During the first week of January, NAIOP Massachusetts provided the Baker- Polito Administration (including select cabinet secretaries and commissioners) with the report, Good to Great: Recommendations for the Baker Polito Administration. The report is the result of significant input from NAIOP members and focuses on a wide range of ideas – big and small – affecting the Executive Office of Housing & Economic Development (EOHED), the Executive Office of Energy & Environmental Affairs (EOEEA) and transportation (MassDOT).
Over the course of the next few months, we will highlight one recommendation per week on this blog. Comments are encouraged! NAIOP looks forward to working with the new Administration to implement these recommendations and find new ways to encourage economic growth in Massachusetts.
EOHED: Establishing Economic Priorities & Initiatives
The Secretary of Housing & Economic Development should be the empowered advocate for the business community, both within the Cabinet and externally. Nearly all policies and regulations have an impact on the business community – including the businesses that are already located in Massachusetts, as well as those relocating to the Commonwealth. NAIOP urges the Baker Polito Administration to make the Secretary of Housing & Economic Development the vocal advocate for business interests through the following initiatives:
- Work closely with the leading business trade groups to ensure the state is providing the kind of incentives and programs needed to foster broad-based growth, not simply those favored by the Administration (i.e., don’t pick winners, make decisions based on need).
- Expand and strengthen the Regulatory Reform Initiative created in 2012, an Administration-wide regulatory reevaluation for all state agencies. Start by appointing a Regulatory Ombudsman and consider freezing any policies or regulations approved in the final 60 days of 2014.
- Simplify the administration of all of the state’s business incentives and consolidate economic development agencies. The Baker Polito Administration should examine the current list of economic development agencies and quasi-publics and determine if there should be some consolidation. In addition, incentives should be coordinated and streamlined – too many agencies are overseeing incentives right now, resulting in confusion and missed opportunities for businesses.
- Identify opportunities for privatization and public-private partnerships. There are numerous opportunities for privatization (e.g., transportation, water infrastructure, etc.) However, the “Pacheco” law makes it virtually impossible to actually do any of these. The Baker Polito Administration should consider a targeted “pilot” program to break through this problem, with EOHED taking a lead in advocating for such a concept.
- Create incentive packages for start-ups. Most of the net job growth in the country is attributable to companies in operation five years or less. Many states are aggressively looking to attract and nurture start-ups (e.g. New York’s startup.ny.gov). Massachusetts, led by EOHED and working with organizations like the Cambridge Innovation Center, should consider strategies that provide the necessary ecosystem for start-ups within Massachusetts to thrive and grow into profitable companies. Concepts like “LabCentral,” a shared laboratory space designed as a launch-pad for high potential life sciences and biotech start-ups, could be expanded to most any of the industries in the state offering the space and resources start-ups need.
- Identify ways to build on the Commonwealth’s innovation economy to strengthen and improve government services, while better serving the business community. Massachusetts leads the way in innovation. The many start-ups and globally recognized institutions like MIT and Harvard are an untapped resource for state government. Possible opportunities may exist for apps or innovation companies to improve services for Massachusetts residents and businesses.