The following is a letter to the editor from State Representative Jim Arciero (D-Westford). To submit your own letter, e-mail the editor at [email protected]
The emerging technology sector is critical to today’s economy and our region is home to some of the most innovative tech companies in Massachusetts, including Kronos in Chelmsford, Red Hat in Westford and the IBM Mass Lab in Littleton, the company’s largest software lab in North America.
The growth and expansion of these companies and other businesses create high wage jobs and bring important tax revenue to our local communities. But in order for these companies to succeed, they need the necessary tools to remain competitive in the ever changing global economy.
Government can play a major role in helping businesses grow by creating a collaborative business environment in which public and private partnerships can be forged. One very important area of cooperation is providing the necessary transportation and infrastructure investments to accommodate business expansion and increasing workforces.
As State Representative, I have worked closely with local businesses to secure the critical funding and infrastructure needed to support the growth and expansion of these companies in our area. For example, I have supported several important projects to advance these public-private partnerships, including:
– Expansion of the Littleton/Fitchburg commuter rail line to create for the first time a realistic and efficient commute both into and out of the region. This involved an expansion of the train schedules, as well as upgrades to the train track infrastructure.
-Construction of a new MBTA Commuter Rail Station in Littleton with hundreds of new parking spaces.
-Improvements to Route 119 in Littleton to accommodate the increased traffic associated with and the expansion of high tech firms in the area and the opening of the new lifestyle mall known as “The Point.”
-Improvements to Route 110 in Westford to accommodate the expansion of high tech firms in Westford and increased traffic associated with the Cornerstone Square retail development.
-The revitalization of the Chelmsford Center Village, the town’s downtown commercial area, to ease access for both pedestrians and motorists to and from local businesses.
-Traffic and public safety improvements on Route 3A in Chelmsford to accommodate Kronos, the largest employer in the town of Chelmsford, in their expansion.
A second area of cooperation is targeted tax credits and grants which provide incentives for the retention and expansion of new high wage jobs. In the last six years, I supported efforts to secure tax credits for Red Hat and UTC Aerospace Systems. As a result, Red Hat has kept 233 jobs from leaving the state, expanded their facility and is adding an additional 200 high wage positions. UTC Aerospace retained 344 jobs in the district and will create another 180 positions. A public safety improvement grant in Chelmsford led to Kronos remaining in our state, keeping 1,048 jobs here and investing $7 million into the expansion of their facility.
Last summer, I organized several district-wide tours of high tech businesses to highlight both the successes of current private-public partnerships and to establish an ongoing conversation with these firms about potential future economic development.
Bringing together individuals from government, business and institutions of higher education for the tour, we were able to establish a dialogue on business needs and the role each of us can play in the process. Fostering an environment conducive to economic expansion and job creation is critical to future economic progress, as is providing for the necessary education, training and skills for the new workforce. Public-private partnerships have been crucial to recent economic expansion and job creation in our region and I believe offer a solid and effective blueprint for continued economic growth and opportunity.