BOSTON — Gov. Deval Patrick has signed H.4377, “An Act to Promote Economic Growth in the Commonwealth,” building on his administration’s economic-development strategy of investing in education, innovation, and infrastructure.
The economic-development package provides new tools and training to ensure the Massachusetts workforce meets the needs of employers, invests in Gateway Cities to promote development across the entire state, and provides incentives to create jobs and stimulate the economy. Patrick also refiled legislation that limits the use of non-compete agreements and adopts the Uniform Trade Secrets Act to ensure that government acts to retain talented entrepreneurs, supports individual career growth, and encourages the development of new, innovative businesses to drive future economic growth.
The legislation also includes a provision to give local governments across Massachusetts control over the number of liquor licenses in their jurisdiction. Placing the authority to approve liquor licenses in the hands of municipal officials will allow local communities to make responsible decisions regarding their economic development and growth, helping to free the Legislature from time-consuming local issues.
“In important ways, this legislation improves existing tools and provides a few new ones to continue our strong job growth, and I thank the Legislature for being so responsive,” said Patrick. “At the same time, we have unfinished business, so I am filing further legislation today to give innovators and municipalities all the tools they need to grow jobs and opportunity.”
The act bolsters the economic revitalization of the Commonwealth’s Gateway Cities with $15 million for the Gateway Cities Transformative Development Fund and encourages the reuse of brownfields in economically distressed areas of Massachusetts with $10 million in funding.
“This legislation makes many targeted investments in our emerging industries, like big data and advanced manufacturing, that are necessary to create a competitive environment here in Massachusetts and grow our status as a leader in the world economy,” said Senate President Therese Murray. “By capitalizing on our state’s existing and developing industries, as well as investing in a strong, educated workforce, we are outlining a path to success for our residents and promoting economic development throughout the entire Commonwealth.”
Added House Speaker Robert DeLeo, “this comprehensive bill will help ensure that residents, businesses, and communities are able to compete and excel in a dynamic economy. We’ve made substantial gains in strengthening our economy and must now focus on broadening the circle of prosperity beyond Greater Boston to all regions of the Commonwealth. This bill does just that while preparing future leaders through provisions like MassCAN, a computer-science-education partnership, and the Talent Pipeline Initiative.”
In the area of workforce development and training, the act includes $12 million for the Middle Skills Job Training Grant Fund to support advanced manufacturing, mechanical and technical skills at vocational-technical schools, and community colleges. Also, the Workforce Competitiveness Trust Fund will receive $1.5 million to prepare Massachusetts residents for new jobs in high-demand occupations, helping close the middle-skills gap and creating a seamless pathway to employment.
The economic-development legislation also includes a number of initiatives to expand the Commonwealth’s world-class innovation economy, including $2 million for a Big Data Innovation and Workforce Fund to promote the use of big data, open data, and analytics, and $2 million for the Innovation Institute Fund at the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative. The legislation also creates a $1 million talent-pipeline program that will provide matching grants aimed at increasing technology and innovation internships, and another $1 million for a startup mentoring program to connect early-stage entrepreneurs, technology startups, and small business with experienced business enterprises and capital financing.