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WBJ: Spilka Takes Aim At Economic Development

February 9, 2010

By Brandon Butler, Reporter
Worcester Business Journal

State Sen. Karen Spilka, D-Ashland, proposed a reorganization of the state’s business development and marketing offices in broad legislation she filed that aims to foster economic development around the state.

The legislation calls for creating new regional economic development agencies that Spilka said would be a “one-stop shop” for perspective businesses looking to locate in Massachusetts. In addition, the 105-page bill calls for the creation of a new omnibus office that would coordinate marketing efforts for all the state’s business-related quasi-public agencies.

“Being chair of the economic developmen committee I’ve been hearing consistent themes from the business community,” Spilka said. “We need to create a more business-friendly environment in the commonwealth and this legislation will do that.”

Spilka co-sponsored the bill with State Sen. President Therese Murray, D-Plymouth. She said the changes will use money already budgeted and will require no new allocations.

Other portions of the legislation call for:

  • Creating a MetroWest Tourism and Visitors Bureau that would market the MetroWest area for business and travel opportunities and would invest state tourism funds specifically in the region.
  • Condensing the state’s various travel and tourism offices into three offices that would focus on travel and tourism, international trade, and marketing.
  • Mandating that the governor annually file a strategic economic development plan with specific benchmarks and goals.
  • Requiring all public and quasi-public agencies to release annual reports and audits that include their financial standings.
  • Increasing capital for small businesses by using a portion of the state’s pension funds to invest in local businesses.
  • Increasing the amount of a small claims court case from $2,000 to $7,000.
  • Creating commissions to study rising energy costs and another to explore the idea of creating a state-sponsored chartered bank.
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