Should Boston host the Olympics? What is the relationship between a Boston business and the New Bedford Port? These and other topics were covered by John Barros’ wide-ranging remarks at MassEcon’s Summer Reception.
John Barros cited three priorities to carry Boston into the next economic era. Boston’s Chief of Economic Development spoke at MassEcon’s July 16 Summer Reception, and these three objectives were the centerpiece of his message. Simply stated, they included:
■ Making Boston a “city for all,” with the appropriate accommodations for all worker demographics,
■ Taking a proactive approach to the city’s skills gap,
■ and adopting a regionally-minded attitude toward economic matters.
These priorities, which are shared by Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, aim to provide Boston with more progressive goals than in the past. And although they may appear abstract, Chief Barros provided attendees with a tangible example of why each priority is so important for the future of the Commonwealth.
The regional mindset is an especially fresh objective, as the Boston economy has previously operated within rigid borders. Chief Barros challenged cities and towns to look outside political boundaries when conducting business. Talent and resources should not be thought of as municipal attributes, but as regional ones.
Barros reflected on a recent experience he had that involved adopting broader business boundaries. One Boston company he spoke to complained that their heavy shipments had to be ported in another state, as the Port of Boston failed to support the size of their imports. By traveling the city and immersing himself in Boston’s economic atmosphere, Barros realized the New Bedford Port would be able to support the company’s shipping needs. Sometimes, as the Chief explained, the answer to our economic problems is closer than we might think. And yet, at the same time, we should not be confined by city limits. Using regions as a resource will be an important goal as the state enters a new era of economics. [USE TWEET]
“‘Can we host the Olympics?’ is not the question we should be asking,” said Barros. He believes the city should instead consider whether the games would help take Boston where it wants to go. If the Olympics can cater to the objectives of the city, they should be welcomed to Boston. Alternately, if the games hinder those priorities, they may not be in the city’s best interest.
Chief Barros also emphasized importance of career readiness as something the Commonwealth must improve. He explained that there must be an understanding between industry leaders and educators as to what is expected of workers in the 21st century global economy. According to Barros, Boston schools must embrace the “STEM” model – science, technology, engineering and math – in order to properly prepare future employees. Barros went on to explain his passion for the arts in schools, saying the model may function even better as “STEAM.”
Preceding the reception was a brief members meeting, in which a mid-year report was presented by MassEcon’s Chairman Fred Mulligan, Executive Director Susan Houston and Senior Director Doug Kehlhem. Mid-year numbers were presented, including the 37 companies supported and 4,000 jobs facilitated by MassEcon in the first six months of 2014. Meeting highlights also included updates on ReadyMass 100, corporate partnerships, and ongoing developments. Introductory planning was also set in place for MassEcon’s 11th Annual Economic Impact Awards that will be held in November. Click here to learn more about the Awards.
We thank all who attended (despite the rain!) for making this a special event, and extend special gratitude to Chief John Barros for his engaging insights and upbeat presence. Our thanks also go out to Nutter McClennen & Fish LLP for sponsoring the event, offering their beautiful facilities in the Seaport District of Boston and providing guests with an impressive spread. A lead article about the event was written for the Boston Business Journal by Jon Chesto, and can be viewed here. Photos of the event can be found on our website and Facebook page.