By Colin A. Young
Gov. Charlie Baker, a handful of lawmakers and others in state government met Friday with officials from the Pentagon to highlight the Bay State’s contributions to the Department of Defense.
About 30 defense officials, including the chief information officers from each entity within the department, visited Massachusetts last week to get a sense of the state’s “placement within the innovation and defense economies,” Rep. Harold Naughton said.
“We want these people to know what an integral part Massachusetts plays in that area and to bring more contracts here, more government information and technology development here and to continue to support the corporations that are already here,” he said after a meeting at the State House.
A U.S. Army Reserves major, Naughton recently returned from a deployment to the Middle East.
[Watch: Legislators Describe Meeting With DOD Officials]
Last Thursday, the group from the Pentagon toured MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory, Hanscom Air Force Base, the MITRE Corporation, and participated in a forum to discuss cyber security issues.
“We have the brain power,” said Rep. Jerald Parisella, a veteran of the Army Reserves. “We may not have the natural resources of oil and gas but we have the greatest brainpower in the world, and the folks at DoD can tap into that here in Massachusetts.”
Baker declined to comment on the meeting as he walked to another military-related event Friday, but others who attended said they hope the talks sewed the seed of future collaboration between the Department of Defense and Massachusetts corporations.
“The key here is for Massachusetts to show all the tremendous institutions we have here, both higher ed and medical,” said Sen. Michael Rush, a U.S. Navy Reserve officer. “To have this fluid conversation always going on to highlight the tremendous assets that Massachusetts has is really important to the longevity of the state’s economy.”
According to the Massachusetts High Technology Council’s Defense Technology Initiative, private-sector defense firms and military installations generated a combined $40 billion economic impact in Massachusetts and supported over 175,000 jobs in 2011. Also, defense contract awards to Commonwealth firms and institutions represented 72 percent of all federal contract awards to Massachusetts.