UK-MA Business Roundtable
State House, Boston
Wednesday, June 1, 2011
Thank you, Consul General Budden, for your exceptional partnership.
And thank you for working with us to organize today's forum. We have an opportunity today both to build on the successes of the recent trade mission and advance exactly the kind of partnership that brought the extraordinary members of our delegation together in the first place. Collaborating across the private and academic sectors, as well as with government, is how we will effectively compete in the global economy. And it's how we will mutually benefit from our leadership in the innovation economy.
Let me offer a few remarks about what we are doing to make Massachusetts an attractive place for investment, and what our overall strategy for driving growth is today.
Since the beginning of the first term we put in place a plan to grow jobs and expand opportunity. And we stuck with that plan, even through the worst of the global recession.
And today we are creating jobs faster than most other states -- 19,500 in April alone. Our unemployment rate is well below the national average, our economy is expanding at twice the national growth rate, and CNBC has moved our state up to the fifth best place in America to do business. The time it takes to get state approvals and permits has been cut from an average of 2 years to about 3 months. Our tax rates are competitive. And our bond rating is not only strong, but is the only state's to have improved since 2007.
The progress we are making is not happening by accident. It's because we are making choices about winning the future, and stuck to our strategy. So I want you to understand our strategy. And then I want to invite you to participate in it.
We have pursued a three-pronged strategy to lift up our state and compete in the global economy. It's about education, innovation, and infrastructure.
First is education. I've spent most of my professional life in the private sector and done business all over the world. And I can tell you, if you don't know already, that education is our international calling card. We have an unusually high concentration of great public and private universities - nearly 300 in New England. That environment has spawned many of the world's best research institutions that many of you represent, teaching hospitals and the like. Our workforce is well known for its high level of education.
And so, we've supported education by investing in our public schools at the highest levels in the history of our state, even when the bottom was falling out of the rest of the budget. And we've added reforms that raise teacher accountability and encourage more innovation in the classroom to reach the kids stuck in the achievement gap.
And as I make this point I want to acknowledge the members of the Legislature who are here today, the members of the Legislature worked right alongside with so many teachers unions an businesses groups, putting in place these reforms in education to really take us to the next level. Very, very exciting.
These investments in money and time work: our students rank first in America in student achievement, and have for each year in the last five. We rank in the top five internationally in math and science. And we were the top scorer in the national Race to the Top competition.
Education, I believe, is the single best long-term investment government can make. And we are making those investments here. It is and will remain central to our strategy.
Next in this strategy is innovation. Our concentration of brainpower, research institutions and venture capital, our well-educated work force, our entrepreneurial traditions make us uniquely suited to those industries that rely on those "natural resources": biotech and the life sciences, clean energy and IT.
This is not, as some have said, about picking winners and losers. It's about playing to our strengths - the same way that my counterparts in Texas or West Virginia or Iowa cultivate their oil or coal or corn industries. Our natural strength, our edge, is a concentration of brainpower.
We have invested in the innovators here right now and laid the groundwork for those who want to join us. Intellectual power - brain power - is the edge. It's what makes us fundamentally distinct from 49 other states in this country. And, just like in the UK, it means we have a particular attraction, a sweet spot, for industries that depend on the presence of a highly skilled workforce.
That's what the Life Sciences Initiative is about, a $1 billion, ten-year commitment, to strengthen our position as an international hub for biotech. We've invested about $200 million of public resources so far, which has generated almost a billion dollars in new private investment and thousands of jobs.
Clean energy is an area where good energy policy is also good jobs policy. In the solar sector, for example, we've had a 20-fold increase in solar generation and thousands of new jobs. We will be host to the first offshore wind farm in America, with attendant industries and first-mover advantages. Employment in clean energy has grown 60 percent in the last few years, during the worst economy in living memory. I am confident that if we get this right, the whole world will be our customer.
IT is a growth area, too, but it's not limited to data management. It's telecommunications, developing new software for mobile devices like iPhones and iPads -- the objects you keep looking down in your laps at while I'm speaking. It's robotics, like the devices that explore the oceans' depths or vacuum your home while you sleep. And video game development, for which we have become one of the largest centers for development in the country - products like Guitar Hero, do you know that game Guitar Hero? That's a Massachusetts product.
And because we are making more of the things we invent, precision manufacturing is also making a comeback, which is really exciting. Everything from biopharmaceuticals and medical devices to solar panels and wind blades, new kinds of insulation and smart meters.
So education and innovation. And then infrastructure. Now this is, I describe it as the unglamorous work of government, but it enables all the rest. We have invested record amounts in building a 21st century infrastructure to move goods, products, ideas and investment to every corner of our state, and from every corner of our state to every corner of the world. Road, rail, bridge projects. Broadband expansion. Affordable and public housing. Fixing up our public college and university campuses. All of this is creating jobs right now but it's also building a platform for long-term growth.
So, that's the strategy: education, innovation and infrastructure. It's our focus all over the Commonwealth and it is how, I believe, we can and will win the future.
As we describe - and most especially execute on - our strategy, more and more companies from around the world look to invest in Massachusetts. That's what the most recent trade missions to Israel and the United Kingdom were about. That's what earlier missions to China and to California were about. And you can expect more of these in the future.
As you all can probably tell from the video that was shown, the trip that we led and some of you participated in was a grueling and productive one. Coming off of a very successful week just before in Israel we landed in Heathrow and were immediately greeted by the Consul General. We jumped into a series of meetings with our counterparts in government at a very high level, visits with members of the academic and business communities and some opportunities to connect with some of the entrepreneurs doing very exciting work in the UK.
Right now there are almost 500 companies with UK ties operating in the Commonwealth. Of these, 225 UK-owned firms in the state employ, as Phil was saying, over 40,000 of our residents. The UK is the largest market for our exports, valued at $4 billion in 2009. So we had a strong foundation to work from when we arrived, particularly in the so-called innovation industries where we have a shared strength in developing the ideas that will power the economy of tomorrow.
We signed an agreement between the stem cell bank and registry housed at the University of Massachusetts and the UK stem cell bank that will open up new collaboration in the life sciences. Our delegation held roundtable events with members of the financial services industry, and visited a life sciences research center in Cambridge as well. We have since identified some specific opportunities for growth and investment, with Cambridge Consultants opening up a wider footprint in Massachusetts this year and a few other firms right behind them.
Right now, I am so proud to be able to today recognize one company who is answering that call and expanding their presence in the Commonwealth. Sagentia is a technology and product development company that lays claim to having two headquarters in two Cambridges -- one in Cambridge, UK, and one in Cambridge, Massachusetts, right across the river. We are thrilled to announce today that Sagentia will be expanding their company by 25 jobs in the near future. Their experience is exactly the kind of success story that we want to replicate in every community in Massachusetts.
As Sagentia Vice President for Global Business Development Peter Their makes his way to the platform, let me conclude with this.
It is critical that we continue our efforts to close on the investment opportunities we identified. That's what we're doing today and that's what we will do when we receive a reciprocal trade mission from the United Kingdom back to Massachusetts later this year. We are looking forward to hosting them and hope to return the same hospitality we experienced on your side of the Atlantic.
So to those of you already operating here in Massachusetts: work with us. In government as well as in business, we have to expand our capacity to look out, not just in, to build partnerships with those outside our own expertise, our own economic strata, and our own Nation, for that matter. It's exciting - and brimming with jobs and other opportunities for all of us.
To those of you who have yet to join us: on behalf of the people of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, I invite you to take a closer look. Think of us, seriously, as your "home away from home." We're just a short, direct plane ride away. And we are excited to work together.
Now, let me present Peter Their to say a few words about today's announcement.