State Senate passes sweeping economic development bill boosting support for small businesses, workers and infrastructure projects

COMMONWEALTH OF MASSACHUSETTS
MASSACHUSETTS SENATE
STATE HOUSE, BOSTON 02133

Senator Joan B. Lovely
State Senator
2nd Essex District

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

July 26, 2018

State Senate passes sweeping economic development bill boosting support for small businesses, workers and infrastructure projects

BOSTON — The Massachusetts State Senate passed a sweeping economic development bill on Wednesday, July 25th boosting support for Massachusetts startups and entrepreneurs, and authorizing targeted investments in infrastructure and worker retraining.

The bill, S. 2625, An Act relative to economic development in the Commonwealth, authorizes $75 million in competitive grants for technical education and workforce training programs and $200 million in bonds to the MassWorks Infrastructure Program that will support thousands of jobs in economic development and community revitalization projects.

The technical education grants will provide funding for new lab equipment in classrooms across the state, allowing for new programs in robotics and other high-tech vocational fields. The bill also invests in the state’s cultural economy, promoting the arts and tourism industries.

“This economic development bill makes targeted investments to support our workers, foster innovation, and revitalize our communities,” said Senator Joan B. Lovely (D-Salem). “I am pleased that the bill the Senate passed yesterday provides more than $11 million for important projects in Beverly, Danvers, Peabody, Salem, and Topsfield. The ultimate authorization of these bond funds would support vital capital projects that would greatly benefit residents of and visitors to the North Shore.”

Senator Lovely filed ten amendments to fund local projects throughout the 2nd Essex District that the Senate adopted:

  • $500,000 to fund construction of pedestrian, bicycle and traffic improvements in downtown Topsfield to be ADA compliant
  • $75,000 to increase capacity at the North Shore InnoVentures biotech incubator at the Life Sciences Consortium of the North Shore
  • $250,000 for Danvers to design and build streetscape and civic space improvements to enhance its downtown
  • $200,000 to fund design work to create an east-west rail trail linking downtown Danvers to Middleton Center
  • $1.2 million to fund the renovation of St. Paul’s Church in Peabody to serve as a Children’s Museum
  • $350,000 for the redesign of roadways in the Pulaski Mills in Peabody to accommodate increased traffic
  • $150,000 for welcome signs in Peabody
  • $5 million to allow Salem to expand its cruise terminal and to upgrade its passenger disembarkation system
  • $1.5 million to restore the barracks building and hangar on Winter Island in Salem
  • $2.5 million to fund the revitalization of Cabot Street in downtown Beverly

“This bill enacts strong worker’s and consumer protections that are essential in today’s modern economy,” said Senate President Harriette L. Chandler (D-Worcester). “Additionally, this legislation will support economic growth across the Commonwealth and benefits workers and their families for generations to come.”

“I am proud of the Senate’s commitment to nurturing our economy. With this legislation, Massachusetts is taking steps to maintain our economic strength, encourage innovation and entrepreneurship, and allow for more people to participate in and benefit from our dynamic economy,” said Sen. Karen E. Spilka (D-Ashland), the Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means.

“Far too many families are struggling to make ends meet, working longer hours while wages remain the same. This bill is designed to rebalance the scale to ensure our economy works for everyone and fosters growth in every corner of our Commonwealth. Through targeted infrastructure development grants, small business loans and job training programs for unemployed workers, we can revitalize our cities and towns and give our workers a head start in the competition for the jobs of the future,” said Sen. Eric P. Lesser (D-Longmeadow), Senate Chair of the Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies and lead sponsor of the bill. “By reforming our non-compete laws, and enforcing a ban on patent trolling, we are also empowering workers and protecting entrepreneurs in Massachusetts — two necessary measures if we hope to compete with the likes of Silicon Valley and other tech hubs in the global economy.”

The bill also reforms the state’s non-compete laws, establishing conditions on the enforcement of noncompetition agreements that will improve worker mobility and free employees to pursue their careers. It also includes new protections for entrepreneurs by enforcing a ban on making bad faith assertions of patent infringement, a practice known as “patent trolling.” Such claims often entangle new small businesses in costly lawsuits that hamper the companies’ productivity and sap their early seed-stage funds.

The bill will now be negotiated with a version passed by the State House of Representatives before going to the Governor’s desk.

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