STATE SENATE PASSES SWEEPING ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT BILL BOOSTING SUPPORT FOR SMALL BUSINESSES, WORKERS AND INFRASTRUCTURE PROJECTS

The bill, S. 2625 An Act relative to economic development in the Commonwealth, authorizes $75 million in competitive grants for technical education and workforce training programs and $200 million in bonds to the MassWorks Infrastructure Program that will support thousands of jobs in economic development and community revitalization projects.

 

The technical education grants will provide funding for new lab equipment in classrooms across the state, allowing for new programs in robotics and other high-tech vocational fields. The bill also invests in the state’s cultural economy, promoting the arts and tourism industries.

 

“This bill provides significant investment into communities throughout the commonwealth,” said Senator James T. Welch (D-West Springfield). “These investments include funding for large scale revitalization projects and smaller scale community upgrades. Each dollar represents a commitment from the senate to provide our cities, towns, and residents with the tools they need to contribute to the economic growth of our state.”

 

Amendments offered by Senator Welch that were voted into the final bill include:

 

·         Language creating a commission to plan, develop, and implement strategies to support and promote minority-owned real estate and financial services organizations in the commonwealth

·         $4,000,000 for Way Finders, Inc. in Springfield

·         $4,000,000 for revitalization efforts in Indian Orchard

·         $3,900,000 for revitalization efforts in West Springfield

·         $3,000,000 for upgrades to the Springfield Sciences Museum

·         $500,000 for equipment repairs and upgrades for the Lower Pioneer Valley Educational Collaborative

·         $100,000 to mitigate any costs associated with the redesign and redevelopment of the intersection at Carew and Cass Street in Springfield

 

The bill also reforms the State’s non-compete laws, establishing conditions on the enforcement of noncompetition agreements that will improve worker mobility and free employees to pursue their careers. It also includes new protections for entrepreneurs by enforcing a ban on making bad faith assertions of patent infringement, a practice known as “patent trolling.” Such claims often entangle new small businesses in costly lawsuits that hamper the companies’ productivity and sap their early seed-stage funds.

 

The bill will now be negotiated with a version passed by the State House of Representatives before going to the Governor’s desk.