MassINC Matters: The March/April Round-Up

The latest from our research, journalism, and polling

While March and April flew by faster than Marcel Hug’s record-setting Boston Marathon race, our second MassINC Matters newsletter is packed with updates and insights from the past two months. The entries underscore our collective effort to drive positive change across the Commonwealth, including the launch of the Greg Torres Senior Fellows Program, an exciting new initiative for our entire organization. We appreciate your continued support. As always, we welcome feedback, input, and future collaborations.

Policy Center

Greg Torres Senior Fellows Program


On April 9th, we announced the inaugural cohort of Greg Torres Senior Fellows that will help broaden our capacity, impact, and networks across key issues facing the Commonwealth. In recognition of Greg Torres’s visionary leadership and legacy, the five Senior Fellows joining us represent a diversity of lived and professional experiences from various cultural, geographic, and sector backgrounds. The 2024-2026 cohort consists of:

  • Dina FeinRetired judge, Massachusetts Trial Court, Housing Court Department, Western Division
  • Charlotte Golar RichieFormer state representative, former commissioner on the Mass. Commission Against Discrimination, and former senior executive at YouthBuild USA
  • Pema LatshangFounding Executive Director, Teach Western Mass
  • Mary WambuiAsset Manager, Planning Office for Urban Affairs (POUA) and member of the Massachusetts Energy Efficiency Advisory Council
  • Leverett WingPresident and CEO, Commonwealth Seminar
Learn more about each of the Senior Fellows and their planned projects here.


Report Releases

March 13- MassINC released Accelerating Inclusive Growth in the Pioneer Valley. The report is an economic development prospectus for western Massachusetts. Prepared in partnership with Cambridge Econometrics, the analysis calls attention to the region’s competitive advantages in food science, advanced materials, and clean energy.


The report makes the case for targeted state investment in the Pioneer Valley and describes how a dedicated $500 million economic development fund will position the region for success in these sectors.


Past Events

  • Greater New Bedford Housing Summit | New Bedford Whaling Museum  (April 30)


  • Friends of Longitudinal Data Spring Meeting at the Boston Area Research Initiative (BARI) Conference | Boston (April 12)


  • Early College State House Day |   State House (March 21)
Senior Research Associate Elise Rapoza presenting at the Greater New Bedford Housing Summit
  • In Pursuit of Greatness Report Release with Latinos for Education and BU Wheelock Educational Policy Center | State House (February 28)

Summary video

Research Director Ben Forman at the State House Report Release of In Pursuit of Greatness

MassINC in the Media

Pioneer Valley businesses want more state attention — and money

Boston Globe 

Legislation needed to address teacher diversity

CommonWealth Beacon 

Massachusetts’ prison population was nearly halved in under a decade. How?

NBC10 Boston

Western Mass. has untapped economic potential

Boston Globe 

Upcoming Events 📅


  • May 14- MassINC Polling Group Beyond Words: Parent Perceptions on Early Literacy | Register 


  • May 16- MassINC Polling Group Small Business Survey Release @ State House 1-3 PM


  • May 20- CommonWealth Beacon Birthing Justice: Finding a New Way Forward @ GBH Studios 6-7 PM | Register

Gateway Cities Innovation Institute

Legislative Session


MassINC staff continue to support its network of Gateway City municipal leaders in the final stretch of the legislative session ending July 31. Priorities identified include:

  • The Downtown Vitality Act, which would dedicate up to 5% of online sales tax collected by the state to a fund that would invest in local small business districts through district management;
  • Exploring ways to mitigate adverse impacts of new Massachusetts Environmental Protection Act (MEPA) rules that make it more expensive and time-consuming to conduct urban redevelopment activities; and
  • Researching the rules governing renovations and code requirements that may discourage property owners in weaker markets from reinvesting in their properties.

Past Events

  • Downtown Vitality Legislative Briefing with MassCreative, Mass Cultural Council, and the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) | State House (March 26)


  • MassINC & New Gateway City Mayors Introduction | Zoom (March 5)
Andre Leroux, Director of MassINC’s Gateway Hubs Project, testifying in support of the Downtown Vitality Act at the State House on March 26, 2024.
Representative Antonio Cabral, co-chair of the Gateway Cities Legislative Caucus, making a strong case in favor of the Downtown Vitality Act. 

CommonWealth Beacon




The CommonWealth Beacon team took home five awards in March during the annual New England Newspaper Competition, held by the New England Newspaper & Press Association. Executive Editor Michael Jonas earned four total awards, highlighted by two first place finishes for his work covering Arts & Entertainment (read article here) and Government Reporting (read article here). Reporter Jennifer Smith won third place for Best Podcast for her conversation with Nikki Stewart, executive director of Old North Illuminated, on the Codcast episode, “Old North Church grapples with slavery.”


CommonWealth Beacon’s Michael Jonas at the New England Newspaper Competition




CommonWealth Beacon, GBH, and The MassINC Polling Group joined forces earlier this month to produce its latest poll of Massachusetts residents. The collaborative effort covered a wide range of topics from sports betting trends and early stances on ballot questions to climate change views from young people and whether THC products need a closer examination. You can read the complete series in CommonWealth Beacon’s By the Numbers.


Membership Events


CommonWealth Beacon Celebration- On March 12th, CommonWealth Beacon held an event hosted by WilmerHale to celebrate its recent launch. The evening brought together a community of supporters who helped make the launch successful and featured an insightful conversation with Dan Kennedy, co-author (with Ellen Clegg) of the book “What Works in Community News,” about local news trends across the country. Click here to view the photos from the event.


Author Dan Kennedy and CommonWealth Beacon Editor Bruce Mohl

Conversation on MBTA Communities- Gin Dumcius, a reporter for CommonWealth Beacon, moderated a panel on MBTA communities at the Quincy Public Library on March 27th. Attendees listened as Ian Cain, Quincy City Council President, Andrea Harris-Long, Manager of Housing & Neighborhood Development at the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC), and State Rep. Russell E. Holmes of the 6th Suffolk District spoke with Gin in front of a live audience. Together, they discussed the impact of this law on the state’s housing crisis, the ongoing debate among cities and towns about how to proceed, and what the future holds.
(Left to Right) Rep. Russell E. Holmes, Gin Dumcius, Andrea Harris-Long, and Ian Cain

Top CWB Articles 📰

1.    Transportation secretary gives ‘unfiltered’ take on challenges

2. Mass. residents say ‘immigration/migrants’ top issue facing state 

3. The shadowy think tank fighting Boston City Hall

Popular Opinion 📈

1.    Steward has its doctors over a barrel in Optum deal

2. Taking a break from health care

3. One of our major climate challenges is our own trash

Most listened to Codcast Episode
Eng predicts MBTA ridership will bounce back after service improves Listen here


MBTA General Manager Phillip Eng talks to CommonWealth Beacon’s Bruce Mohl about his first year running the T, why he’s optimistic about bringing riders back, and where things stand with train car manufacturer CRRC.

Do you receive The Download, our daily newsletter covering statewide politics and civic life or CommonWealth Voices, our Sunday newsletter featuring opinion pieces from key contributors? If the answer is no, subscribe today to get them delivered to your inbox and consider becoming a member.

The MassINC Polling Group



  • MPG worked with the Boston Museum of Science to survey middle and high school students nationally about climate change. The poll is part of the Museum’s yearlong “Earthshot” programming.


  • MPG crisscrossed the state for events marking the release of the third wave of the Massachusetts small business climate survey. Conducted for the Coalition for an Equitable Economy with support from Mass Growth Capital Corporation and Eastern Bank Foundation, this year’s survey highlight challenges small business are facing hiring new employees and seeking funding to grow their businesses.


  • MPG also continued its long work on transportation issues in the Commonwealth releasing a pair of polls about fare-free bus service at two of the state’s Regional Transit Authorities. A March poll of residents served by WRTA found a majority “strongly support” continuing fare-free service for a record 5th year. And on May 1st, MPG is releasing a poll of residents served by the Southeast Regional Transit Authority, which is currently piloting free fares. The poll found two-thirds support for continuing free fares past the pilot period. Both RTA polls were conducted with support from The Barr Foundation.


  • The Horse Race, co-hosted by MPG president Steve Koczela and CommonWealth Beacon‘s Jenn Smith, marked its 300th episode covering Massachusetts politics and policy in typical irreverent fashion: by taste-testing the Dunkin’ orders of various #mapoli luminaries.



Additional Poll Releases


Past Events

  • Statewide Small Business Survey Launch | Worcester, State House, Springfield (April 23, 24, 25)

Most listened to Horse Race Episode

Episode 298: The Hemp Race Listen here


Jennifer Smith and Steve Koczela get to the bottom of why hemp-based THC seltzers are appearing outside of dispensaries, and why fewer and fewer voters are registered with a party. Meanwhile, Jennifer and Lisa Kashinsky do not get to the bottom of where Maura Healey travels, or why elected officials say the things they do at the St. Patrick’s Day breakfast.

MassINC Polling Group in the Media

Poll: Small businesses in Mass. say it’s hard to hire and get capital” WBUR 
Support for sheltering migrants in Massachusetts falls as crisis worsens” GBH 
Mass. voters believe 2024 election could lead to violence, poll says” MassLive 
Mass. poll finds likely voters lean more to Biden, echoing national trendsGBH 
Latino families are a fast-growing group in Mass. Why are so few able to buy homes?GBH
Poll: 2 in 5 Black Mass. Biz Leaders Rejected for Loans” Banker & Tradesman 
Half of Mass. residents support legalizing teachers’ strikes, poll finds-MassLive
New Survey Shows Jobs Available Across State” News Radio 95 WXTK 
New Poll Highlights Massachusetts Small Business Needs, Living Costs” WBZ News Radio 
Poll finds 50% of Mass. residents favor online lotto amidst scratch ticket sale declineMassLive
Poll: Biden has 18% lead in Massachusetts, voters think election-related violence is likely New England Public Media 
Mass. residents point to immigration as a top concern, split on support of migrants in shelters” 
Two-thirds of Mass. voters are not enrolled with a party. What does that mean for politics?” WBUR 
Poll: Massachusetts residents disappointed, annoyed, angry with President choicesWWLP
Pessimistic, anxious and ambivalent: How Mass. residents are feeling ahead of the 2024 electionGBH

Subscribe to receive our MassINC Matters newsletter straight to your inbox!
Receive a round-up of all recent and upcoming outputs across MassINC: the Policy Center, CommonWealth Beacon , and The MassINC Polling Group. This newsletter features event invites, top news stories, research reports, and the latest polls.

Meet The Author

Our sponsors