Massachusetts: Innovation is its Business
26 Jan, 2016
Compiled by Rachel Duran
The commonwealth of Massachusetts remains a competitive place to start, grow and or expand a diverse array of businesses, writes Paul McMorrow, director of policy and communications for the state’s Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development. In an email correspondence, Morrow attributes the commonwealth’s quality of life as a key component in successfully attracting investment, which includes: world-class educational institutions; first-class health care choices; the expansion of transportation options, and diverse geography.
“As part of our economic development plan, we are focusing on seven key areas to enhance the commonwealth’s business climate,” McMorrow notes. This includes:
- Prepare communities for success
- Foster a culture of innovation and entrepreneurships
- Advance key clusters and industries
- Create a balanced regulatory framework
- Expand workforce development
- Adopt housing policies supporting economic growth
- Improve access to transportation
“In the coming year, this is the framework we will use to continue to grow the commonwealth’s economy,” McMorrow writes. “Additionally, our Economic Development Incentive Program helps companies expand and grow in the Massachusetts. Success stories this year include, Amazon, IBM and many local and regional companies.”
McMorrow also adds that during the coming year, “we will work closely with the Legislature to file an economic development bill to implement our economic agenda as laid out in the economic development plan.”
In regard to the seven key areas government leaders plan to focus on, in December 2015, the “prepare communities for success” component received a boost with the introduction of An Act to Modernize Municipal Finance and Government.
Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito introduced the act, which would eliminate or update obsolete laws, promote local independence, streamline state oversight and provide municipalities with greater flexibility. The announcement was the result of hundreds of meetings, conversations, and proposals between the administration and municipal officials as part of Polito’s “Building Stronger Communities” tour.
“The legislation we are proposing today incorporates a tremendous amount of feedback and a common sense approach to addressing reforms and strengthening our partnership with Massachusetts cities and towns,” notes Kristen Lepore, secretary Massachusetts Executive Office for Administration and Finance.
In other legislative-related activities, the governor recently established the Massachusetts Workforce Development Board. The board will coordinate services through one-stop career centers and workforce boards, as well as issue policy recommendations to align the public workforce system and improve performance accountability. The board will also develop strategies to promote workforce participation of women, people of color, veterans, and persons with disabilities across industry sectors.
Industries and Innovations
Massachusetts is an established global hub of innovation, and continues to be one of the most diverse and innovative creative economy clusters in the nation. A number of programs and collaborations support the over 100,000 people employed in the industry.
According to the Massachusetts Technology (MassTech) Collaborative, nearly 40 percent of the commonwealth’s total employment is in the 11 key sectors of the innovation economy. The commonwealth’s technology sector produces an estimated $65 billion of output, or 20 percent of the GDP.
The MassTech Collaborative manages the Innovation Institute, a stakeholder-led initiative that helps identify and develop opportunities for economic growth and supports industry-led initiatives within the innovation economy. Initiatives focus on big data, advanced manufacturing, mentorship initiatives and intern partnerships, among others.
Massachusetts’ seven economic regions are home to a diverse range of industry clusters including life sciences, finance, information technology, manufacturing, renewable energy, defense, creative industries and maritime.
McMorrow writes Massachusetts is a hub of financial services companies serving local, regional, national, and international clients. And from pharmaceuticals and medical devices to diagnostics and biotechnology, Massachusetts is a global leader in the life sciences, supported by world-class universities, teaching hospitals and research institutions.
With 192 miles of coastline, the marine science industry is booming in Massachusetts and consists of a wide range of businesses, highly respected research facilities, and higher education institutions such as Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.
Talent and Education
In April 2015, the University of Massachusetts Amherst opened a new Center for Data Science. Big data is an emerging cluster in the commonwealth, where nearly 500 companies work in the data science arena. UMass Amherst is involved in a number of collaborations including with Holyoke Gas & Electric to increase energy efficiency with smart meters and smart grid technology; and working with Akamai to understand how billions of users around the world interact with Internet-based services; as well as a National Institutes of Health project taking place on the campus to study the next generation of wearable health sensors.
In July, the MassTech Collaborative announced a new partnership with Entrepreneurship for All (EforAll), which is aimed at growing the ranks of entrepreneurs in the South Coast region. “EforAll is thrilled to be opening up its second program in the South Coast region,” said David Parker, executive director of EforAll, at the time of the announcement. “I know through my many conversations in the area over the past six months that there are thousands of budding entrepreneurs in and around the cities and towns of the South Coast. EforAll will build a community of mentors, experts, and volunteers to help turn people with great ideas into successful entrepreneurs.”
McMorrow notes there is great potential for the continued growth in the advanced and middle skills manufacturing sector. “Through the work of the Workforce Skills Cabinet [composed of the secretaries of Labor & Workforce, Education, and Housing & Economic Development] the Baker-Polito Administration is working to connect job seekers with training and job placement into this emerging field.”
According to www.massecon.com there is always something happening in Massachusetts — from the bustling cities to the rural landscapes, from the Berkshires to Cape Cod, and from the historic to the modern. The commonwealth features world-famous paintings, inspiring theatre performances, beautiful symphonies, and outstanding restaurants that satisfy all the senses.