COMPREHENSIVE ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT BILL SIGNED BY GOVERNOR
Focuses on job growth, workforce development and infrastructure investments
State Representative Joseph F. Wagner (D-Chicopee), Chairman of the House Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies, today announced that Governor Baker signed into law on Wednesday the final version of an omnibus economic development package enacted by the legislature. The legislation authorizes approximately $1 billion in capital investments over five years for targeted investments to support workforce housing, infrastructure improvements, job creation, and the state’s technology and manufacturing sectors.
“Through targeted investments and policy initiatives, the legislation provides the tools necessary to foster continued growth in the innovation economy, strengthen the manufacturing sector, support housing and infrastructure upgrades and provide the training and equipment for workforce development through our state,” said Wagner, who co-authored the bill. “By investing in a number of key programs, this legislation will position Massachusetts for continued economic growth.”
Most notably, the bill authorizes $500 million for the MassWorks Infrastructure Program, which provides towns and cities with funding and grants to make important public infrastructure upgrades and improvements to support economic development projects. Last October, Chicopee, Holyoke, and Springfield combined to receive more than $9 million in funding from the program.
“This bill is an important tool for our City as well as other Gateway Cities,” said Mayor Kos. “The support it gives for promoting job creation, workforce development, and infrastructure improvements is invaluable. I thank Rep. Wagner and the legislative delegation for their hard work in passing this very important legislation.”
The bill also establishes a College Savings Tax Incentive Program, or also known as 529 plans, which will offer an incentive for families across Massachusetts to open and grow college savings plans. For single filers and married filing separate or head of household, a deduction is allowed of up to $1,000. For married filing jointly, a deduction is allowed for up to $2,000. The bill largely offsets the costs of the new program by closing a loophole relative to an existing tax deduction for college tuition payments to ensure those credits are only available to Massachusetts residents.
Building on the efforts of the 2014 economic development legislation, this bill authorizes $45 million in capital spending for the Transformative Development Initiative which supports residential, commercial, industrial and institutional development in Gateway Cities. The program, administered by MassDevelopment, strategically focuses on districts within Gateway Cities. In 2015, ten districts were established across 11 Gateway Cities, including Holyoke and Springfield.
Other notable capital spending provisions and policy initiatives include:
• $71 million for matching grants to enable Massachusetts colleges and universities to participate in the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation initiative (NNMI). The NNMI is a federal initiative that organizes and encourages public and private entities to co-invest in unique, but industrially relevant, manufacturing technologies with broad commercial applications.
• $45 million for the Workforce Skills Capital Grants program to purchase and install critical equipment for career technical education and training programs aligned with regional workforce development priorities across the state.
• $45 million to the Brownfields Redevelopment Fund to encourage environmental cleanup and remediation of properties that are vacant, abandoned, or underutilized.
• $30 million for the Advanced Manufacturing, Technology and Hospitality Training Trust Fund which supports training programs in vocational-technical schools and community colleges.
• $2.4 million for the Early College High School Program, also known as the Dual Enrollment Program, which allows students pursuing a high school diploma to simultaneously earn college credits toward an associate degree or other professional certificates.
• $6 million for the Massachusetts Food Trust Program, which provides grants and technical assistance to support access to healthy food options and improve economic opportunities for nutritionally underserved in urban, rural, and suburban localities.
• Establishes an Angel Investor Tax Credit within the existing Massachusetts Life Sciences Center to incentivize investment and foster growth in newly formed start-ups, especially in the digital healthcare and information technology sectors.
• Establishes a new program within the Smart Growth Zoning Act to encourage communities to adopt starter home zoning districts in an effort to spur development of modestly priced, single-family homes on smaller lots of land.
• Reforms the Housing Development Incentive Program in an effort to generate market rate housing in Gateway Cities, and the Urban Center Housing Tax Increment Financing program, which promotes residential and commercial growth through local property tax incentives.