WORCESTER — David P. Forsberg will step down as president of the Worcester Business Development Corp., and Craig L. Blais, the WBDC’s longtime executive vice president, will take over the reins of the nonprofit organization beginning Monday.
The change in leadership was not unexpected and had been rumored for months.
Mr. Forsberg will stay on as senior adviser.
“This is the time for me to go,” said Mr. Forsberg. “Craig is more than ready to take over.”
J. Robert Seder, chairman of the WBDC’s board, said Mr. Forsberg and Mr. Blais have, over the years, provided strong leadership, thus making the change at the helm easy.
“Craig has done an incredible job and is deserving of this position,” he said.
Mr. Blais, who has worked with Mr. Forsberg in other capacities at other organizations over the years, has served as the WBDC’s executive vice president for 13 years.
“The WBDC has a great tradition of taking on and completing complicated projects,” said Mr. Blais. “I understand our mission of job creation and tax base expansion and especially the sharing in the risk of difficult projects.”
He said he asked Mr. Forsberg to stay on, particularly to shape and build the WBDC’s new subsidiary, New Garden Park Inc. That corporation was acquired in 2010 following the sale of the WBDC’s interest in Gateway Park to Worcester Polytechnic Institute.
“David is not going anywhere,” said Mr. Blais. “He still has much to offer.”
Mr. Forsberg took over the WBDC in 1999, after serving a stint as chief development officer at the Massachusetts Port Authority. During Mr. Forsberg’s stewardship, the nonprofit has partnered with other organizations on several completed or ongoing initiatives in the Worcester area. While at Massport, he was charged with developing harbor properties in Boston that were owned by the state agency. Previously, he served for five years as chief development officer for the city of Worcester.
During his tenure as Worcester’s economic czar, the new St. Vincent Hospital was being built downtown, the long-awaited Union Station makeover was under way, the convention center opened, and the Massachusetts Turnpike connector became a reality.
A native of Worcester who grew up in Quinsigamond Village, Mr. Forsberg graduated from Worcester Academy and Bowdoin College in Maine. He holds a master’s degree in urban affairs from Boston University. After serving in the U.S. Army, he was elected to two terms on the City Council. When he left the council in 1980, Mr. Forsberg held a number of jobs including working as a talk show host on WTAG radio.
He also was vice president of Malmstead Insurance Agency and administrator of Lutheran Child and Family Services of Massachusetts Inc. Mr. Forsberg also taught at Assumption College and served as a trustee at Worcester Academy and the Worcester vocational school system.
Before coming to the WBDC, Mr. Blais served as Worcester’s acting chief development officer, director of economic development, and deputy development officer. He was an Auburn selectman from 1987 to 1996.
In 2010, Gov. Deval Patrick appointed him a trustee at Worcester State University. Mr. Blais holds a master’s degree in public administration from Framingham State College and lives in Sutton with his wife, Tracy, and their two children, Colin and Samantha.