Housing and Economic Development Secretary Jay Ash (left) discusses the administration’s economic development initiatives with Hopedale Selectmen Brian Keyes and Thomas Wesley at MSA Annual Business Meeting, Jan. 20.
Selectmen from across the state gathered at the Annual Business Meeting of the Massachusetts Selectmen’s Association on Jan. 20 to elect a governing board for 2018
and to learn more about the state’s development and housing initiatives.
Housing and Economic Development Secretary Jay Ash and Chrystal Kornegay, the new director of MassHousing and former undersecretary of Housing and Community Development, discussed programs intended to bolster housing in towns of all sizes.
“We are continuing to learn from you what makes your towns and residents special,” Ash said. “We have the heart and the resources to make a difference in your communities.”
Ash discussed the administration’s 2016 recent economic development package, their focus on regional opportunities, and their efforts to revitalize industrial parks and downtowns through grants and technical assistance. He said the administration has made 50 grants to help establish or nurture innovation in smaller towns.
“There are only so many GE’s and Amazons,” Ash said. “The best way to help cities and towns is to help the entrepreneurial spirit that exists in each of them.”
He said the administration is preparing to file another economic development bill, and it’s the governor’s mission to get broadband into the remaining towns in need of connection.
“It is important that all communities have our attention,” Ash said, “regardless of size. Any size investment is important on the local level.”
Kornegay discussed MassWorks, workforce housing, the governor’s Housing Choice Initiative, and the importance of building housing to accommodate the growing “innovation economy” and the “innovation worker.”
She said the Housing Choice program focuses “on the many good things that communities are already doing and how to reward that work and incentivize others to participate in the growth of the economy by doing housing production.”
Kornegay also highlighted the state’s effort to put public land assets into productive use, with 33 projects currently under agreement.
At the start of the program, Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, a former selectman from Shrewsbury, discussed the Community Compact Initiative and the administration’s commitment to help strengthen cities and towns – and, as a result, strengthen the state as a whole.
After hearing from Polito, Ash and Kornegay, selectmen gathered in smaller groups with state officials to learn more about housing programs run by MassWorks, the Housing Choice Initiative, Workforce Housing, and “Open for Business – Commonwealth Real Estate Assets.”