Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Economic Prosperity for All?

Today, Lynne and I had Ben Forman on our LeftAhead podcast. It was a great show. I think one of the things that becomes clear is that while Greater Boston, especially the 128 bubble, has seen a large amount of economic growth over the past few decades -- it hasn't been shared by all. That's lead to a large disparity. One of the key things that made Massachusetts great in the past was the fact that we had large parts of the state where there was economic opportunity to find a good job and join the middle class. Most of those jobs are gone. In some parts of the state, new sectors emerged and continued to offer people in some communities the same opportunity. In the 11 cities MassINC identifies as Gateways, they haven't recovered with new, emerging fields like we've seen inside 128.

That can, of course, be changed -- maybe not with the same kinds of jobs, led by giant factories, employing thousands, but by hundreds of small businesses, employing dozens -- the bulk of which, according to Ben, would be in the business and service sector. We need to start better servicing those living in these communities, as well as work on the PR side to help lure more people to these communities -- and retain them. Speaking from experience, New Bedford was a cool place to live. Lynne loves living in Lowell. These are awesome communities that people should think about when they're considering where to open their small business or buy/rent their home/condo. With so many affordable units in great locations, these are the perfect places to locate -- inexpensive, plenty of talented people eager for jobs, decent public transportation, affordable housing and often very artsy, diverse cultural cuisines and scenes. With more small businesses moving in these communities, they can and will drive our state to a level of success for the Commonwealth I haven't seen in my lifetime -- because we won't be leaving certain parts of the state behind.


truthtopower said...

Great post, Ryan.

Having improved rail access throughout the Commonwealth might make your vision more likely.

Anonymous said...

That's why many of us west of 495 are so sour on state government. Little comes our way.

Anonymous said...

The view from Beacon Hill assumes whatever is good for inside 128 must be good for the whole state. Deval just rejected a pair of home rule petitions by Worcester which would have saved Worc 6.5 million. Worc tends to be more fiscally conservative and is now being penalized, because Boston knows best. Check it out at Telegram.com, under "chained to Boston" home rule petitions shot down. Now you know why those of us in the hinterlands distrust Boston.

Ryan said...

5:06am - I don't think little comes your way proportionately. The problems is we don't give state government enough resources to go around and, combined with the fact that we don't generally have long and medium term plans for the state, we're not even seeing the resources we do spend be spent as effectively as they could. What we need is to create ways in which we enable politicians to think beyond their next election.

8:30am -- found the article you were referring to. While the article targets the Patrick admin in particular, it doesn't say much about where the legislature was with it. Home Rule petitions must go through the legislature - did this one pass?

I will say that I think this state should largely do away with home rule petitions. The term actually does the opposite of what it sounds, making it harder for localities to do what they'd want. I fully believe that cities and towns know what they're doing inside their own borders more than the state and should generally be allowed to do what they need to, without begging the state for permission. It's very paternalistic and has hurt many cities and towns, especially when they're represented by poor and/or petty legislative leaders.

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