Photo courtesy of State House News
Today, Governor Maura Healey and Lieutenant Governor Kim Driscoll announced Massachusetts Senator Anne Gobi will join their administration as the new Director of Rural Affairs in the Executive Office of Economic Development.
In this new role created by the Healey-Driscoll Administration, Gobi will serve as a dedicated advocate and ombudsman cultivating economic development within rural communities. She will ensure that the needs of rural and regional economies are incorporated into the economic development plan being developed by the Executive Office of Economic Development and will be responsible for coordinating with secretariats and state agencies to ensure that state government is attuned to the unique needs of these towns.
“We are building an economy that benefits all communities, businesses, and people in Massachusetts, particular those that are too often overlooked and underrepresented like rural and small towns,” said Governor Maura Healey. “Senator Gobi’s fierce advocacy of rural equity, agricultural and small businesses, and conservation initiatives makes her the ideal candidate to help our rural towns across the state succeed.”
“Senator Gobi brings to this new role deep knowledge of the challenges that rural and small-town economies face and decades of experience serving the people of our state,” said Lieutenant Governor Kim Driscoll. “We are excited to welcome her to our administration and look forward to working with her to better reach rural communities and help them grow.”
Gobi was first elected to the Legislature in 2001 as State Representative and became State Senator in 2014 representing 22 communities in Worcester and Hampshire counties, several of which are rural. She currently serves as the Senate Chair of the Agriculture Committee, Vice Chair of the Higher Education Committee, and Co-Chair of the Commission on 21st Century Farming within the Legislature. She also co-chairs the Rural Caucus, Food Systems Caucus, Regional Transit Authority Caucus, Municipal Light Caucus and Regional Schools Caucus, and serves on the East-West Rail Commission.
“Massachusetts’ rural and small towns have such an important role to play in our state’s economy and I’m excited to have a true champion of these communities join Team Massachusetts,” said Economic Development Secretary Yvonne Hao. “Senator Gobi has the knowledge, experience, and passion required to connect with the needs of rural towns and plug these municipalities into our state’s many economic development resources.”
An avid outdoorsman, Gobi co-founded the Sportsmen’s Caucus, which convenes supporters of fishing, hunting and other outdoor activities. She also serves as a member of the Veterans and Federal Affairs Committee. Prior to being elected to the Legislature, she taught at Leicester High School, had her own law office, and worked with victims of domestic violence at Central Mass Legal Assistance. A lifelong Spencer resident, Gobi graduated from Worcester State University and the Massachusetts School of Law.
“Our office supports all of Massachusetts’ 351 cities and towns, more than half of which are rural communities,” said Undersecretary Ashley Stolba. “We’re excited that Senator Gobi will join our office to provide these municipalities with dedicated attention to help their economies succeed.”
“I am thrilled to take on this important role and grateful to the Healey-Driscoll Administration for elevating our rural communities,” said Senator Gobi. “While I will miss the Legislature, I look forward to continuing to work for the needs of small towns throughout the Commonwealth as their advocate in state government.”
Gobi will start in her new role June 5 as a member of the Executive Office of Economic Development’s economic foundations team led by Undersecretary Ashley Stolba. She will be tasked with conducting a review of all state grant opportunities, including the Community One Stop for Growth, to ensure that barriers for rural and small towns are mitigated and will host dedicated office hours for rural towns to receive technical assistance to identify and explore grant opportunities. She will also serve as a member of the Rural Policy Commission, which advocates for the vitality of rural communities as well as legislative and policy solutions that address rural needs.
On March 1, Governor Healey filed Article 87 legislation to create a new Executive Office of Housing and Livable Communities headed by a cabinet-level secretary and to rename the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development as the Executive Office of Economic Development. Economic Development Secretary Hao recently announced a restructuring to better position her office to fulfill its mission of promoting business growth, opportunity, and economic vitality for Massachusetts’ communities and residents. This realignment includes an intentional focus on supporting the needs of rural and small towns through the office’s economic foundations team. The Article 87 reorganization plan will take effect June 1.