Economic Development, Politics

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker unveils a $500M program to keep its big biotech hub booming

The biotech hub in Boston/Cambridge is booming, and Governor Charlie Baker is advocating a $500 million program for the next five years aimed at keeping the good times rolling.

It’s set up as a successor to former Governor Deval Patrick’s high-profile $1 billion plan, unveiled in 2008, to help spark growth in the life sciences field. Baker is proposing to spend $295 million on infrastructure collaborations in the state, while earmarking $150 million for tax incentives designed to leverage the creation of new jobs.

While catering to political constituencies around the state to make it more palatable to all lawmakers, the governor’s proposal comes after an era of sharp growth centered in Cambridge and rippling through the big Boston metro area. Just this morning a new report on key industry trends from EY highlighted the region’s continued ability to attract billions in investment capital for startups.

Bob Coughlin

Before Deval Patrick came along with his $1 billion plan, the life sciences industry had grown deeply entrenched in the state, building a close relationship between Harvard and MIT and the life sciences businesses like Biogen that got started here. The biotech industry enjoys the role of one of the most favored groups in the state, and local execs lined up to praise the new initiative and the politician who will promote it.

“Vertex calls Massachusetts home because the Commonwealth is the global leader in life sciences, and this legislation, coupled with the Governor’s tremendous support for the industry, will provide the tools necessary to maintain our leadership position,” said Vertex CEO Jeffrey Leiden in a statement.

MassBio chief Bob Coughlin loudly applauded the program, noting:

For Massachusetts residents Governor Baker’s actions mean more high paying jobs in all corners of the state for years to come. For patients of the world, it means more breakthrough cures and treatments will reach them faster.

Economic development programs like these are certainly welcomed with a smile. But states like Florida that tried to ignite their own biotech booms have come away with little to show for it. California’s stem cell program invested billions on the field, but that wave receded without creating much in the way of viable new companies and jobs.

Massachusetts, though, gets to help fuel a fire that’s already burning brightly.


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