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Bay State Means Business

This week's purchase of a division of Worcester-based Allmerica financial by New York-based Goldman Sachs is just the latest in a string of mergers and acquisitions of Massachusetts companies.

Before that, it was Canton-based Reebok, and of course, Filenes, Gillette, Fleet Bank, and John Hancock Insurance.

Many of the companies that once defined the Boston business community are now gone or owned by larger companies based outside Massachusetts. So, what's left, and what does the loss of these companies mean?

George Donnelly, editor of the Boston Business journal, says that if people fear we'll be consolidated into oblivion, we're misunderstanding the nature of the local economy.

"These mergers are scary and they can really hit home... The popular myth seems to be that we live and die with our large companies, but, the fact is, that 97 percent of the companies in Massachusetts have 500 employees or fewer, and there are only about 200 companies in Massachusetts with more than 1,000 employees. So, beneath the surface of this disturbing news, there's a tremendous amount of economic activity that we should really feel good about," said Donnelly.

But Donnelly does admit that everyone in today's global economy is taking their hits.

"Really, the secret here, and I think the secret to our future as an economy, is our capacity to create smaller, emerging companies that often or at least sometimes grow into big ones," he said.

WBUR's Delores Handy-Brown has more with Donnelly.

This program aired on August 26, 2005. The audio for this program is not available.

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