Jay Ash acknowledges that it’s a great time to be Secretary of Housing and Economic Development in Massachusetts.
“I am getting a call a week from a company talking to me, not about bringing 100 or 200 or 500 jobs, but 1,000, 5,000 or 10,000 jobs,” Ash told 300 business leaders during a presentation to the AIM Executive Forum this morning.
Ash has recently played a key role in the recruitment or expansion in Massachusetts of major employers ranging from Amazon, General Electric and MassMutual to IBM Watson Health, Kronos and Siemens. These expansions promise thousands of high-quality new jobs for Massachusetts residents while cementing the state’s reputation as a global center of innovation and growth.
“What an unbelievable time to be involved in economic development, and what an unbelievable time to be involved in a great state like Massachusetts,” he said.
Ash, an avuncular Democrat who has overseen economic development for the Baker Administration during its first three years, said Massachusetts benefits from a uniquely bipartisan approach to issues affecting the economy. He noted that the economic development bill announced by the Republican governor just two weeks ago has already been scheduled for a hearing Tuesday by the Democratically controlled Legislature.
The bill would commit $100 million to regionally significant economic development projects throughout the commonwealth, establish an apprenticeship tax credit, double grants to community colleges and vocations high schools to purchase equipment and establish a permanent sales-tax holiday.
Ash said the administration is pursuing its economic agenda in tandem with efforts to expand the availability of housing and to address persistent educational achievement and funding gaps. He thanked Associated Industries of Massachusetts for efforts to streamline the process used by communities to permit both low-income and market-rate housing.
“There’s reason to be optimistic. Let’s roll up our sleeves because the best jobs done are the one we do ourselves.