Ben Forman Research Director, MassINC

Benjamin Forman is MassINC’s research director. He coordinates the development of the organization’s research agenda and oversees production of research reports. Ben has authored a number of MassINC publications and he speaks frequently to organizations and media across Massachusetts. With a background in urban revitalization and sustainable growth and development, he is uniquely suited to the organization’s focus on strong communities and economic security.

Prior to joining MassINC in 2008, Ben oversaw strategic planning for the District of Columbia Department of Parks and Recreation, a large agency providing critical services to youth and families in neighborhoods throughout the city. He also worked as a research assistant at the Brookings Institution Metropolitan Policy Program in Washington, DC and Nathan Associates, a global economic development consulting firm.

As a graduate student, Ben was awarded a Rappaport Public Policy Fellowship and served in the City of New Bedford’s planning department. He also worked as a graduate research assistant on a multi-year longitudinal analysis measuring the impact of new information technologies on neighborhood social networks.

Ben graduated from Trinity College, Hartford in 1999 with a bachelor’s degree in economics. In 2004, he completed his master’s degree in city planning at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He lives in Boston with his wife Anne and two daughters, Eloise and Cecily.

ARTICLES By Ben Forman

New data shows Early College is delivering as promised for Massachusetts

Massachusetts’ Early College initiative is quietly establishing a new standard for rigorously evaluating a strategic effort that aspires to increase educational outcomes for students across the state. This research brief sheds light on this evaluation framework and the impressive performance that the methods reveal to date. We then surface unanswered research questions and evaluation challenges

A Gateway Cities Strategy for the Healey–Driscoll Administration

Transition Briefing Memorandum

Governor Healey takes office at a pivotal moment. State government must deploy a deluge of federal resources from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL), and the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). The mandate to leverage this unprecedented investment to combat the commonwealth’s two most existential threats—climate change and rising inequality—has never

Social Infrastructure: Towards More Walkable, Resilient, and Inclusive Gateway Cities

This report looks at how the built environment supports social interaction and the formation of social capital. We measure the “social infrastructure” provided by active streetscapes, ground-floor establishments, civic spaces and institutions, and public transportation in five Gateway City downtowns. Our analysis draws on information collected from walk audits, which were conducted in partnership with

State laws to blame for lack of minority contracting

Ben Forman featured in CommonWealth Magazine

August 23, 2022 IN THE EARLY DAYS of the pandemic, the Paycheck Protection Program offered a crucial lifeline for millions of suddenly desperate businesses. Yet as banks doled out nearly $1 trillion in PPP money, minority-owned businesses were at the back of the line. It was a glaring example of how even the most well-intentioned public

Empowering Cities to Accelerate Equitable Growth

A State Policy Blueprint for Inclusive Municipal Contracting

Prepared in partnership with Lawyers for Civil Rights, this study surveys the landscape for inclusive municipal procurement in Massachusetts. The analysis reveals large racial and ethnic disparities in public contracting and surfaces changes in state law that will empower cities to implement effective supplier diversity policies. Building on a 2021 MassINC report highlighting the economic imperative to support

Connecting Communities through Digital Equity

An Action Plan for State, Community, and Private and Institutional Partners

The COVID-19 pandemic brought much-needed attention to the digital divide and its profound implications for social and economic opportunity in our commonwealth. Across a range of sectors, public and private, leaders committed to addressing this challenge once and for all. Massachusetts has made progress over the past two years, but considerable work remains. Fortunately, leaders

Sizing Up Massachusetts’ Looming Skilled-Worker Shortage

In an extensive 2014 report with the UMass Donahue Institute, MassINC predicted the 2020’s would be the first decade in Massachusetts history to post a reduction in the state’s working-age, college-educated population. Drawing on the limited data available, this research brief explores how the COVID-19 pandemic disruption could impact our previous estimate. The analysis surfaces

Investing in Success

Findings From a Cost–Benefit Analysis of Massachusetts Community Colleges

Building on 2021 MassINC research, this new report provides a rigorous and comprehensive cost-benefit analysis of Massachusetts community colleges. The findings document large returns to students who graduate with certificates or degrees. While taxpayers also realize substantial fiscal benefits on a per-degree basis, low graduation rates mean returns on state expenditure are minimal in the

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