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.
- MassINC’s multi-year effort to advance strategic state policy for Gateway City growth and renewal
- The Next Generation Accountability Learning Community (NGALC) explores Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) from the perspective of small-to-midsize urban districts.
- Improving the performance of the Massachusetts criminal justice system.
- Unlocking the economic potential of regional cities.
- Nov 24, 2019
BROCKTON – MassINC is honoring the memory of former Mayor Bill Carpenter with an annual award for leadership.
Nonprofit think thank MassINC held its seventh annual Gateway City Innovation Awards last week, when the group unveiled a new category, named after Carpenter, who died on July 3 during his sixth year in office.
The award is called the “Mayor Bill Carpenter Award for Excellence in Gateway City Leadership,” and each year in the future it will be awarded to an elected official “who seeks out new ideas and works collaboratively to advance them,” thus furthering the interest of their community but also inspiring other “gateway cities” in the process of innovation, according to MassINC. Gateway cities, like Brockton, are defined as mid-sized urban centers throughout the state that face stubborn, longtime economic challenges, often due to the loss of the manufacturing jobs from their industrial pasts.
Carpenter was recognized for his support of transit-oriented development downtown, with several new apartment projects underway around the downtown Commuter Rail station, he was also widely known for gus approach to substance abuse problems in the community, unveiling “The Champions Plan” in 2016 as an option for people to seek treatment for addiction by presenting themselves at the police station.
“Over the course of three terms, he earned acclaim near and far,” said MassINC, in a statement about the Carpenter award. “He was an indispensable partner to MassINC’s Gateway Cities Innovation Institute. We are proud to honor his spirit, intelligence, and sense of duty and hope that this new award will carry it forward by inspiring future leaders.”
How transit-oriented development can help transform struggling urban cores in Massachusetts’ gateway citiesNov 20, 2019
Across Massachusetts, gateway cities like Worcester, Lawrence and Lowell are struggling to deal with a lack of investment over the last three decades.
As experts study how to revitalize these midsize urban cores, one strategy has emerged as a frontrunner — transformative transit-oriented development. Centering on future development in inclusive urban areas, this solution focuses on providing electrified high-frequency regional rail service and better integrating the state’s many regional economies to give residents better access to jobs and other services.
“Today, Americans are realizing first-hand that not only are their housing costs a determinate of their success in life, but also their transportation costs,” Christopher Coes, vice president of Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit Smart Growth America, told attendees at the 7th Annual Gateway Cities Innovation Awards and Summit in Worcester on Wednesday.
- Nov 20, 2019
WORCESTER — Worcester and other Gateway Cities should embrace the opportunity to grow by increasing mobility and stimulating reinvestment with transit-oriented development.
That was the message of the 7th Annual Gateway Cities Innovation Institute Awards and Summit held at the DCU Center on Wednesday. The theme of the event was “Catalyzing Transformative Transit-Oriented Development.”
Keynote speaker Christopher Coes, vice president of land use and development at Smart Growth America, urged several hundred attendees to envision a country in which no matter where or who you are, you can live in a place that’s “healthy, prosperous and resilient.”
Mr. Coes noted that transportation is the second largest expense for U.S. households, with the average household spending 47 percent of its income on housing and transportation. Later, he mentioned that no Massachusetts resident should be spending more than 41 percent on those two expenses.
He spoke in favor of compact, mixed-used development with multimodal access to jobs and neighborhood services. He said such a model reduces spending, relieves congestion, connects people to better jobs, lessens environmental impact and stimulates economic growth.
- Nov 19, 2019
A report last week by MassINC said that, from local government up through the Legislature, the Bay State “is not producing a body of representative leaders equipped to do the work of the entire people.” White male Democrats are “overrepresented” in the Legislature, while the House and Senate count too few members who are women, Asian, African-American or Latino residents of either sex.
None of this comes as a surprise to anyone who has kept an eye on state government for the past, oh, 300 years or so. To reach a gender balance, women would have to pick up the seats of 47 men in the Legislature, which the report says is nearly 25% of all seats.
Republicans have long been in the minority in terms of political party representation. The MassINC study said the GOP would have to pick up 16 seats in the Legislature to match the percentage of voters who identify as Republicans or who lean Republican.
The report said the way the state runs its elections has a lot to do with how women and people of color are underrepresented on Beacon Hill. Massachusetts offers citizens “far more opportunities to vote than other democracies provide,” but this puts more of an onus on people to go to the polls more often, which “reduces turnout and advantages voters with greater means.”
- Nov 13, 2019
EW BEDFORD, Mass. (WPRI) — The two largest cities in Southeastern Massachusetts still have significantly fewer minority residents in elected office than in their broader populations, according to a new study out Wednesday.
The report by the Massachusetts Institute for the New Commonwealth, a Boston-based think tank, looked across the Bay State and found that “the makeup of elected leaders in Massachusetts does not reflect the full diversity of residents by race, ethnicity, gender, and political affiliation.”
People of color make up 35% of residents in New Bedford but only 20% of the Whaling City’s elected officials, according to MassINC, while in Fall River, they make up 21% of residents but only 5% of elected officials.
Explore research reports
- 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, Former 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 Chief Financial Officer, City of Worcester
- 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.
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.
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.