laws

In his op-ed, Flowers asks why Massachusetts isn’t the “global venue of choice for businesses seeking to incorporate.” That’s a good question. Right now, Massachusetts isn’t even on the radar for newly incorporated businesses; Delaware, and to a lesser extent New York and California, hog the spotlight. Although not every business that incorporates in Massachusetts is likely to have a major employment base in-state, the annual fees and taxes associated with incorporation would be a welcome addition to the state’s coffers.

Broad-Based Civic Education

One concept that didn’t get much play in Flowers’ op-ed, but which is nevertheless a worthy addition to Massachusetts’s future-competitiveness arsenal: broad-based civic education. Kids who learn about civics, government and the rule of law early in life tend to be more curious, active participants in the messy experiment we call representative democracy. Flowers has offered some thoughts on this theme before.

Color Inside the Lines

Chip Flowers’ vision for Massachusetts’s next 10 years is just that: a vision. It’ll require strong leadership and thoughtful problem-solving to become reality. And it’s not at all controversial to say that Flowers’ vision is simply a start. Massachusetts (one hopes) will be even stronger in the mid-2020s than it is today — and more willing to set ambitious goals for the next decade.

What’s your vision for Massachusetts’s next decade?

Chip Flowers Earns Don K. Price Award From Harvard University

Chip Flowers strives for excellence in everything he sets out to do. From earning his law degree and MBA from Georgetown University to launching a vibrant and growing mergers and acquisitions and corporate law firm, he has distinguished himself as an effective leader in business and in public affairs. Prior to launching his own firm, Chip Flowers received a  Masters in Public Administration from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

Chip Flowers Earns Prestigious Award From Harvard

Upon graduation from the Kennedy School of Government, Chip Flowers was awarded the highest honor bestowed upon graduates from the program, the Don K. Price Award. This award was named after a former Harvard professor and dean of the John F. Kennedy School of Government. It is awarded to the individual that excels both academically and in public service. This award was a confirmation of what many already knew about Chip Flowers – he has a strong commitment to serve for the greater good of the public.

Bringing The Same Drive And Passion To Delaware

The recognition earned by Chip Flowers at Harvard University highlights the drive and passion that motivates him to succeed. He desires to use his skills to help move the state of Delaware in a positive direction by serving as Delaware’s next state treasurer.

A Look Back at the First Chapter of Chip Flowers’ Legal Career

Before Chip Flowers had an inkling that he’d one day be Delaware State Treasurer, he was implementing an ambitious road map to legal success. Though there have been turnoffs and pit stops along the way, he’s by and large stuck to the outlines of his original plan. And that’s made for a distinguished legal career marked by big triumphs and little wins. Here’s a look at where Flowers has been, where he’s going and what’s he’s been doing along the way.

A great educational foundation

Flowers certainly got his career off on the right foot: After graduating from an American high school in northeastern Italy, he matriculated at the University of Pennsylvania, an Ivy League school known for minting many a successful lawyer. But he hedged his bets a bit at UPenn, earning an economics degree that would keep his options open in the future.

The next phase of his education kept this theme alive: Flowers enrolled at Georgetown University, simultaneously earning an MBA and JD. This dual grad degree set him up nicely for a career in mergers and acquisitions — and a prestigious first job at Skadden Arps’ Wilmington, Delaware office, where he worked long (emphasis on long) hours in the firm’s M&A working group.

Cutting his chops at Skadden Arps

Flowers’s tenure at Skadden Arps boosted his reputation an incisive legal thinker and meticulous worker. Though he decided against taking the traditional “big-firm career track,” he’ll always be grateful for the experiential foundation provided by his tenure there. His former supervisors and colleagues have nothing but good things to say about him — aside, perhaps, from some mild regrets that he didn’t stick around longer.

Founding the Flowers Counsel Group

After Skadden, Chip Flowers took some time off from the law to enroll at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. He didn’t stay away for long, though: Within months of graduating, he’d founded the Flowers Counsel Group, a Wilmington-based practice that quickly gained a reputation among corporate and institutional clients. Flowers hired a trusted team of associates to help with the firm’s growing workload, leveraging their talent to attract high-profile names like Barclays, DuPont and Harvard University. By the time he was elected Delaware State Treasurer, the Chip Flowers law firm was one of the Northeast’s largest minority-owned practices.

Onward and upward

Chip Flowers hasn’t reached his legal road map’s final destination — not by a long shot. He’s also made it clear that he’s not yet done with politics. It’s an open question as to where Flowers’s talent and ambition will take him next, one thing is clear: He’ll be living out the next chapter of his professional life in his adopted hometown of Boston, where new opportunities surely await. Stay tuned!

5 Achievements That Chip Flowers Can Be Proud of

Thanks to a successful tenure as state treasurer there, Chip Flowers is a household name in Delaware. He’s also known as the principal of one of the Northeast’s largest minority-owned law firms, the Flowers Counsel Group. But beyond these headline achievements, Flowers has amassed a remarkable track record over the course of a relatively brief career. Here’s a look at five specific achievements that have raised Chip Flowers’s profile, putting him on the national political and legal map.

1. Growing Delaware’s state investment portfolio by $55 million

This is possibly the highest-profile achievement to come out of Flowers’s tenure as treasurer. It’s worth remembering the dire economic conditions under which Flowers took office: The state of Delaware was struggling mightily during the worst recession since the Great Depression, doing all it could to keep its metaphorical head above water. Undaunted, Flowers implemented sorely needed reforms that boosted the performance of the state’s investments while protecting its taxpayers from preventable losses. The result: Investment gains in 31 out of the 38 months that Flowers held office.

2. Maintaining a stellar AAA bond rating

During Flowers’s tenure, Delaware maintained its stellar AAA bond rating, a key indicator of faith in its financial fundamentals. Although Delaware doesn’t suffer from some of the structural issues that plague other state treasuries, it’s still worth noting that it’s one of the few states whose position may actually have improved during the 2010s. Many large states, including Illinois, face potentially catastrophic liabilities that could threaten their solvency in the years to come. Thanks to Treasurer Flowers, Delaware is out of the woods.

3. Shielding Delaware from a potential nine-figure loss

Although the details are a bit technical, Chip Flowers is directly responsible for shielding the state from a loss that could have reached into the hundreds of millions. The issue stemmed from a failing financial institution that held uncollateralized state funds; Flowers proposed a workaround that would require the institution to place the funds in federally insured accounts. He subsequently proposed major financial reforms that would prevent such a problem from recurring — a major win for Delaware taxpayers.

4. Creating a powerful set of new financial tools for Delaware

One of the signature achievements of Chip Flowers’s term as state treasurer was the implementation of a new set of public-facing financial tools and indices for the people and businesses of Delaware. These include:

  • The Prosperity Portal, a collection of financial education resources for people of all ages
  • The Delaware Economic Index, a “one-stop shop” for information about economic conditions and opportunities in Delaware
  • The Delaware Financial Early Warning System, a sophisticated tool that uses data and analytics to forecast potential downturns before they become obvious
  • Various tax credits and incentives to encourage employers, particularly those interested in hiring high-skill workers, to locate in Delaware

5. Boosting childhood financial education in Delaware

Chip Flowers, in partnership with Visa and the NFL, invested a great deal of political capital in Financial Football, a childhood finance education program that’s now used by millions of kids and thousands of schools around the country. Financial Football has already produced measurable improvements in “financial IQ” among middle- and high-school students.

Chip Flowers Puts an Impressive Pedigree to Work for His Clients

Chip Flowers is perhaps best known as the former state treasurer of Delaware. But it’s important to remember that his legal career has already spanned more than 15 years — far longer than his four-year stint in elected office. The defining feature of this career is Chip Flowers’ law firm, the Flowers Counsel Group. This is how Chip Flowers became one of the most highly regarded corporate lawyers in the Northeast Corridor.

A distinguished early career

In 1996, Flowers enrolled at the Georgetown University Law Center. That’s an impressive resume item: Georgetown’s law school is among a literal handful of schools to consistently rank in U.S. News’ top 15 law schools list, perhaps the most influential ranking scheme in the country.

Not content to let his school’s prestige speak for itself, Flowers sought and secured several coveted internships and work opportunities during his time at Georgetown, including stints at the Congressional Joint Economic Committee and the White House Office of Political Affairs. It’s worth noting that Flowers served in the latter appointment during the second Clinton term, when political scandal drove inside-the-Beltway partisan rancor to then-unprecedented heights. That experience shaped his subsequent political outlook, legal philosophy and career trajectory in ways too numerous to name.

After graduating from Georgetown, Flowers beat out numerous other candidates for a competitive position at Skadden Arps’ Wilmington, Delaware office, a critical node in the multinational firm’s corporate practice. At Skadden, Flowers worked four long years — it’s true what they say about junior associates’ hours, especially at elite firms — in the mergers and acquisition practice group, accumulating valuable experience that he’d later use at his own practice.

A Chip Flowers law firm takes shape

In 2004, Flowers took a brief hiatus from the legal world to earn a Master of Public Policy from Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. By mid-2006, he was back at it, founding the Flowers Counsel Group mere months after leaving Boston.

The Flowers Counsel Group gave Chip Flowers new visibility in the Northeast Corridor’s cutthroat legal sector. As President and Managing Partner, Flowers engaged in tireless outreach to well-known companies, nonprofits and academic institutions, including Fortune 500 and Global 500 names like DuPont, AstraZeneca and Barclays. In a personal “win,” Flowers was also able to secure representation for Harvard, one of his alma maters. Today, thanks to Flowers’ vision and charisma, not to mention the firm’s hardworking associates and support staff, the Flowers Counsel Group is one of the Northeast’s largest minority-owned law firms.

New setting, same passion

Chip Flowers served as Delaware State Treasurer from 2011 to 2015, leaving his office — and the state’s finances as a whole — in better shape than he found them. He immediately relocated to the Boston area, bringing his practice and clients with him.

No one knows what the future holds, but if the history of the Flowers Counsel Group is any indication, Flowers and his team can look forward to even bigger and better things.

Chip Flowers Takes Political and Financial Transparency to New Levels

In the Mid-Atlantic, at least, most people know Chip Flowers as a successful Delaware State Treasurer. If they’re really into the political inside game, they might also know Mr. Flowers as the former co-chair of the National Democratic State Treasurers Association.

But fewer folks know what brought Flowers to his high-visibility state office at such a young age. Even fewer — if any — know what might be in store for the future. Here’s a look at the story behind the first chapters of Chip Flowers’ political career.

Building a foundation for the future

When does a political career really begin? For some, it’s when a young child hears an inspiring speech for the first time and thinks, “I want to inspire people like that one day.” For others, it’s the day an idealistic student crosses paths with the professor or local officeholder who’s destined to be the perfect role model.

For Chip Flowers, it was the long days and (sometimes) nights spent as an intern with the Congressional Joint Economic Committee and the White House Office of Political Affairs. While these formative experiences weren’t always glamorous, they were enough to convince Flowers of the fundamental nobility of politics — that, in the end, public service is about improving lives and creating new opportunities. Every workday in Congress and at the White House brought new surprises — and sublime inspiration.

Against the odds…

During the 2000s, Chip Flowers put his political career on the back burner as he worked to build a prosperous legal practice. But by the end of the decade, he could no longer resist the call to service. In 2010, after a closely fought, self-financed campaign that few political handicappers gave him a chance at winning, he was elected Delaware State Treasurer with nearly 54 percent of the popular vote.

In January 2011, Flowers was officially sworn in as Delaware’s first elected African-American holder of statewide office. And shortly thereafter, he took on the role of co-chair of the National Democratic State Treasurers Association, a high-profile role that’s often reserved for multi-term treasurers. Not a bad achievement for someone still in his 30s.

A track record that speaks for itself

Chip Flowers’ tenure as state treasurer was marked by some impressive wins. Notably, he grew the state’s investment portfolio by more than $50 million despite serious economic headwinds. He also achieved a number of structural changes that, while harder to distill into easy sound bites, are no less important to recall. These include:

  • Donating his first-year salary ($100,000) to fund two fellowships orchestrated by a partnership between the United Way of Delaware and the state treasury
  • Instituting a competitive contracting process for state investment managers, which ultimately boosted returns on Delaware’s investment portfolio
  • Changing state rules to require any bank that holds Delaware government funds to post collateral in the amount of the funds, a move that brought Delaware in line with most other states and protected hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer funds

Where does Chip Flowers’ political career go from here?

When Chip Flowers left office, in early 2015, he and his wife relocated to the great state of Massachusetts, where he looks forward to growing his already successful law practice. But he’s not done with politics yet. As he said in his farewell address, “My political career isn’t ending…it’s truly just beginning.” The only question left to be answered is: In what capacity will Flowers next hear the call to serve?

Chip Flowers: A Life of Triumph and Trailblazing

Chipman “Chip” Flowers Jr. hasn’t gotten this far by luck or accident. He’s been made to earn everything he’s achieved, and it hasn’t always been pretty. But Flowers has come a long way during his still-in-progress career. Let’s take a look at where he’s been — and where he’s going.

A world of experience

The Chip Flowers story begins in Hawaii — not a bad place to come into the world, one thinks. Chip isn’t “from” Hawaii; his father, a military officer, and mother, a Department of Defense educator, happened to be stationed there when he arrived. But Chip isn’t likely to forget those early memories of swaying palm trees, crashing waves and laid-back island life.

Subsequent moves took Chip Flowers and his family to Texas, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Italy. Flowers graduated from an American high school in Vicenza, Italy, a beautiful city not far from Venice. Blessed with a truly global education, he returned to the United States for college, enrolling in the economics program at the University of Pennsylvania in 1993.

Earning it, one degree at a time

Flowers graduated from UPenn in 1996, but his education wasn’t done — not by a long shot. He went straight on to Georgetown University, picking up a dual law degree and MBA during his four-year stint there. He’d later credit his time at Georgetown with inspiring the political passion that would define the next phase of his life. It didn’t hurt that he held several prestigious internships in the D.C. area, most notably at the Congressional Joint Economic Committee and the White House Office of Political Affairs.

A trailblazer who’s true to his roots

Chipman Flowers’s first job out of Georgetown had little to do with politics: Based at the Wilmington, Delaware office of Skadden Arps, he worked long hours as part of the prestigious firm’s mergers and acquisitions working group. While at Skadden, he happily took on the role of chairman of the Delaware Bar’s Multicultural Judges and Lawyers Section.

After leaving Skadden in 2004, Flowers rediscovered his passion for politics at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. He graduated in 2006, his education finally — at least for the moment — complete. Flowers then dove headlong into the next phase of his legal career, founding the Flowers Counsel Group and taking on such diverse, well-known clients as Barclays, Bank of America and DuPont.

Chip Flowers’s biggest achievement lay ahead. In 2010, he won the Delaware State Treasurer election, becoming the state’s first African-American elected to statewide office. During his term, he implemented a farsighted reform plan that experts believe will make the state significantly more resilient during future economic downturns. Flowers also earned more than $55 million for the state’s investment portfolio — an impressive performance in light of the period’s economic turmoil.

In 2015, after four years of selfless service, Flowers relocated to Boston with his wife, Megan. He’s now overseeing day-to-day operations at the Flowers Counsel Group, one of Massachusetts’s largest minority-owned law firms, and working tirelessly to grow the business further.

What’s next for Chip Flowers?

Barely over the hill, Chipman Flowers has already accomplished more in his short career than most people accomplish in their entire lives. But he’s not one to rest on his laurels. Now that he and his wife are ensconced in their adopted hometown of Boston, Flowers is ready for the next challenge — be it legal, political or something else entirely.