Council In the News Index
Mass. High Tech Leaders React to Loss of Congressional Seat (Mass High Tech)
Boston Business Journal - by Julie M. Donnelly
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Massachusetts technology industry leaders says that the loss of a seat in the House of Representatives puts the state’s enviable position as a federal grant and contract powerhouse at risk.
Massachusetts ranks second only to California in categories like the number of National Institutes of Health grants, and has been steadily gaining against other states in areas like defense. Massachusetts High Tech Council President Chris Anderson said that the state’s gains from defense contracts have tripled in the past five years, and that is partly due to effective representation in Congress.
“It’s going to be pretty critical - the question is, is the effectiveness of the delegation diminished?” Anderson said. “The death of Senator Kennedy changed the landscape here, and now we have these emerging House leaders, and this is another blow.”
Massachusetts is the only state in New England to lose a House member.
“Our competitors in areas like defense are gaining seats - Texas is gaining four, Florida is gaining two, Georgia is gaining one,” Anderson said.
The biotechnology industry has been a big winner when it comes to grabbing a disproportionate share of federal dollars. For instance, more that three hundred Massachusetts life sciences companies received grants through the Qualifying Therapeutic Discovery Grant program, which were awarded this fall as part of the federal stimulus. Only California received more awards.
Bob Coughlin, the President of the industry organization MassBio, wrote in an email, “As the stakes grow higher in this ever-changing global economy, the leading life sciences cluster of Massachusetts is always at risk of losing its competitive edge. One of the main contributing factors to our success in creating jobs in the region and improving lives around the world has been the strength and tenacity of our delegation both individually and collectively. We are certainly concerned losing a congressional seat, which would imperil the state and the future of our industry at a particularly tenuous time.”
The Bay State’s population grew 3.1 percent to 6,547,629 from the 6,349,097 recorded during the 2000 Census, but other states grew at a faster rate and picked up seats in the 435-member U.S. House of Representatives. The state will be forced to create new districts with one fewer Congressional seat, and two sitting Congressmen may have to run against one another.
Anderson said that with a smaller, and potential lower profile delegation, the state will need to increase its collaboration with other New England states to drive government dollars to the region’s high tech sector.