- 495/Metrowest Suburban Edge Community Commission
- Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development
- 495/MetroWest Partnership
Media Contact for 495/MetroWest Suburban Edge Community Commission Approves Report Documenting Key Regional Conditions, Findings
Samantha Kaufman, Deputy Director of Communications
ASHLAND — Co-Chairpersons Sen. Karen Spilka and Rep. Kate Hogan, and Assistant Secretary for Communities and Programs Juan Vega are pleased to announce that the 495/MetroWest Suburban Edge Community Commission approved its report on findings for the 495/MetroWest region. This Commission was established by the Legislature in 2015 to examine the development challenges facing 33 suburban edge communities in the 495/MetroWest region and determine how the Commonwealth’s programs and initiatives can address their needs.
The report is prepared in two sections. Section 1 is a narrative that provides a synopsis of the development challenges considered by the Commission, documents regional constraints to growth, and identifies key findings to address these issues. Section 2 is a detailed regional profile prepared by the Commission’s research partner, the UMass Dartmouth Public Policy Center (PPC), which systematically examines relevant conditions in the 495/MetroWest region. Members of the Commission voted to adopt the report during a meeting at the Warren Center on Friday, Jan 26, 2018. Approval of the report was unanimous among commissioners present. The report will soon be available online at the Department of Housing and Economic Development and 495/MetroWest Suburban Edge Community Commission websites.
“We are proud of the work we’ve accomplished with our partners in the legislature, municipal leaders, and regional organizations to identify the assets and opportunities of the 495/MetroWest region,” said Housing and Economic Development Secretary Jay Ash. “This report provides a necessary road map for our continued work on long-term economic development strategies that will benefit residents, communities and businesses.”
“MetroWest is one of the most dynamic, vital areas of the state, and it is critical that we address the development and infrastructure challenges identified in this report to continue to foster growth across the region,” said Sen. Karen E. Spilka (D-Ashland), Commission Co-Chairwoman. “Our communities have worked hard to establish a strong regional identity, and this Commission is shining a long overdue spotlight on our unique strengths, obstacles and opportunities for future success.”
“Among the first of its kind, this report paints a picture of today’s 495/MetroWest region and will serve as a blueprint for our economic future,” said Rep. Kate Hogan (D-Stow), Commission Co-Chairwoman. “Through a comprehensive study of the infrastructure issues facing our growing communities, the Commission has laid the groundwork to ensure our region on the rise can more fully engage in state initiatives and compete for state resources from which we have previously been overlooked. Of course, this milestone wouldn’t be possible without the leadership and vision of House Speaker Robert DeLeo, my Co-Chairs Senator Karen Spilka and Assistant Secretary Juan Vega, our partners at the 495/MetroWest Partnership and UMass Dartmouth, and the dedicated members of the commission who have shared their expertise with us over the past year and a half.”
“Over the past eighteen months, this commission has brought together state and local leaders to craft a shared vision for the future of the 495/MetroWest region,” said Assistant Secretary for Communities and Programs Juan Vega, Commission Co-Chair. “The findings of this report include vital information that will inform the region’s development, will reveal opportunities for growth, and enhance the quality of life for residents.”
Beginning in July 2016, the Commission held 10 regular meetings in towns across the 495/MetroWest region; each meeting examined one of the specific regional development challenges that the Commission seeks to address. In all, the development challenges examined include transportation, water, housing, downtown revitalization, commercial development, industry and employment, energy, educational attainment and skills, and telecommunications. At each meeting, appropriate experts from state, regional, and local agencies and organizations conducted briefings on the topic of the day and the UMass Dartmouth PPC presented the results of its extensive research and analysis to provide additional context and insights for the Commission. Following its final regular meeting in June 2017, the Commission – with the help of its coordinating partner, the 495/MetroWest Partnership – compiled information about the Commission’s meetings and deliberations into Section 1 of the report.
Section 1 of the report documents the Commission’s deliberations and identifies a number of major challenges, including a wide range of infrastructure issues impacting suburban development with implications for municipal government, the Commonwealth, and the private sector. At the conclusion of the first phase of its work, the Commission determined that although all of the issues discussed affect suburban development, in particular, (1) providing transportation system improvements, (2) addressing water supply, wastewater treatment, and stormwater infrastructure, and (3) developing innovative workforce housing would have the most immediate and significant impact on improving conditions in the 495/MetroWest region and helping to make it a better place to live, work, and do business.
“In the 15 years since the Partnership was founded, there’s never been such an in-depth commitment by state leaders to work with our legislators and our municipal officials to identify and address the development challenges of 495/MetroWest and suburban communities,” said Paul Matthews, Executive Director of the 495/MetroWest Partnership. “We are honored by the opportunity to work with the Commission and our state partners, and want to thank Representative Hogan, Senator Spilka, Assistant Secretary Vega, as well as House and Senate leadership, Secretary Ash, and the Baker/Polito Administration for their bipartisan commitment to the meeting the needs of the 495/MetroWest region. The Partnership looks forward to continuing this work with the Commissioners, our municipalities, developers, employers, environmentalists, chambers of commerce, and other key regional leaders to ensure that 495/MetroWest continues as a ‘supernexus’ for the state economy.”
Section 2 of the report is a detailed regional profile prepared by the UMass Dartmouth PPC that summarizes the results of an extensive analysis of demographic, social, and economic data prepared specifically for the Commission. These findings were presented to members during Commission meetings and helped inform their deliberations about the region’s identity and development challenges.
Among the UMass Dartmouth PPC’s findings:
- 495/MetroWest is growing faster than the rest of the state: Between 2010 and 2015, the 495/MetroWest region saw a population increase of 5.6%, compared with 1.7% statewide.
- 495/MetroWest residents are highly educated: 55% of 495/MetroWest residents ages 25+ have a Bachelor’s degree or higher, compared with 41% statewide.
- 495/MetroWest is a major source of talent: Each day an estimated 32,899 workers commute from the region to the City of Boston with thousands more commuting to other locations in Greater Boston.
- 495/MetroWest is a net labor importer: The 495/MetroWest region is home to more jobs than employed residents; in 2014 there were 286,883 primary jobs located in the region and 269,336 employed residents.
- 495/MetroWest is a major source of job opportunities for other regions: An estimated 14,775 residents of the City of Worcester commute to locations within the 495/MetroWest region daily.
- 495/MetroWest is not producing a sufficient supply of housing: Despite solid population growth, regional residential building permitting activity remains well-below 2005 levels.
“The 495/MetroWest region plays a critical role in the Massachusetts economy, both as home to some of the Commonwealth’s largest employers, and as home base for many of the highly skilled workers who fuel the vaunted Massachusetts innovation economy,” said UMass Dartmouth Professor Michael Goodman, Executive Director of the Public Policy Center (PPC) who led the research team. “The region is also a critical source of employment opportunities for workers living in Worcester and Central Massachusetts. In a very real sense, this means successfully meeting the challenges facing 495/MetroWest region will directly benefit businesses and residents both there and in neighboring regions.”
Moving forward, in the next phase of its work, the Commission will circulate its report to key constituencies and develop specific policy responses and recommendations to address the infrastructure issues laid forth in the report and ensure the 495/MetroWest region remains a major contributor to the state economy and a great place to live and work.
Pictured, from left, are Commissioner Representative Carolyn Dykema, Co-Chairman Assistant Secretary Juan Vega, Co-Chairwoman Senator Karen Spilka, Co-Chairman Representative Kate Hogan, Commissioner Representative David Muradian.