James F. Carlin has been an entrepreneur for the last 27 years. Taking risks in business ventures ranging from insurance to publishing, Mr. Carlin says he is "the only person in the United States who has founded or co-founded three companies that have made the Inc. magazine list of the fastest-growing companies."

But Mr. Carlin, who last September was appointed by Gov. William F. Weld of Massachusetts to run the city of Chelsea, is no stranger to the public sector.

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