“Everybody recognizes there is a huge void in the middle-skilled sector of the economy — lab technicians and imaging specialists — that employers in our region are looking for,” he said.
Funding would also be set aside in the bill for the state’s Brownfields Redevelopment Fund, which cities like Lawrence and Salem have used to redevelop old industrial and manufacturing sites that have become polluted.
One of the more controversial aspects of Patrick’s proposal is the “Global Entrepreneur in Residence Program,” which would allow high skilled international students currently in Massachusetts to stay here after graduation if they are starting a new business.
The program, which would be administered by the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, would place selected students who are eligible for H-1B visas but unable to get one due to a federal cap as “entrepreneurs in residence” at public and private institutions.
The governor says he also wants to eliminate non-competition agreements and adopt the Uniform Trade Secrets Act “to promote innovation, job creation and the growth of companies to scale.” That provision is expected to get pushback from high-tech firms that use non-compete contracts to retain employees.
Haverhill Mayor James Fiorentini said he welcomes Patrick’s proposal but also wants more direct investment by the state in cash-strapped cities.
“We are thrilled at the attention being paid to Gateway cities like Haverhill because traditionally all the funding has gone to Boston,” he said. “But we could always use more money.”
Christian M. Wade covers the Massachusetts Statehouse for The Salem News. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What are Gateway cities?
The term Gateway cities was coined in a 2007 MassINC-Brookings Institution report that initially labeled 11 mid-sized urban centers across the state that are struggling regional economic centers. In 2009, the state Legislature officially defined Gateway cities as those with a population greater than 35,000 but less than 250,000 and a median household income, per capita income and educational levels that are below the statewide average.
Here’s the list: