The Patrick administration yesterday unveiled an economic development plan it says will help Massachusetts compete in the global economy by making strategic investments in education, innovation and infrastructure.
The 34-page blueprint, Choosing to Compete in the 21st Century, is the first to be developed under a 2010 law requiring the governor of Massachusetts to submit to the legislature an economic plan at the beginning of his or her administration. The plan includes five primary initiatives:
- advancing education and workforce development for middle-skill jobs through coordination of education;
- economic development and workforce development programs;
- supporting innovation and entrepreneurship;
- supporting regional development through infrastructure investments and local empowerment; and
- increasing the ease of doing business; and addressing our cost competiveness
An Economic Development Planning Council made up of 34 state officials and business executives developed the plan over eight months. Michael Hogan, President and Chief Executive Officer of the A.D. Makepeace Company in Wareham and a member of the Associated Industries of Massachusetts Board of Directors, represented AIM on the council.
"The Economic Development Planning Council plan will help continue to support the economic growth we have seen, while identifying ways to make Massachusetts more competitive in the world economy and allow the administration to work with our partners in the business and academic communities to make the commonwealth stronger in the long term," Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Gregory Bialecki said in a statement.
The plan contains 55 specific recommendations that strongly reflect the administration’s emphasis on supporting innovation industries and emerging technologies.
Key recommendations, taken directly from the plan, include:
- Design and develop a cohesive, coordinated workforce development system with clear leadership - The commonwealth requires a more cohesive and coordinated “workforce development system” and employers, education and workforce training providers, and others should be engaged in designing this system.
- Protect and maintain full funding of currently well-performing programs such as the Workforce Training Program.
- Strengthen and support the innovation community - Increasingly, the commonwealth will succeed in sectors where its public and private universities, research institutions and companies collaborate to drive discovery and address barriers to development and commercialization that no one institution can do by itself.
- Engage in on-going state regulatory review - In order to enhance the long-term health and prosperity of the state, it is important to maintain a transparent and consistent regulatory process that considers the economic impact of government regulation.
- Contain the increasing cost of health care while protecting access and quality - The commonwealth needs to maintain an appropriate balance between providing both top quality and unimpeded access to health care for its citizens while at the same time carefully watching the increasing cost impact on businesses and jobs.
- Reduce energy costs while creating a diversified energy portfolio that balances competitive pricing with sustainability - While containing the growth of energy costs is a paramount concern in the short-term, it is equally important to focus on longer-term, sustainable energy sources that will fuel our growing economy.
- Make the tax structure more simple, competitive, and predictable by addressing the use of tax-based business incentives - Businesses make location and expansion decisions based not only on the overall business tax burden, but also on the simplicity, fairness and predictability of the tax system. A competitive tax system for Massachusetts should address both aspects. An appropriate area of focus is the use, effectiveness and accountability of tax-based business incentives in the state.
The legislature will conduct a hearing on the administration plan early in 2012.
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