Government Affairs Update
The North Central Massachusetts remains engaged in constant communication with our local, state and federal elected officials. In July, Congressman Jim McGovern and Congresswoman Lori Trahan joined us for the Inside North Central Massachusetts podcast. The two spoke about the American Rescue Plan Act and the proposed infrastructure package. The two are also slated to join the Chamber’s Congressional Luncheon in October. In early August, the US Senate passed a bipartisan $1 trillion-dollar infrastructure bill that included hundreds of billions of dollars for areas including roads and bridges, electrical grid and power infrastructure, broadband investments and water infrastructure.
The Chamber continued to advocate for economic development and workforce development throughout the state budget negotiations. The Chamber was part of joint letters sent out to Beacon Hill from the Massachusetts Business Coalition on Skills and Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education that pushed for investment into career technical institutes and the workforce pipeline. That advocacy helped to ensure the inclusion of $15.4 million for career technical institutes, $6 million for dual enrollment and $6 million dollars for regional economic development organizations as part of the Commonwealth’s $48.1 billion-dollar budget. As part of the Massachusetts Coalition for Sustainable Energy, the Chamber was a part of multiple letters sent out to members of the legislature and the Massachusetts Energy Efficiency Advisory Council calling for a measured approach utilizing natural gas as the Commonwealth works to meet the emission reduction timeline laid out by the Governor.
Now that budget discussions have wrapped up, state legislators are focusing on the $5.3 billion dollars the Commonwealth is receiving from Washington D.C. as part of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). Governor Charlie Baker has put forth a plan to spend $2.9 billion dollars of the funds, along with a $1.6 billion-dollar supplemental budget with the House and Senate holding hearings on priorities prior to putting forward their own spending plans. Since the publication of the Chamber’s new One North Central regional economic development plan, we have engaged in active discussions with the region’s delegation, educating them on the strategies contained in the plan, and how ARPA funds could be used to help implement some of the bolder initiatives. The Chamber intends to continue meeting with area leaders and stakeholders in hopes that the One North Central plan can serve as a unifying voice for the region as we seek to help the region navigate economic recovery and serve as a roadmap to advance the region in the coming decades.
In Mid-August, the U.S. Census Bureau released the latest local-level population and demographic data from the 2020 Census. According to the data, Massachusetts population rose to 7.02 million people and saw an increase of 7.4 percent, outpacing the Northeast average of 4.1 percent growth. This growth was enough to ensure that Massachusetts would retain its current levels of representation in Washington D.C. Based on the new data, and population changes, parts of the Commonwealth could see a shake up when it comes to their legislative and Congressional representation once districts are redrawn in the coming months.
The Chamber is continuing to monitor city and town affairs which included Westminster promoting Stephanie Lahtinen to Town Administrator, and Townsend appointing Ross Perry as their Interim Town Administrator. Leominster welcomed Amanda Curtis, a familiar face at the Chamber, as the City’s new Economic Development Coordinator. Shortly after her appointment, Curtis met to discuss the City’s priorities and the One North Central Regional Economic Development Program. With multiple contested municipal elections this Fall, the Chamber is excited to once again host the popular Legislative & Candidates Reception on September 23 at the Chocksett Inn in Sterling.
If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact Travis Condon, the Chamber’s public affairs manager, at (978) 353-7600, ext. 224; or via email at email@example.com .