BOSTON, Mass. (WWLP) — An economic development bill is advancing through the Legislature and the question on the minds of lawmakers on the Senate Bonding Committee is if itâ€™s a good investment.
â€śAbsolutely,â€ť said Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development Secretary Greg Bialecki, after testifying before the committee. â€śThis yearâ€™s economic development bill, much like the one that was passed in 2010, is not a big money spender.â€ť
The bill was authored by Chicopee representative Joe Wagner and passed the House of Representatives in May. It proposes to invest $50 million in infrastructure improvement and another $10 million in workforce development. For every dollar of state investment toward innovation projects, the bill requires $3 dollars of federal or private investment.
â€śThe stateâ€™s roll in projects like this is secure and thereâ€™s no risk because if we donâ€™t win the federal proposal, the state doesnâ€™t spend a penny,â€ť said Chris Anderson, presidents of the Massachusetts High Technology Council. â€śThereâ€™s no risk to taxpayer money.â€ť
UMass representatives testified that theyâ€™ve been able to generate more than $120 million in federal and private grants from $17 million in state funding. At UMass Amherst, theyâ€™re hoping the new economic development bill will provide more money for several research projects in the works.
â€śCertainly in clean energy, life sciences, advanced manufacturing, nanotechnology, safety and security, cyber security will be a big area going forward,â€ť said UMass Amherst Vice Chancellor for research and engagement Mike Malone.
The economic development bill includes stipends for interns working in high-tech companies and ensures that money invested in infrastructure is returned to the state in the form of tax revenue.
So far no one has publicly testified against the legislation.
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