The Policy Center builds diverse partnerships to produce rigorous research that frames issues and offers actionable strategies.

We strive to be a vigorous participant in civic debates, hosting and presenting at events, serving on advisory councils, testifying before legislative committees, and providing a sounding board for journalists. Occasionally, we take a leadership role with long-term initiatives like the Gateway Cities Innovation Institute and the Criminal Justice Reform Coalition.

Resources

Gateway City Leaders

Half an ocean away

The MassCJRC Journal

Sir Robin Knox-Johnston was racing east across the Southern ocean two weeks ahead of his nearest competitor when the winds inexplicably turned to face him head-on for 12 consecutive days. It was 1968; he’d been at sea on his own for five months, attempting to win the first solo around the world race. Facing these

Where there’s a will, is there a way?

The Gateway Cities Journal

There exists a very strong will to rebuild our Gateway Cities. This is evident in all of the creative approaches these communities are taking to sow growth and opportunity. But every will needs a way. Because we make it nearly impossible for local governments to generate revenue to invest in themselves (and the federal government

FY 2019 Budget Lends Support to the “Gateway City Fare” Concept

Shows support for more equitable access to public transit

In a show of support for more equitable access to public transit, an outside section of the FY 2019 budget calls on MassDOT to review MBTA commuter rail fares, including an examination of the “fairness of the current distance-based fare system,” which effectively prohibits low-income Gateway City residents from utilizing the service, and also makes

PROVA!

The Gateway Cities Journal

Live musicians strum a diversity of rhythms, local brews pour freely, and people of all ages dance beneath the humid summer sun-this is the vibrant downtown that we’ve long envisioned for the Gateway Cities, and one newly manifested in Brockton. PROVA!, a twice-weekly celebration of Brockton’s rich multicultural heritage through food, drink, and entertainment, is

Please Support Gateway City Legislative Leaders

Your advocacy can make a difference

Dear Friends: In the final days of this Legislative session, two items hang in the balance that have great importance to Gateway City economic development efforts. The first is the Housing Development Incentive Program (HDIP). After years of advocacy by Gateway Cities mayors, this market-rate housing production tool is finally doing exactly what it was

Putting our money where our mouth is

The MassCJRC Journal

With the passage of the FY 2019 state budget last week, leaders in the House and Senate once again signaled their commitment to comprehensive criminal justice reform. The sweeping package passed by the Legislature in April with overwhelming bipartisan support will only payoff if we invest in it. In the first state budget post-reform, lawmakers

End-of-session imperatives

The Gateway Cities Journal

It’s plain and simple: Gateway Cities have substantial capacity to absorb more residents and businesses. With the right policies, the Commonwealth can tap into this sorely needed development potential, and make growth in our state more equitable, sustainable, and fiscally responsible. Without the right policies, growth will continue to evade Gateway Cities, and the Massachusetts

Addressing Potential for TOD in Springfield

NEPR Highlights Transit-Oriented Development Research

Kari Njiri speaks with MassINC’s Ben Forman about the potential of Gateway Cities’ urban development in “Study Examines Potential in Springfield for Mass Transit to Attract Investment,” published today on New England Public Radio. Highlighting the research in MassINC’s most recent report on transit-oriented development (TOD), Forman discusses the history of Gateway Cities and why we

Creative Minds Out Loud

Ben Forman on the economic and social benefits of communities abundant with arts and culture

  In Episode 60 of the podcast “Creative Minds Out Loud,” MassINC research director Ben Forman discusses the economic and social benefits of communities which are abundant with arts and culture. A project of the Mass Cultural Council, the podcast features conversations with cultural leaders and those interested in the promotion of the arts in

Gateway Cities TOD Tour

Stop 2: Lynn

At the historic Lynn Museum, MassINC gathered with local leaders on Monday, June 25th to discuss local findings from “Exploring the Future of Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) in Gateway Cities.” The MassINC team was joined by the Lynn Mayor Tom McGee, Rep. Dan Cahill, Sen. Brendan Crighton, representatives from U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton’s office, and a

Press coverage

  • Editorial: Alternative needed for elderly, sick Mass. inmates

    Ben Forman, research director at the think tank MassINC, says there is also a question of priorities. Letting the perpetrator of a violent crime free a few months early can feel like a violation of social responsibilities to the victims. “But,” he says, “we also have a responsibility to future victims.”

    His argument: There are limited resources in the corrections system, and we should be pouring them into services for younger and potentially more dangerous inmates — making them less likely to re-offend, and victimize new people, when they get out of prison.

    Read More…

  • State should empower regions to re-invest in themselves with regional ballot initiatives

    Ultimately, Regional Ballot Initiatives would save money by helping regional planning agencies, city and town governments, and construction contractors budget and plan for local projects ahead of time, instead of waiting on state or federal funds to decide their fate.

    The initiatives could also encourage growth in our downtowns: a recently released report by MassINC’s Gateway City Innovation Institute identified Regional Ballot Initiatives as a key way to promote transit-oriented economic development in our state’s mid-sized cities.

    When voters are given a choice over raising new revenues, and know exactly where their money will be going, they will fund projects that their communities need.

    Read More…

  • Tarr: Teamwork needed to tame budget cost drivers

    As another effort to generate savings, Spilka said the budget would create a commission to study the costs of prisons and jails and recommend appropriate funding levels for the Department of Correction and sheriffs’ departments. A report released Monday by MassINC found that the number of inmates in state and county correctional facilities dropped 21 percent over the past eight years while correctional budgets increased by nearly 25 percent.

    Read More…

  • Over 8 Years, Mass. Spending On Incarceration Is Up 25 Percent Despite Inmate Numbers Dropping 21 Percent

    Massachusetts prisons and jails hold 5,000 fewer people than they did eight years ago, but spending on those facilities has continued to rise nonetheless.

    That’s according to a research brief out Monday from the think tank MassINC, which advocates for criminal justice reform measures. The findings are an update to the group’s report last year that found correctional spending in the state had increased $181 million over five years, despite fewer inmates.

    Monday’s new figures, MassINC said, mean the trend has continued, and “in fact, the divergence between spending and population is accelerating slightly.”

    Read More

  • Prison spending up as inmate population drops

    “If more dollars were going to provide job training and other services that reduce the likelihood individuals will re-offend when they get out, that would be one thing,” said Ben Forman, MassINC’s research director. “But the money is going to hiring more correctional officers and increasing staff pay.”

    Read More…

MassINC Policy Center

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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

Massinc Videos

@MassINC

  • 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.

    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.

    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.

    Trevor Pollack, Manager 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.

    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.

    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.

    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.

    Bob Rivers Chairman and CEO of Eastern Bank

  • 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.

    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.

    Bruce Katz Former 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.

    Jean MacCormack

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

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