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Former CEO dies

DETROIT - Former General Motors Co. CEO Robert Stempel, a graduate of Worcester Polytechnic Institute who led the development of the catalytic converter but was ousted in a boardroom coup, died Saturday in Florida. He was 77.

During his three decades at the company Stempel helped to develop many of the fuel-efficient and pollution-control technologies still in use today, including front-wheel-drive cars, the catalytic converter, and even battery-powered cars. Stempel was chairman and CEO from 1990 to1992.

"He is the best engineer I've ever worked with in the world," said Stan Ovshinsky, who ran Energy Conversion Devices, a car battery development company where Stempel worked after leaving GM.

But Stempel's accomplishments as an engineer were overshadowed by his short tenure at the top of the company.

He and his management team were forced out after GM'S North American operations lost billions of dollars. While he wasn't blamed for all the losses, Stempel and his team were seen as moving too slowly to fix the company's problems.

- The Associated Press

$5M deposited

BOSTON - The state treasurer's office has deposited $5 million in Bay State Savings Bank in Worcester under a program aimed at placing the state's cash reserves into Massachusetts community banks that agree to expand loans to small businesses.

The Small Business Banking Partnership, which was launched last week, has deposited money in 11 institutions, according to the office of Treasurer Steven Grossman. Mr. Grossman is seeking to move up to $100 million in deposits from national or international institutions to Massachusetts banks to support small business lending.

The state reported that Commerce Bank of Worcester, Fidelity Bank of Leominster and Southbridge Savings Bank of Southbridge are seeking to participate in the program, as well.

- Lisa Eckelbecker

Colitis treatment

Abbott Laboratories said a study showed its rheumatoid arthritis drug Humira proved more effective at treating ulcerative colitis than an inactive substance.

Abbott, based in Abbott Park, Ill., released the results of a 494-patient study during a medical conference in Chicago. Humira was developed in Worcester by Abbott's biotechnology operation, Abbott Bioresearch Center.

Ulcerative colitis is an autoimmune disease that produces inflammation and ulcers in the colon or large intestine. Abbott said 248 patients in its study were treated with Humira. Other patients received a placebo. After one year, 17.3 percent of patients taking Humira were in remission, compared to 8.5 percent of patients who received the inactive placebo.

Humira is Abbott's biggest-selling product, with $6.5 billion in sales worldwide in 2010. First approved to treat rheumatoid arthritis, the drug is now approved for six conditions. Abbott is seeking approval from U.S. and European regulators to sell it for moderate to severe ulcerative colitis.

- Lisa Eckelbecker

Money for study

FITCHBURG - Fitchburg Municipal Airport will receive $316,000 from the U.S. Department of Transportation to conduct environmental studies necessary to move forward with the $15.1 million project to re-align the main runway.

The project will make the airport safer, said Kit D. Walker, airport commissioner.

"Fitchburg airport is in need of a new runway and that was the whole reason we even started looking at lengthening the existing runway and changing its direction," he said yesterday.

The Federal Aviation Administration will provide 90 percent of grant funding for the project; the other 10 percent must be split equally between the state and city.

- Paula J. Owen

Safety director

FITCHBURG - TerraTherm Inc., a hazardous waste remediation company, announced that Linda F. Martin has joined the company as corporate safety and compliance director.

Ms. Martin has more than 20 years of experience at leading companies in the industry, including Metcalf & Eddy, Groundwater Technologies Inc. and Strata Management & Consulting Inc., which she founded and operated for seven years.

- Martin Luttrell

New customer

WESTMINSTER - TechPrecision Corp., through its wholly owned subsidiary Ranor Inc., a manufacturer of precision, large-scale fabricated and machined metal components, yesterday announced that it has received an order with a value of approximately $400,000 from a new customer for equipment used in the production of thin-film copper indium gallium diselenide photovoltaic (solar) panels.

This represents the fourth new strategic Tier-1 customer signed by TechPrecision since the beginning of the company's 2011 fiscal year. The initial order is expected to be shipped by the third quarter of fiscal 2012.

- Martin Luttrell


CUTLINE: Mr. Stempel
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Title Annotation:MONEY
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:May 11, 2011
Previous Article:FROM THE REGION.

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