BOSTON (STATE HOUSE) – The Senate on Tuesday voted 37-1 to pass a $76 million economic development package that supporters say will lead to job and economic growth through a focus on new industries and workforce training.
The bill includes the establishment of a “Big Data” innovation and workforce fund, $10 million for an advanced manufacturing and information technology workforce training trust fund, $10 million for “transformative development” in the Bay State’s “Gateway Cities,” $10 million for a brownfields redevelopment fund, $5 million for an international tourism marketing campaign, and $100,000 for an online business portal that would provide a how-to guide for starting a business.
The bill also authorizes bars and restaurants located along MBTA routes to receive extended hours of operation, and hands back to the city of Boston the authority to appoint its licensing board members. Under the bill, Boston would also see 150 new liquor licenses over a three-year period.
“The bill combines investments in emerging industries like advanced manufacturing and Big Data with support for a strong, educated workforce to maintain the Commonwealth’s competitive environment,” Senate President Therese Murray said in a statement.
Murray added, “We are outlining a path to success for our residents by equipping them with the tools and resources necessary to capitalize on our state’s existing and developing industries. Through this bill, we are not only supporting economic development across the state, but also making great strides in our efforts to promote ourselves as leaders in the world economy.”
Sen. Robert Hedlund (R-Weymouth) was the lone no vote against the bill. Hedlund questioned whether the state received a return on investment after passing similar bills lawmakers over the years. Hedlund argued the bill would increase the state bureaucracy, while not doing enough to aid small businesses.
The vote to pass the bill came just before 8 p.m., after Senate lawmakers dispensed with over 200 amendments. House lawmakers passed their version of the economic development package on June 11.