Baker-Polito Administration Files Economic Development Legislation Providing “Opportunities for All”
Community support, workforce development and emerging technology focus of $918 million investment
BOSTON – Governor Charlie Baker and Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito today filed legislation to advance job creation and economic growth by empowering communities and regions to reach their potential, expanding workforce development efforts to close the skills gap and connect residents with economic opportunities, and investing in emerging technologies to set the stage for future job growth across the Commonwealth.
“We are committed to creating a platform for growth and prosperity across the Commonwealth, and this legislation will make key investments in the economic potential of our communities and residents,” said Governor Baker. “Strong communities, a highly-trained workforce, and our commitment to welcoming emerging technologies will ensure Massachusetts’ continues to have a pro-growth business environment providing economic opportunities for all.”
The legislation, “An Act to Provide Opportunities for All,” reflects and begins to implement several aspects of the Baker-Polito Administration’s comprehensive economic development plan, including investments of up to $918 million in capital funding for local infrastructure, Brownfields site cleanup, Gateway Cities development, development site assembly and site readiness, smart growth housing, workforce development, emerging technologies, and community-based innovation.
“Community development and revitalization have been priorities of ours since day one, and this bill will provide new investments and tools to enable and leverage private development toward that goal,” said Lieutenant Governor Polito. “Opportunities to expand the successful MassWorks infrastructure program, spur industrial and commercial development outside Route 128 and reform housing production incentives will help build strong, vibrant communities and drive growth across the Commonwealth.”
The legislation also makes several reforms relative to smart growth housing, streamlines the state’s Economic Development Incentive Program, and refocuses the work of regional economic development nonprofits.
“Massachusetts’ greatest asset is its brainpower, and this legislation provides the state’s innovators with the tools they need to create the next generation of jobs in technology and in advanced manufacturing,” said Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Jay Ash. “By supporting public-private partnerships in applied research, and community-based innovation spaces, this economic development bill will deepen our innovation ecosystem, cement Massachusetts’ position as the nation’s most innovative state, and harness emerging technologies to create long-term job growth in every region of the Commonwealth.”
“One of the things we are focused on in the Baker administration is creating opportunities for all residents. With this economic development plan we will ensure more people get skills, education and training to fill the jobs employers have open now and in the future,” said Labor and Workforce Development Secretary Ronald L. Walker, II. “The $75 million in Workforce Skills Capital grants will enable career and technical training programs to give students the skills they need to compete for jobs in today’s high-tech environment.”
“This economic development plan will not only help replicate what works, but will also offer critical tools to allow municipalities, higher education institutions, and the private sector to leverage partnerships in more areas of the Commonwealth than ever before,” said Education Secretary Jim Peyser. “It will also significantly expand the administration’s commitment to growing a stronger pipeline of students who will be ready to meet current and future workforce needs, especially in emerging STEM fields.”
“Housing development is a fundamental aspect of economic development,” said Undersecretary for Housing and Community Development Chrystal Kornegay. “The bill we filed today creates new tools for building smart growth housing in a variety of communities, from Gateway Cities, to town centers and suburban communities. It creates new tools for engaging with communities, building local capacity, and creating incentives for communities to help move statewide housing production forward.”
An Act to Provide Opportunities for All is organized around four foundational themes: preparing communities for success, a new Massachusetts Innovation Initiative, workforce development, and economic competitiveness.
Preparing Communities for Success
- MassWorks ($500 million proposed capital authorization): Reauthorizes a capital grant program that provides municipalities and other public entities with public infrastructure grants to support economic development and job creation.
- Transformative Development Initiative ($50 million proposed capital authorization): Supports the revitalization of Gateway Cities, by enabling MassDevelopment to make long-term patient equity investments in key properties in Transformative Development Initiative districts, with the goal of accelerating the maturation of private real estate markets.
- Brownfields Redevelopment Fund ($75 million proposed capital authorization): Moves funding for the state’s Brownfields Redevelopment Fund to the capital program, providing a reliable long-term funding stream for a fund that is the Commonwealth’s primary tool for facilitating the redevelopment of contaminated properties.
- Smart Growth Housing Trust Fund ($25 million proposed capital authorization): Moves funding for the state’s Smart Growth Housing Trust Fund to the capital program, providing a reliable long-term funding stream for a fund that is the Commonwealth’s primary tool for facilitating smart growth housing development.
- Site Readiness Fund ($25 million proposed capital authorization): Advances regional job creation by creating a new fund for site assembly and pre-development activities that support regionally significant commercial or industrial development opportunities.
- Housing-Related Tax Increment Financing: Supports housing production in town centers by reforming a seldom-used local-only smart growth tax incentive program, removing onerous regulations, and allowing communities to set their own affordability requirements.
- Starter Home Zoning: Incentivizes the creation of smaller, denser, and more affordable single-family homes by creating a new starter home option under the Chapter 40R smart growth housing program.
- Housing Development Incentive Program (HDIP) Reform: Supports the development of market-rate housing in Gateway Cities by allowing credits to support new construction, and by raising the formula that sets housing development incentives.
- I-Cubed Reform: Reforms the I-Cubed infrastructure program by removing unnecessary program requirements, building flexibility into the program, and aligning program requirements with the demonstrated project pipeline.
- Parking Management Districts: Aligns local parking policies with broader economic development priorities by enabling municipalities to opt into creating demand-based parking fees, and allowing parking fees to support capital improvements in designated districts, like downtowns.
The Massachusetts Innovation Initiative
- Massachusetts Manufacturing Innovation Initiative (M2I2) ($118 million proposed capital authorization): Provides matching grants to establish public-private applied research institutes around emerging manufacturing technologies. The state’s capital funds will be matched with federal and private industry funds.
- Scientific and Technology Research and Development Matching Grant Fund ($25 million proposed capital authorization): Reauthorizes a capital grant program that funds nonprofit, university-led research collaboratives working to commercialize emerging technologies, thereby supporting the development of emerging industry clusters.
- Innovation Infrastructure Fund ($25 million proposed capital authorization): Creates a new fund for making capital grants that support community-based innovation efforts, including co-working spaces, venture centers, maker spaces and artist spaces.
- Digital Health Care Cluster Development: Broadens the statutory charge of the Massachusetts eHealth Institute (MeHI) to include digital health cluster development.
- Workforce Skills Capital Grants ($75 million proposed capital authorization): Establishes a new grant program for workforce development training equipment, to strengthen workforce skills, and create strong employment pipelines.
- Economic Development Incentive Program (EDIP) Reforms: Builds accountability in the state’s primary job-creation incentive program by strengthening the link between the issuance of tax credits, and job creation that would not otherwise occur; adds flexibility to the incentive program by eliminating obsolete formula-driven incentive categories, and by creating a new Extraordinary Development Opportunity designation.
- Regional Economic Development Organization (REDO) Modifications: Shifts the focus of nonprofit regional economic development nonprofits toward systems-based efforts to stimulate economic growth, including strengthening the regional skills pipeline, and executing regional cluster development strategies.
- Liquor Law Reforms: Supports consumer choice and access to markets by allowing retailers who sell alcohol to also serve alcohol in in-house restaurants; by allowing local farmer-brewers and farmer-distillers to sell their products at farmers markets; by reducing barriers to retail sales at local breweries; and by creating a transparent licensing process for tenant-brewers.
- Blue Laws Clarification: Clarifies existing exemptions to Sunday operations blue laws for fulfillment centers operated by e-retailers.
- Export Loan Guarantees: Doubles the limit on loan guarantees from the Massachusetts Export Development Fund, to $1,000,000.