For those of us who believe strongly in the value of a great educational system, it’s simply academic. Investing strongly in education on all levels will boost your economy. The overall brain-power in your community, your state, and your region will inevitably impact economic opportunity – through a talented workforce and innovation. However, the concept is truly put to the test in an economic crisis. If the recovery from the great recession was a final exam, Massachusetts passed with flying colors.
As his time in the commonwealth’s corner office winds down, Gov. Deval Patrick has clearly shifted into overdrive to accomplish all he can in his final months in office. Appearing on Good Morning Pittsfield, Patrick said the strategy to facilitate the recovery and growth has been straightforward and effective. Yes, we took our hits during the recession, but Massachusetts has come out of it with the fastest job-growth in the nation. Gov. Patrick attributes it to investment in education (pre-K through higher education), innovation and infrastructure.
Education: Massachusetts’ reputation as a home of some of the world’s most prestigious colleges and universities is secure. However, it’s more than Harvard and MIT driving the economy. Massachusetts has done better because of a recognition that a well-trained workforce is a critical component in building a foundation for job growth. In a competitive economy, growing businesses will naturally be drawn to areas with a qualified worker base. Through formal relationships between the business community, particularly in the life sciences and advanced (or precision) manufacturing, community colleges and secondary schools, Massachusetts has helped reduce training and recruiting costs for businesses here by developing a pipeline of workers with the necessary skills to fill positions in the field. An example of this in the Berkshires is the Berkshire Applied Technology Council that has put leaders in education and business at the table to align educational programming (particularly in STEM education) with the skills needed by local employers.
Innovation: Brain-power encourages innovation. Innovation means new ideas, new companies and more jobs. The commonwealth has invested nearly $10 million in Pittsfield’s William Stanley Business Park through the life sciences council. Pittsfield waited for some time to actually secure these dollars. The reason it took so long is that the state was looking for a real plan to spur innovation in a viable market. It wasn’t going to simply deliver an earmark to build a nice new facility – or provide the sizzle without the steak. Instead, the site will be a resource for advanced manufacturing firms in the Berkshires to carve out a niche particularly in the growing medical device industry.
Infrastructure: After the Big Dig sucked up federal and state road construction dollars for years and years, we had a lot of catching up to do. This was the case especially in the Berkshires. Again, as other state’s were scaling back and making cuts, Massachusetts strategically invested to keep construction companies going and countless others employed through public projects.
While the toxic partisan atmosphere in Washington has often paralyzed a progressive agenda. Success in Massachusetts has included bipartisan support of investment in education. While the Republicans on Beacon Hill are now fewer and farther between, the ones that are there have recognized how we’ve outpaced our peers and have shown the way. This has been, in part, possible because of the positive tone set by Patrick who has always said that there are no Democratic or Republican ideas, only good ideas and not so good ideas – and he’s open to exploring good ideas no matter where they originate.
President of OneEighty Media, Inc., John Krol serves as Director of Accounts and lead communications consultant for this full-service marketing, communications and advertising firm. John’s extensive experience in journalism, broadcasting, public relations, government relations, health care marketing and community outreach provides a unique perspective for businesses looking to re-energize and diversify their marketing efforts. He is also a city councilor in Pittsfield, Massachusetts and the host of Good Morning Pittsfield.