The Gateway Cities Innovation Institute works to unlock the economic potential of small to mid-size regional cities.

Leveraging MassINC’s research, polling, and policy team, the Institute strengthens connections across communities and helps Gateway City leaders develop and advance a shared policy agenda.

Research Reports

Articles from The Gateway Cities Innovation Institute

At the buzzer, Downing hits a game-changer

The Gateway Cities Journal

Last week Senator Benjamin Downing—outgoing co-chair of the Gateway Cities Legislative Caucus—scored a major departing victory for our cause when he successfully inserted an amendment into the municipal government bill (S 2410) giving regions an option to raise funds locally to pay for regional transportation needs. If this amendment passes in a final bill, it

Entering the fray on education accountability

The Gateway Cities Journal

Recently MassINC convened education leaders from across New England for a dialogue on redesigning state accountability frameworks to comply with the new federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). We’ll be bringing this group together for several dialogues focused on how states should approach accountability with particular attention to Gateway Cities. The arguments are compelling: small-to-midsize

A community conversation on transformative development in Springfield

On June 30th,MassINC joined the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission for a community conversation on transformative development in Springfield. The forum was held at Make-It Springfield, a pop-up makerspace launched with support from MassDevelopment’s TDI program. Managed in partnership with the UMass Design Center in Springfield, the space has revitalized a vacant storefront bringing new energy

Investing in economic development

The Gateway Cities Journal

After several months reviewing the Baker administration’s ambitious $918 million economic development proposal, the House and Senate Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies has come to agreement on a pared-down version of the bill. The proposed legislation cuts back on the overall spending in Governor Baker’s plan by roughly $320 million and shortens

Marilyn Flores and Kevin Zeno

This Week’s Gateway Cities Leaders

Cities are shaped by their citizens. From New Bedford to Pittsfield, passionate young leaders are spearheading innovative efforts to reinvent their communities for a new generation. The Gateway Cities Leaders series profiles their work and introduces their ideas, visions, and aspirations to the wider Gateway City world. Is there a young leader in your city

Press coverage

  • Boston real estate four times as expensive as in Gateway Cities

    On the surface, that seems like a plus for house-hunters and businesses looking to relocate in Gateway Cities — but it actually has negative consequences. The low cost of housing means it is not financially worthwhile for developers to build there, so the cities and their economies are not growing.

    That is one of the key pieces of information included in a new study released by the MassINC think tank called Rebuilding Renewal.

    The study identifies the economic challenges faced by Gateway Cities due to slumping real estate prices. Although Massachusetts already invests disproportionately in Gateway Cities, the study recommends that the state increase its efforts to invest in what MassINC calls “transformative development,” which means building projects that are meant to catalyze other development in the surrounding areas.

    “Urban neighborhoods are attractive to people today… On the other hand, these neighborhoods aren’t improving the way we would like them to,” said Ben Forman, research director for MassINC.

    Read More…

  • Boston real estate boom not giving boost to cities like New Bedford

    “It’s really striking that Massachusetts spent more on courthouses in Gateway Cities than on housing or economic development,” said Benjamin Forman, research director at MassInc. “We need to approach every single dollar spent in these cities by thinking how can this dollar create more growth block by block.”

    Read More…

  • Sheriffs Michael Ashe, Frank Cousins laud opioid bill at MassINC criminal justice conference

    BOSTON — In remarks at a conference on criminal justice reform at UMass Boston Friday, two retiring Massachusetts sheriffs with a combined 62 years of experience praised a state law passed this week to fight opioid addiction.

    “As you look at the opiate crisis, it’s a medical issue, it’s a public health issue. It’s not a criminal justice issue, where we’re putting people who are obviously addicted, compounding it by putting the criminal justice system on their backs,” said Hampden County Sheriff Michael Ashe. “It’s quite a cross.”

    Ashe, who has been sheriff since 1974, and Essex County Sheriff Frank Cousins, who has been sheriff since 1996, were the keynote speakers at the annual conference, organized by Boston-based policy group MassINC. The sheriffs discussed the importance of addressing drug addiction and other needs that inmates have before they can successfully return to society.

    Read more…

  • Mass. probation chief: State ‘over-criminalizing people’

    BOSTON — Responsible for monitoring nearly 90,000 individuals, the Bay State’s probation chief recently warned against overly strict supervision, saying he wants to focus on cases with the highest risk of failure.

    “The system’s sort of like a machine — it pulls you in, and we monitor your behavior, and we document every time you’re late,” Probation Commissioner Ed Dolan said during a recent panel discussion. “There’s a danger of sort of over-criminalizing people.”

    Probation officers keep tabs on defendants ahead of their trial and after conviction at the order of a judge — sometimes tracking their location around the clock.

    Begun in 2001 and expanded since then, the electronic monitoring of probationers now includes 2,391 offenders whose locations are tracked via satellite and 479 who wear bracelets reporting whether they are at home. Dolan said there is too much electronic monitoring.

    “In many cases, we’re over-conditioning people, over-supervising,” Dolan said at the panel organized by the think tank MassINC. “I have 3,000 people on GPS today. I really don’t think 3,000 people need to be on GPS today. I think we’re sort of over-using that resource in a lot of ways.”

    Read More…

  • Sen. Warren calls for federal help with public ed in Clark speech

    U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren gave Clark University’s annual Lee Gurel lecture on Monday at the university immediately preceding a symposium focusing on urban education and federal law, and the nationally-known Democratic politician drew applause and amens from a crowd eager to hear her plans on improving urban education.

    The talk was co-sponsored by Clark and MassINC, and the speakers who introduced Warren spent some time talking about Worcester as a “gateway city,” with some needs and areas to improve, especially around education.

    Read More…

Gateway cities

Why support massinc?

  • We enjoy what we do.

    Whether it’s planning events, conducting research, or analyzing the news, our team works on projects that we’re passionate about.
  • We develop leaders.

    Former MassINC employees have gone on to work at reputable organizations like Harvard University, Boston University, City Year, EnerNOC, and Governor Baker’s office.  
  • We stick with it.

    Our work on transformative development, which uses public and private funding for projects to revitalize an entire downtown or urban neighbor­hood, began as Policy Center research report in 2013. A year later, the state legislature passed a bill funding transformative development projects across Massachusetts.
  • We are nonpartisan.

    Our Board of Directors includes prominent Massachusetts Democrats and Republicans. We are interested people’s ideas, not which side of the aisle they sit on.
  • We have a complete toolbox.

    We aren’t just a think tank. We bring nonpartisan research, civic engagement, journalism, and independent polling together under one roof.
  • We have state-wide reach.

    We know that Beacon Hill isn’t the only place to make progress. We’re on the ground in cities across the state working with local leaders.
  • We have unique networks.

    We use our connections to bring together a cross-section of diverse leaders to solve problems. Our networks include mayors, economic development directors, superintendents, business people, newspaper editors, arts leaders, and regional transit officials.  

Explore research reports

@GatewayCities

  • MassINC is a key partner to the Boston Foundation, and all of us who are seeking to advance the regional conversation around economic opportunity and a strong quality of life for all.  MassINC's robust, nonpartisan research is exactly what our citizens and leaders need to make good decisions.
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    Paul Grogan President of The Boston Foundation

  • I watch my inbox for CommonWealth magazine’s Daily Download. I can count on the newsletter to tell me succinctly what’s happening in politics and public policy. The magazine itself always delivers in-depth news, analysis and commentary. It's simply outstanding, quality journalism. I am happy to support unbiased reporting through my participation in Citizens Circle.

    Helen Chin Schlichte
    Former Public Administrator; President Emeritus, South Cove Manor at Quincy Point

  • MassINC's long-term dedication to Gateway Cities makes them a valuable resource to all of our communities. They are a true thought partner. They go the distance to help others appreciate our unique opportunities, needs, and perspectives.
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    Tim McGourthy Executive Director of the Worcester Regional Research Bureau

  • MassINC serves as a credible, thoughtful resource for all of us who are invested in the future of the Commonwealth. Its emphasis on careful analysis that is grounded in data, research, and polling makes an important contribution to and helps elevate the conversation about the challenges and opportunities facing the region.
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    Trevor PollackManager of Special Projects for the Barr Foundation

  • The potential of Massachusetts’ Gateway Cities is limitless. MassINC’s dedicated work in promoting these cities has been, and will continue to be, instrumental in their individual and collective success.
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    Jay Ash
    Massachusetts Secretary of Housing and Economic Development and former chair of the Gateway Cities Innovation Institute

  • MassINC has always provided research showing the detrimental impact of the state’s unforgiving criminal justice system on our communities. Their polling confirmed that the public understood the need for change in our system. That criminal justice reform is at the forefront of bipartisan local and national debates today is in no small measure due to MassINC’s persistent and fair commitment to the issue.
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    Juliette Kayyem Faculty Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, Founder Kayyem Solutions LLC

  • Through my partnership with MassINC, the Building On What Works Coalition is working to unite a diverse collection of civic leaders around an urgent call to encourage the state to act on the progress that has been made ensuring all children in Massachusetts have a true chance to succeed in the state’s economy. MassINC’s research and commitment to data driven public policy are helping to give the children of Massachusetts a better education.
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    Kim Driscoll Mayor of Salem

  • MassINC's work with the Gateway Cities is unmatched. As Eastern Bank strives to help businesses in these communities thrive, MassINC has been a tremendous partner, providing data-driven research and affirming that these cities are full of opportunities.
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    Bob Rivers Eastern Bank President and COO

  • When MassINC speaks, it’s well worth listening. After all, the nonpartisan think tank has established itself as a thoughtful, careful, credible voice on public policy in Massachusetts.
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    Scot Lehigh Boston Globe Op-Ed Columnist

  • Few organizations in the country have better understood the important role of governance reform and accountability in education policy and economic development than MassINC.
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    Bruce Katz Vice President and Founding Director of the Metropolitan Policy Program at The Brookings Institution

  • [MassINC's] understanding of the complexity of the challenges facing the state’s older cities, its belief in the opportunities that present themselves in those communities, and its advocacy of the role that public higher education can and should play in them, has added to the understanding that policy makers need to have as they move our state toward the future.
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    Jean MacCormack

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

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