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MA authorizes more than $1 billion in new economic development activities

August 30, 2018
By: Jason Rittenberg

The Massachusetts legislature ended its 2018 session with a slate of bills related to tech-based economic development. Legislation for general economic development, life sciences industry, and green communities created new authorizations and provided for more than $1 billion in bond funding authority, with a substantial portion allocation to innovation-related activities. From broadband access to SBIR support to workforce development, the bills created a host of new opportunities for TBED in the Bay State.

Economic Development (Ch. 228)

The legislature passed bond funding authorizations for a long list of more than $500 million in local economic development projects and several statewide initiatives. Among the latter, MassVentures was approved for $12.5 million to continue supporting SBIR/STTR awardees; $25 million was authorized for Manufacturing USA centers in the state; and, $2.5 million is approved for cybersecurity innovation. The innovation-related local approvals include:

  • Projects to develop solar vehicles ($3 million);
  • A multi-partner project to investigate marine genetics ($1.3 million);
  • Startup ecosystem support in Worcester ($1 million);
  • UMass at Lowell’s medical device and startup support services ($250,000);
  • Technical assistance to gateway cities with opportunity zones ($500,000 to match nonprofit funding);
  • The Berkshire Innovation Center equipment upgrades ($1.6 million);
  • Biomedical and IT workforce initiatives for low-income adults in Cambridge ($1 million);
  • Biomedical and life sciences company attraction to Braintree ($3 million);
  • Translation research support at the Baystate Clinical Trials Unit ($2 million);
  • Broadband access initiatives in Petersham ($880,000), Fitchburg ($350,000), Hyannis ($300,000), Falmouth ($200,000) and Northampton ($100,000); and,
  • A new business entrepreneurship center at Fitchburg State University ($500,000).

The legislation also established an apprenticeship tax credit that can provide companies with up to $4,800 or 50 percent of the wages of an eligible apprentice.*

Life Sciences Industry (Ch. 112)

A new bond fund authorization provides substantially increased investment into the Massachusetts life sciences industry, which a recent report claims to account for one-third of all industry investment around the country. Highlights from the authorization bill include the following:

  • UMass Amherst ($47 million) and Dartmouth ($21.8 million) are authorized to construct bio-manufacturing centers;
  • UMass Lowell and the Medical School at Worcester may advance a neuroscience workforce training and commercialization center ($50 million);
  • Regional economic development organizations will be allowed to access $5 million for life sciences, bio-manufacturing and innovation; and,
  • Community colleges working with the Life Sciences Center and industry can access $10 million in authorized funding for workforce issues.

Green Communities (Ch. 169)

Massachusetts revisited its authorizations for initiatives designed to reduce energy reliance. The new law helps to extend the state’s market for renewable energy and energy efficiency by strengthening requirements around alternative fuel vehicles, efficient rehabilitation, municipal electric plans, and more. The bill also reinforces the Massachusetts Renewable Energy Trust Fund’s ability to make equity investments into relevant businesses and projects.


*Added Sept. 25, 2018.

Massachusettsstate tbed, life sciences, cleantech, energy, economic development