Lt. Governor Karyn Polito, dubbed the “road warrior” because of a travel schedule that has taken her to every city and town in Massachusetts, told AIM members Friday that the measure of economic growth is the degree to which prosperity is shared throughout the commonwealth.
Polito told more than 850 business leaders gathered for the AIM Annual Meeting that the Baker Administration has sought to meld state programs such as the Economic Development Incentive Program and Massworks with regional growth strategies that reflect the unique economic footprint of each region.
“What we have learned from this journey is to develop strong relationships that help to grow the economy throughout the state,” said Polito, a lifelong Shrewsbury resident who represented that town in the Legislature before becoming Lieutenant Governor in 2015.
She added later: “People don’t judge how things are going in life by how things are going at the State House, on Beacon Hill…They judge things by how things are going in the communities where they raise their kids.”
Polito keynoted a celebration of Massachusetts employers that also saw AIM present Vision Awards to the financial services company, MassMutual, and to philanthropists Bill and Joyce Cummings. The association also honored the Springfield Empowerment Zone Partnership with the 2018 John Gould Education and Work Force Development Award.
Polito recalled sitting in city and town halls throughout the commonwealth speaking to local officials about the best ways to stimulate the economies in those communities. The conversations dovetailed with an administration effort to persuade local governments to share best practices and become more efficient.
More than 850 of those best-practice projects are currently underway.
The lieutenant governor said that ensuring economic development takes place “from one end of this great state to another” was a priority for the administration from the start. She noted several examples, including investment in a life-sciences incubator in Pittsfield, development of a life-sciences manufacturing center in Worcester, the introduction of broadband Internet to 53 western Massachusetts communities that lacked it, and the use of $275 million in infrastructure investments to improve everything from downtown commercial streets to access roads opening up industrial parks.
“Each region has incredible assets…regional strategies are integral to growing the economy throughout the commonwealth,” she said.
Polito also stressed the importance of solving key economic issues such as the shortage of skilled workers, the shortage of affordable housing and the rising cost of energy.
She said efforts to address the tight supply of workers are concentrated on three areas – information technology, health care and manufacturing.
The objective is “to graduate students to you with the right skills.”
Polito thanked AIM for representing the interests of all types of employers.
“You give such strong voice to the businesses across our commonwealth, no matter how big or small and no matter where they are situated,” she said.