All Economies Are Local

A better jobs and growth strategy for towns and cities


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Massachusetts communities can no longer rely on state or federal aid to fill their budget gaps. If communities want to enjoy the benefits of a robust economy, each municipality must become a high performing, self-reliant economic engine operating on four cylinders: residential, business, public sector, and nonprofit. Each cylinder represents an indispensable component of the local and regional economy, employing thousands and fueling millions of dollars of activity through wages, the purchase of goods and services, and payment of taxes.

Governor Deval Patrick’s Economic Development Policy and Strategic Plan, “Choosing to Compete in the 21st Century,” recommends that each municipality needs a “CEO” and team to create and implement an economic development plan for job growth. Towns and cities must learn to take advantage of economic development opportunities and tax revenues. They must understand how to create the optimum number of local jobs, and how municipal metrics determine their economic well-being. They must know their industry clusters, especially which ones are thriving or struggling, and the decision makers at those enterprises who pay business taxes and create jobs. Each municipality must take responsibility for its own economic fate.

Many municipalities are forming economic development corporations or committees to encourage new business establishments, developing supportive customer service policies, and providing predictable regulatory processes that are committed to respecting developers and residents.

TechSandbox, an incubation center for technology and science startups, moved to Hopkinton after selectmen voted to waive building permit fees and explore a special tax deal — the kind of public-private partnership that is key to supporting small business, creating new jobs for the innovation economy, and encouraging growth. Marlborough formed an Economic Development Corporation that works with municipal and private investors to create jobs and community revitalization. Cambridge and Somerville implemented Buy Local First programs to build sustainable local economies and vibrant communities.

To understand how the various components influence our municipal and regional economies, towns and cities can design and implement a three-step process.

Step one: Develop your municipality’s economic profile. Include an appropriate set of metrics, and then track their historical performance. With this information, a municipality can better understand how its local economy works — its strengths, weaknesses, and hidden potential. Examples of these metrics include payroll data from local employers; tax base and rates; commercial land available; office and retail vacancies; school budgets and per-pupil expenditures; housing starts and trends; municipal revenues; cost of living measures; number of employers by sector; job statistics; population trends and demographics.

An excellent source for data relating to economic conditions is Framingham State University’s MetroWest Economic Research Center. MassBenchmarks provides information concerning the performance of and prospects for the state’s economy, which gives a context for a local and regional economy. It’s published by the UMASS Donahue Institute with the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.

Step two: Develop an economic portrait of your primary industry and small business clusters. Include nonprofits and possibilities such as manufacturing, software, medical devices, financial, education, healthcare, information technology, leisure/hospitality, public sector, construction, legal, retail, professional, and business services. That portrait will provide a wealth of information and assist municipal leaders to answer three questions:

1. How do we support businesses and nonprofits?

2. What industries should we strive to retain or attract?

3. Are we too dependent on any particular industry? If so, how might that dependence be a problem or strength for encouraging job growth? Only a diverse business base can help municipalities survive economic storms and capitalize on opportunities during prosperous times.

Within industry clusters, metrics can be highlighted, including number of local employees, top employers, income data, products and services made or provided locally, economic outlook for each sector, and contact information for business and nonprofit leaders. Outreach then becomes possible. The Southborough Economic Development Committee schedules meetings monthly with business and nonprofit leaders to learn how the town can help them prosper.

MIT developed a Community Economic Development Tool Box, where one can view profiles of economic indicators by county and compare the profiles to state and national data. The website, mass.gov/lwd/economic-data/ (click on: other resources/municipal data), as well as municipal tax rolls are good sources for identifying your local businesses.

Step three: Create and communicate your action plan to interested parties. Collect and interpret your municipal financial data and trends. Integrate your economic profile, portrait information, and economic development action plan into the annual municipal budget process. Review of this information can be useful in determining the best opportunities and to plan next steps for job creation and growth.

christopher robbinsThen, explore opportunities to create public-private partnerships to reduce the cost of government, lower residential taxes, and improve the delivery of core services. To succeed, citizen leaders committed to job growth and economic well-being must come forward in each municipality and lead us in a way that will help ensure our fiscal sustainability and quality of life.

Christopher Robbins is a member of the Economic Development Committee of Southborough, on the Board of Directors of Corridor Nine Chamber of Commerce, and past president of the Southborough Business Association. Email: chrisr2346@verizon.net.

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Calendar

August 2019

Saturday 11:00am – 9:00 pm  Sunday 11:00am – 6:00pm This Expo being held in the brand new Mohegan Sun Convention Center will feature over 80 vendors: Mediums, psychics,...

Cost: Free entry

Where:
Mohegan Sun Earth Convention Center
1 Mohegan Sun Boulevard
Uncasville , CT  06382
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Sponsor: The Beyond Center
Telephone: 860-573-5652
Contact Name: Rebecca Anne LoCicero
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August 18–September 27 Learn to overcome spinal tensions through therapeutic postures, designed to decompress your spine and relieve pain. Taught by a certified yoga therapist, this class...

Cost: $50

Where:
Bliss Through Yoga
484 Bedford St
East Bridgewater, MA  02333
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Telephone: 508-331-3564
Contact Name: Janice O'Brien
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August 19–25 With Grammy nominated Snatam Kaur & Prabhu Nam Kaur The radiance of the soul exists as light but is often hidden. To bring forth this radiance we have a gift called the...

Where:
Yoga at the Ashram
Millis, MA


Telephone: 508-376-4525
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Do you wish to get in touch with your inner muse, channel higher guidance or connect with information you do not normally have access to? This group will help you to answer your questions with...

Cost: $25

Where:
Regina’s Connection
22 Main St
Hudson, MA  01749
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Telephone: 978-339-9200
Contact Name: Charlene Anestis
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August 20–21 Find your voice, become the singer you want to be! World famous seminar (www.understandingofmusic.com) teaches beginners through professionals to reach new notes, increase...

Where:
Boston, MA


Telephone: (781) 599-1476
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Join us for our free workshop covering two of the most important issues one faces due to divorce: Building/rebuilding your financial position after divorce or separation Ensuring you have...

Cost: Free

Where:
Skylark Law & Mediation, PC
9 Main Street
Southborough, MA  01772
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Sponsor: Vesta: Redefining Divorce
Telephone: 508-744-6014
Contact Name: Deanna Coyle
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Free summer outdoor yoga sponsored by Mass Development and Dragonfly Wellness Center. Every Wednesday night through August 28th!   Participants must register below and bring a signed...

Cost: Free

Where:
Rogers Field
Devens, MA  01432


Sponsor: Yoga Anita
Telephone: 978-227-8297
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Psychic Spa Summer Tune Up Night! Come detox, relax and renew yourself for the lazy summer days in our sanctuary! We have an intimate gathering of great readers and healers providing services...

Cost: $60: 3 Pack Service Special; $25: Single Service

Where:
The Healing Power of Flowers - Heaven and Earth
68 Stiles Rd
Unit A
Salem, NH  03079
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Sponsor: The Healing Power of Flowers - Heaven and Earth
Telephone: 603-275-7688
Contact Name: Stacey Smith
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Please join us for an evening dedicated to some of the most important issues one faces when going through divorce or separation: how to divide your assets and what to do regarding your marital...

Cost: Free

Where:
Leading Edge Real Estate
2 Mount Vernon Street
Winchester, MA  01890
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Sponsor: Vesta: Redefining Divorce
Telephone: 508-744-6014
Contact Name: Deanna Coyle
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Are you ready to date again? Join us at Vesta: Redefining Divorce's free monthly workshop in Hingham to learn the secrets to have more fun and greater success with dating and relationships. At...

Cost: Free

Where:
Kellem Mahoney Family Law & Mediation Group
100 Recreation Park Drive
Suite 201
Hingham, MA  02043
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Sponsor: Vesta: Redefining Divorce
Telephone: 508-744-6014
Contact Name: Deanna Coyle
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Join Life Coach Cheryl Richardson and her husband, Michael Gerrish, a psychotherapist and gifted intuitive, for a special evening designed to help you upgrade your life! During this event,...

Cost: $35

Where:
Circles of Wisdom
386 Merrimack Street
Suite 1A
Methuen, MA  01844
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Sponsor: Circles of Wisdom
Telephone: 978-474-8010
Contact Name: Cathy Kneeland
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At Elemental Energies with Chris Ann and Jeff Raffle drawings at 5. Vendors, psychics, and crystal dealers; proceeds from vendors and raffles goes to benefit the families of Joe Chamberlin and...

Cost: ​Free admission

Where:
27 N. Berwick Road
Wells, ME
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Telephone: (207) 641-5070
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In difficult times, an ageless ally is still here to help. In indigenous cultures, when the need for community guidance is urgent, such as when a situation of great imbalance exists, there exist...

Cost: $90

Where:
Harvard, MA


Sponsor: Sacred Fire Community
Telephone: 978-226-3993
Contact Name: Chris Griffin
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August 24–25 Saturday 9:30 Registration; 10–5:30  Sunday 10 am–5:30 pm This practitioner training takes place over 2 days and offers students the opportunity to become...

Cost: Course Fee: $450; Recalibration Appointment: $333

Where:
53 Old Bedford Road
Westport, MA
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Telephone: 617-366-6042
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Learn to overcome spinal tensions through therapeutic postures, designed to decompress your spine and relieve pain. Taught by a certified yoga therapist, classes bring you through poses...

Cost: 5/$50

Where:
Bliss Through Yoga
484 Bedford St
East Bridgewater, MA  02333
View map »


Telephone: 508-331-3564
Contact Name: Janice O'Brien
Website »

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