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State Economic Council Sets Berkshire Listening Session
01:45PM / Monday, May 13, 2019
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NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The Baker administration's new Economic Development Planning Council will meet at Massachusetts Museum of  Contemporary Art next month as a part of a regional listening tour.

Gov. Charlie Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito on Monday swore in members of the council that will provide input on and oversight of an economic development plan that will be presented to Baker by the end of the year. Polito and Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Mike Kennealy will serve as co-chairs of the council.

The council includes appointees of the House, Senate, relevant Executive Secretariats, and municipal leaders, along with small-business owners and entrepreneurs, leaders from key business sectors and higher education.

"Our administration values the unique insight the members of the Economic Development Planning Council will bring under Lt. Gov. Polito and Secretary Kennealy's leadership to continue propelling Massachusetts' economy forward," Baker said in a release announcing the council's agenda. "We remain committed to empowering local communities with the tools and funding needed to succeed and I look forward to reviewing the council's recommendations."

The session on Thursday, June 13, at 10 a.m. at Mass MoCA will be the culmination of the regional engagement tour that begins Salem State University on Wednesday. In all, the council will visit eight regions throughout the state, including Springfield Technical Community College at 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday, May 21.

Members of the council include Pat Begrowicz, owner and president of Onyx Specialty Papers in Lee; Stephen Boyd, CEO of Boyd Technologies in Lee and Brian Fairbank, chairmanof The Fairbank Group of Hancock.

The council and process are guided by Section 16G of Chapter 6A of the Massachusetts General Laws, which requires a new economic development plan formulated and signed by the governor within the first year of a new administration. The council will embark on regional engagement sessions across the state to obtain public input in the development of a new economic development plan, which the council will approve and present to the governor to guide economic policy over the next four years.

"With council members hailing from the Berkshires to the Cape, representing industries ranging from health care to financial services to manufacturing, from entrepreneurial ventures to large established companies, the composition of this council will ensure Massachusetts benefits from a diversity of perspectives," Polito said in the statement.

At the onset of the Baker-Polito administration's first term in 2015, a similar process resulted in the "Opportunities For All" plan. This formed the basis for the administration's economic development policy and led to the filing of economic development legislation in 2016 and 2018. Together with the Legislature, the resulting bills signed by Baker collectively authorized more than $2 billion toward growing the economy and promoting regional equity within Massachusetts.

Since 2015, the administration has invested $1.5 billion in grants in more than 300 communities, spurring the addition of thousands of jobs and housing across the commonwealth.

More information can be found here.


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