As a mechanic and pilot, with one airplane and six employees, flying one route from Cape Cod to Logan and back again, Dan Wolf started Cape Air almost 25 years ago.
Today, as one of the largest independent regional airlines in the country, still headquartered in Massachusetts, Cape Air employs more than 1000 people, flies more than 70 aircraft, serves communities across New England as well as Florida, the Caribbean, upstate New York, the mid-West, and as far away as Guam.
Cape Air’s revenues this year will pass $100 million; since 1996, employees have shared ownership and shared in the success they have helped build.
No one has a better bootstrapping record building a company from scratch, creating good jobs, making payroll, weathering tough times while continuing to grow, forging strong partnerships in the public and private sectors, all while maintaining a company ethic that celebrates collaboration in the workplace and commitment to communities served. Dan’s successes at Cape Air have earned him the New England Entrepreneur of the Year Award from Ernst and Young, the Airline Executive of the Year award from the Regional Airline Association, and many others awards and recognition.
Strong management skills, hands-on business experience, a proven capacity to create middle-class jobs: qualities that would serve the Commonwealth well.
As former chairman of the board of directors of one of the larger chambers of commerce in Massachusetts, Dan has worked with small business owners and entrepreneurs of every stripe. More than 12 years of service on regional bank boards has given him a clear understanding of the essential relationship between financial institutions and economic growth. As a Senator who in his first term co-chaired the Committee on Labor and Workforce Development, he has promoted workforce training for skilled jobs, supporting efforts to link all of our resources, including vocational schools and community colleges, to expand job programs.
Our entrepreneurial, private sector is the engine, the locomotive that powers our economy. Free enterprise drives a train that excels in delivering innovation, efficiency, and profit. Our system remains the envy of the world.
Government’s role is to lay the tracks, both literally by creating the infrastructure that allows business to prosper, and figuratively by defining the direction in which our economy should move.
That means policies to encourage businesses that invest and re-invest in our communities rather than corporations that extract and export wealth.
That means focusing on economic growth that will provide jobs and a real future in education, infrastructure, transportation, renewable energy and green renovations, health care, high-tech and bio-tech.
That means making good on the promise that every one of our citizens should be able to reach the first rung of the economic ladder, in hopes that all can climb as high as possible.
It also means understanding why the much-used term “leveling the playingfield” is an important concept. The right role for regulation and tax policy is to ensure that locally owned and engaged businesses are not put at a disadvantage by the clout and influence of those large corporations that are responsible to shareholders at the expense of our communities, that focus on next quarter’s profits rather than our long-term future.
So government should get out of the way when interference would hinder start-ups, partner with and support innovators and local businesses, while championing and protecting the public interest.
A healthy economy must emerge from a healthy middle class, a broad and strong community that has the income to buy the goods and services it creates and the capacity to invest in a secure future. Large-scale corporations have a necessary and important role to play in our success, but a balance must be struck between prosperity, shareholder profit, and quality of life. Decades ago, Henry Ford understood this well: Those who were building his company’s cars must be paid well enough to afford those cars, he argued, otherwise both his company and our economic system would falter.
So every public policy can and should be judged with a central question in mind: Will it help us develop our economy from the middle out?