Massachusetts Listening Sessions on Economic Development Draw over 700 Residents

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Lively Discussion at Quinsigamond Community College in Worcester

Over 700 business leaders, elected officials and community representatives from across Massachusetts came out in full force recently for a series of six listening sessions conducted by the Executive Office of Housing & Economic Development.

The half day sessions were simultaneously conducted in Lowell, Lynn, Quincy, Springfield, West Barnstable and Worcester on June 25, 2015. Topics included talent retention and workforce development, competitiveness and regulation, and zoning and infrastructure.

Jay Ash, Secretary of Housing and Economic Development, said that “Addressing business and community needs directly requires significant, continued engagement, and a concerted effort to understand concerns and craft effective solutions. I look forward to continued partnerships with local officials, businesses, and non-profits as we work together to grow our economy and provide every resident with the opportunity for training and employment.”

Nam Pham, Assistant Secretary of Business Development, called the listening sessions “thoughtful and useful,” adding, “It was a rare opportunity to talk through complex issues and look at potential solutions with a wide range of well-informed stakeholders. The ideas we heard will help us grow the Massachusetts economy.”

The purpose of the sessions was to get business and community input for a comprehensive economic development plan EOHED will begin drafting in the coming months.

Carolyn Kirk, Deputy Secretary of Housing and Economic Development, called the discussions “lively and thought-provoking,” adding that they “will prove to be invaluable in shaping the Commonwealth’s economic development plan.”

Massachusetts law requires the secretary of Housing and Economic Development to draft a comprehensive economic development plan within the first year of a new gubernatorial administration. Secretary Ash has committed to grounding the Baker-Polito Administration’s economic development strategy in public dialogue, and in regional opportunities. These regional listening sessions began a six-month economic development planning process, and serve as a first step in drafting the statutorily-required plan.

Regional Directors from the Massachusetts Office of Business Development include Jon Golnik (Central Mass); Peter Milano (MetroWest and Merrimack Valley); Debra Boronski (Western Mass); Dick Dalton (Greater Boston), Maria DiStefano (Northeastern Mass) and Maria Marasco (Southeastern Mass).