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Council in the News

Government & Regulations • EDITORIAL / OPINION

Editorial: Our economic success needs a strategic vision

Boston Business Journal | December 1, 2022
BBJ Editorial Board

Bold vision for Massachusetts
Downtown Boston Skyline as viewed from Boston Harbor

Three decades ago, the outlook for the Massachusetts economy was strong. The so-called “Massachusetts Miracle” — brought about by growth from our universities and a thriving services economy, and boosted by programs initiated by Gov. Michael Dukakis — resulted in one of the strongest business sectors in the nation. At the time, most workers could still remember unemployment rates of more than 10% in the mid-1970s, but celebrated the fact that unemployment declined to around 3% by the early 1990s, where it’s mostly remained ever since.

That turnaround in the local economy could only happen through the collective vision and efforts shown by those in the business community at that time. In the years since, proactive economic development policies have helped keep the momentum going.

Fast-forward to today, with 30 years of a thriving economy in the rear-view mirror, and most workers can’t remember when Greater Boston was just another American city struggling to adapt to changing times. If we don’t look ahead to the next 30 years — and anticipate what actions we can take now to set up the region for success — there’s no guarantee that the successes we’ve enjoyed will continue.

The Massachusetts High Technology Council, with the help of McKinsey & Co., recently kicked off what they’re calling MassVision2050 with an eye toward doing just the kind of strategic planning the region will require. In a Viewpoint column this weekBob Reynolds, CEO of Putnam Investments, and Navjot Singh, senior partner in McKinsey’s Boston office, say the effort will begin with “a dynamic analysis of how to maintain our leadership in the industries that have enabled us to achieve the innovation and growth that we have to date.”

The need for the state to adapt and not take our recent success for granted can be seen in a report released this past summer from the Massachusetts Taxpayers Association that warns of several threats to our region’s economic momentum. The report delves into how expensive our state has become to both live and do business, from energy costs to housing to child care, and warns that with the fast trend toward remote work over the past few years, workers have far greater flexibility than ever before to live somewhere cheaper yet earn the same high salaries we Bay State residents have come to depend on.

We look forward to the data and insight from experts over the next few months that will come from the MassVision2050 effort, and urge business and political leaders alike to pay attention to the findings so our state can prepare for the coming decades.