Economic Development Conference Committee Summary of Major Issues

 Infrastructure

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  • Formalizes the creation of the MassWorks Infrastructure Program, a consolidation of six separate programs that provides communities with one-stop shopping for infrastructure funding that supports economic development and job creation. The consolidation simplifies the process for municipalities and enables the Commonwealth to allocate the funds most efficiently.
  • Creates a new Local Infrastructure Development Program that gives municipalities a new tool for leveraging private funding to finance infrastructure improvements needed to support economic development projects. The program will allow infrastructure projects to move forward without the use of public funding.
  • Makes important changes to the successful I-cubed (Infrastructure Investment Incentive) program by increasing available funding to $325M, increasing the number of projects per municipality from 2 to 3, and requiring that a single community receive no more than 31% of the total funding. Doing so will allow more projects to take advantage of this innovative approach to project financing that has yielded impressive results at Boston’s Fan Pier and Somerville’s Assembly Square.

Innovation Economy

  • Creation of a new $50M Innovation Investment Fund that offers matching grants to research and development projects sponsored by the state’s world-class universities and research institutions. Eligible projects must secure at least $3 for every $1 of state money committed and 50% of the funding is reserved for UMass. This fund will help maintain our competitive edge in the innovation economy and stimulate economic development through projects like the Holyoke Green High Performance Computing Center.
  • Establishes and funds a Talent Pipeline Program that will match, dollar-for-dollar, stipends for interns at technology and innovation start-ups. Massachusetts’ universities educate some of the world’s best students. This program will build connections between that talent pool and in-state early-stage companies, encouraging both to remain in Massachusetts for the long-term.
  • Establishes a Massachusetts Creative Economy Network tasked with creating a mentoring network, developing certification for creative economy businesses and attracting private investment to creative economy businesses.

Growth and Permitting

  • Extends for another two years state and local permits held by any developer who has been unable to proceed with their project because of tight credit markets.
  • Expands Expedited Local Permitting, enabling communities to use the Chapter 43D local option program to promote residential development in addition to commercial and mixed-use development that are currently allowed by law.
  • Increases the annual cap on the state Historic Rehabilitation tax credit from $50M to $60M.
  • Transfers $4M from one-time settlements to the Rainy Fund to go the Smart Growth Housing Trust Fund, which funds incentive payments to communities that pursue dense, transit-oriented development
  • Changes to District Improvement Financing to make the program easier for cities and towns to use, which will in turn provide new options for financing infrastructure, by eliminating the EACC review/approval of DIF districts and development plans.
  • Changes to Business Improvement Districts, allowing for a 5-year renewal process in which businesses can opt-in or out of the BID.
  • Extends Brownfield tax credits for an additional two years (until 2015).

Support for Small Businesses

  • Builds on the commitment to small business by authorizing PRIM invest at least $100M in institutions that make capital available to small businesses and early-stage companies.
  • Creates a Small Business online portal, to make available information on resources available to small businesses and help their businesses grow. Also makes changes to small business loan review boards, requiring they include more formal feedback, including alternative financing programs, for when a business loan is denied.
  • Provides $250,000 for a competitive grant program, to be administered by the Small Business Association of New England, that averts layoffs at manufacturing companies through technical assistance and management consulting.

Workforce Investments

  • Strengthens the Commonwealth’s Advanced Manufacturing agenda, by partnering with stakeholders in the public and private sector in the development and operation of the state manufacturing plan. Also creates a Manufacturing Grant program, run through MassDevelopment, which will promote the advancement of the Commonwealth’s manufacturing agenda through support for small and mid-sized enterprises looking to grow.
  • Provides for a $5M recapitalization the Workforce Competitiveness Trust Fund, with a focus on “middle skill” jobs through collaboration between public educational institutions, workforce investment boards, and local employers. Allows for the creation of Regional Centers of Excellence at community colleges which are aligned with high-growth sectors and regional strengths by leveraging regional resources

Community Investments

  • Creation of a Community Investment Tax Credit program, which seeks to promote long-term public/private partnerships at the community level by providing a process for state-certified Community Development Corporations (CDCs) to apply through a competitive process to receive up to $150,000 in state tax credits for three years. This program will runs as a $1.5M directly-appropriated grant program in FY’13, and then as a $3 M tax credit allocation program in 2014 and $6 M cap in 2015 through 2019. Program sunsets at 2019.

Corporations and Taxes

  • Allows for the formation of Benefit Corporations, or B-Corporations. This provision would allow these corporations to voluntarily hold themselves to high responsibilities in terms of renewable energy and environmentally-friendly business practices.
  • Equalizes quarterly tax payments for corporations by moving from a front-loaded quarterly payment structure to a 25% quarterly payment structure
  • Establishes a tax credit equal to the minimum corporate excise tax of $456 for new corporations in their first three tax years. This credit will aid qualifying corporations would otherwise pay the minimum corporate tax rate.
  • Establishes a Sales Tax Holiday, August 11-12th.

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