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Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — A new report by MassINC and Cambridge Econometrics finds the Pioneer Valley has considerable strength in industries and technologies poised to grow with the transition to a low-carbon future. Billed as a “prospectus for transformative economic investment,” the study catalogs the region’s competitive advantages in food science, advanced materials, and clean energy.

“From sustainably producing alternative proteins from cells to protecting our drinking-water supplies from pollutants and extreme weather events, our region is developing the technologies of the future,” said Rick Sullivan, president and CEO of the Western Massachusetts Economic Development Council. “It is imperative that we collectively recognize the opportunity and make strategic investments in these growing sectors.”

Citing the recent announcement of a $10 billion investment in Albany’s semiconductor sector and other notable examples of state-backed efforts to grow advanced industries, the report calls for the establishment of a $500 million economic-development fund for Western Mass. Resources from the fund would be deployed to draw federal and private investment into the high-growth sectors where the region is well-positioned to gain competitive niches in the innovation economy.

“UMass Amherst is committed to working closely with our partners in Western Massachusetts to play a central role in fostering economic development and growth for the benefit of our region,” UMass Amherst Chancellor Javier Reyes said. “As the Commonwealth’s land-grant university, our researchers make new discoveries and develop technologies that support local industry and prepare the workforce required for the Commonwealth to flourish in the decades ahead.”

Charles D’Amour, executive chairman of Big Y, added that Western Mass. can capitalize on disruptive changes in the food industry. “From biotechnologies under development at UMass to innovative efforts to support local food entrepreneurs, the Pioneer Valley is situated to generate broadly shared wealth, positioning itself as a leading producer of sustainable food products.”

The federal government is eager to see the transition to a low-carbon future spur new forms of economic activity in slower-growth metropolitan areas across the U.S. Similarly, Gov. Maura Healey has called for the development of a clean-energy corridor across the entire state.

While the Pioneer Valley has many competitive strengths, including top-ranked programs in food science and advanced materials at UMass Amherst, the report indicates substantial investment is needed to increase research and development in the region, partner with existing businesses, commercialize new technologies, accommodate industrial growth with limited land available for development, and prepare the workforce to build the products of the future.

“This research illuminates promising opportunities unique to the Pioneer Valley as we develop low-carbon technologies,” said Jay Ash, president and CEO of the Massachusetts Competitive Partnership. “We must work together to help the region tap these opportunities to generate strong and equitable growth.”

Ben Forman, MassINC research director and co-author of the study, is eager to see the state act with urgency in this moment. “As a commonwealth, we have overlooked the Pioneer Valley for decades, jeopardizing its economic base,” he said. “It’s time to recognize and build on the region’s considerable economic assets.”

Daily News

BOSTON — Joe Kriesberg has been named the next president and CEO of MassINC, a non-partisan think tank dedicated to making Massachusetts a place of civic vitality and inclusive economic opportunity.

Kriesberg will oversee all strategic planning, fundraising, and operations for the organization’s work across multiple disciplines, including research and civic programs, and will serve as publisher of CommonWealth, MassINC’s civic news outlet. The organization also includes the MassINC Polling Group, a for-profit subsidiary of MassINC.

Kriesberg will join MassINC after nearly 30 years at the Massachusetts Assoc. of Community Development Corporations (MACDC), an organization which he has led as president and CEO for the past 20 years. MACDC is the policy and capacity-building arm of the community-development movement in Massachusetts, with 100 nonprofit member organizations across the state. As President, Kriesberg was responsible for the overall management of the agency, including financial management and fundraising, program development and implementation, policy advocacy, staff supervision, board management, and strategic planning.

In his role leading MACDC, Kriesberg has been a strong advocate for vibrant communities and has advanced issues such as economic opportunity, affordable housing, and innovative development, all of which align with MassINC’s dedication to civic vitality and economic inclusion.

“With his background at MACDC, proven track record of results, and deep expertise on the most timely issues facing the Commonwealth, I can’t think of a better person than Joe to build upon MassINC’s success over the last 27 years and carry this incredible organization into the future,” said Greg Torres, MassINC board chair and co-chair of the search committee. Torres also served as president of MassINC from 2007 to 2016.

Kriesberg, who will officially start in mid-January, will replace Lauren Louison Grogan, who was most recently MassINC’s president and CEO. Maeve Duggan, currently chief operating officer of MassINC, has been acting president and CEO since June.

“MassINC plays a unique and vital role in maintaining Massachusetts’ leadership in our democracy,” Kriesberg said. “At a moment when our Commonwealth is working to build a more inclusive and equitable economy and respectful public discourse, the need for high quality, fact-based research; collaborative civic engagement; and exceptional journalism that a nonpartisan organization such as MassINC offers has never been more important. I am thrilled and honored to lead this work, and I can’t wait to get started.”

Daily News

BOSTON — MassINC’s latest report, ‘Sizing Up Massachusetts’ Looming Skilled-Worker Shortage,’ projects the state’s working-age, college-educated labor force will decline by approximately 10% from current levels, creating a larger decrease than expected.

“There are simply no more college-educated workers to come by,” said Ben Forman, MassINC’s research director. “Each year we’ll have fewer than the previous, unless Massachusetts does a far better job helping students through higher education and building housing that they can afford.”

According to Forman, labor force participation rates for college-educated residents are already near historic highs and unemployment for this group hovers around 2%.

The study analyzed college-completion figures from the state’s Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) and population and migration data from the U.S. Census Bureau. The findings suggest that lower college completion rates among people of color, retiring baby boomers, more outmigration and lower immigration rates will simultaneously place downward pressure on the state’s skilled labor force.

“Demographers have long warned that the retirement of baby boomers would present a challenge for Massachusetts,” said Forman. “But they didn’t anticipate the degree to which inequality and high housing costs would compound the problem.”

State legislators are trying to increase investment in Early College high schools in this year’s budget. Last week, DESE presented an analysis demonstrating that these programs are dramatically increasing college enrollment and completion rates for low-income students and students of color.