May 24
State Representative John W. Scibak joined his colleagues in the Legislature yesterday afternoon in passing a comprehensive economic development and jobs bill. This bill implements strategically-focused economic development policies that will make Massachusetts more competitive by improving the Commonwealth’s innovation economy, promoting economic prosperity through infrastructure investments and streamlined permitting, facilitating the expansion of new and existing businesses, and training our workforce for the future. “I commend Chairman Joseph Wagner of the Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies and his staff for their work in crafting this important legislation,” said House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo. “Since I became Speaker in 2009, creating and retaining jobs has been on the top of the House to-do list and I’m proud to say that this bill lays the framework for job growth by establishing a friendly environment in the Commonwealth for small businesses, start-ups, future entrepreneurs, manufacturers and others.” “This legislation provides for strategically-focused economic development policies that will make Massachusetts more competitive and foster job creation,” said Representative Joseph F. Wagner, Chairman of the Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies. “We achieve that by strengthening the Massachusetts’ innovation economy, promoting economic growth through targeted infrastructure investments, and by training our workforce to meet the needs of tomorrow’s economy.” “Through this legislation, the House has shown a commitment to sustaining the Commonwealth’s position as a leader with respect to job creation,” said House Ways and Means Chairman Brian S. Dempsey. “While we are still recovering from the past several years of recession, it is critical that we continue to provide innovative and thoughtful investments to retain and encourage employment here in the Commonwealth.” This legislation first makes investments in infrastructure through the creation of the MassWorks Infrastructure Program, which will serve as a one-stop-shop for infrastructure funding, thus simplifying the process for municipalities and enabling the state to allocate the funds in the most efficient manner. Additionally, given the recent success of Boston’s Innovation District, this bill makes more funding available for project financing via the I-cubed program. In an effort to further strengthen the innovation economy in Massachusetts, this bill aims to prime the workers of tomorrow through the Innovation Investment Fund and the Talent Pipeline Program. The Innovation Investment Fund, which will offer matching grants to research and development projects sponsored by the state’s world-class universities and research institutions, will put Massachusetts ahead of others on the front of innovation and economic development. The Talent Pipeline Program allows students and young innovators to get a head start on their future by matching stipends for interns at technology and innovation start-ups. These early connections will make for a strong innovation economy in the long term. Additionally, the legislation provides for a recapitalization of the Workforce Competitiveness Trust Fund with a focus on “middle skill” jobs through collaboration between public educational institutions, workforce investment boards, and local employers. This legislation also encourages economic growth by expanding expedited local permitting, which will enable communities to use the Chapter 43D local option program to promote residential development in addition to commercial and mixed-use development that are currently allowed by law. Realizing that small businesses are the lifeblood of our Commonwealth, this bill provides financial support and a new online resource for owners. The bill first builds on the state’s already-strong commitment to small businesses by authorizing PRIM to invest at least $100 million in institutions that make capital available to small businesses and early-stage companies. And this bill also creates the Small Business Online Portal, which is a one-stop-shop for small-business owners looking for help or information. Other provisions of the bill include:
  • Creates a new Local Infrastructure Development Program that gives municipalities a new tool for leveraging private funding to finance infrastructure improvements needed to support economic development projects;
  • Establishes a Massachusetts Creative Economy Network tasked with creating a mentoring network, developing certification for creative economy businesses and attracting private investment to creative economy businesses;
  • Streamlines the Economic Development Incentive Program, simplifying the program for municipalities and businesses seeking tax credits while maximizing the program’s efficiency;
  • Changes District Improvement Financing making it easier for cities and towns to use;
  • Extends Brownfield tax credits for two additional years (until 2015);
  • Extends for another two years state and local permits held by any developer who has been unable to proceed with their project because of tight credit markets;
  • Increases the annual cap on the state Historic Rehabilitation tax credit from $50 million to $60 million;
  • Transfers $4 million from one-time settlements to the Rainy Day Fun to go to the Smart Growth Housing Trust Fund;
  • Provides $250,000 for a competitive grant program through the Small Business Association of New England that averts layoffs at manufacturing companies;
  • Creates a Manufacturing Grant Program that will support small and mid-sized enterprises;
  • And creates a Community Investment Tax Credit Program that seeks to promote long-term public/private partnerships at the community level by providing a special donation tax credit for contributions made to selected community improvement efforts.