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Updated: March 4, 2024 2024 Business Leaders of the Year

WBJ names the 2024 Business Leaders of the Year

A collage of five business people dressed in business attire. Photos | Matt Wright The 2024 Business Leaders of the Year (clockwise from upper left): Ulysses Youngblood, Connie Askin, Chris Coghlin, David Connell, and Kevin Holmes

Being a true business leader is much more than just understanding profits and losses, dealing with customers, creating a vibrant employee culture, or even growing your company.

To be a true force in the Central Massachusetts economy, you need to understand the community your business operates in and develop ways to improve that community to the mutual benefit of its population and your bottom line. Each of the 2024 WBJ Business Leaders of the Year embody this quality and have become essential to the region’s successful function.

Ulysses Youngblood, for example, sees the newly legal cannabis industry as a way to inject more economic activity into underrepresented communities. Beyond just operating his Worcester dispensary, he lobbies for state-level change to lower the barrier to entry for struggling marijuana entrepreneurs and serves as an industry ambassador throughout the Northeast. Chris Coghlin has exponentially grown his fourth-generation family business in Westborough, but he frames all that work against his leadership of multiple nonprofits in MetroWest, including one he co-founded to provide direct money to families in need. Kevin Holmes founded his Advantage Truck Group with his heart and life savings, and he created one of the largest truck dealerships in the country by focusing on employee happiness and giving back to the community.

Though their focus is on service to the community, the two Nonprofit Leaders of the Year have accomplished great things by embracing business principles. David Connell and Connie Askin have helped the YMCA of Central Massachusetts and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Mass and MetroWest remain steady during turbulent times by relying on partnerships with outside organizations, among other efforts.

WBJ will celebrate these five Business Leaders of the Year and induct the WBJ Hall of Fame, Class of 2024 in a special evening ceremony March 26 at the AC Hotel by Marriott Worcester. If you’d like a masterclass in becoming a true business and community leader, I invite you to come learn from the best.

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