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.
- Unlocking the economic potential of regional cities.
- Improving the performance of the Massachusetts criminal justice system.
- The Next Generation Accountability Learning Community (NGALC) explores Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) from the perspective of small-to-midsize urban districts.
- MassINC’s multi-year effort to advance strategic state policy for Gateway City growth and renewal
Gateway City Leaders
- Sep 14, 2018
“The answer is to build housing in cities that can absorb thousands of units of housing and move people to and from these cities efficiently on infrastructure that already exists,” said Benjamin Forman, executive director of the MassINC Gateway Cities Innovation Institute and research director at MassINC.
MassINC, a Boston think tank, and The Research Bureau jointly hosted a presentation and discussion Thursday night on MassINC’s recent study “The Promise and Potential of Transformative Transit-Oriented Development in Gateway Cities.
The 84-page report uses data from Springfield, Fitchburg, Lynn and Worcester to examine the impact of focusing development in transit-oriented districts – areas generally within a half-mile of commuter rail stations – in 13 Gateway Cities.
The report finds that land surrounding commuter rail stations in these cities is generally either vacant or underutilized. In Worcester, for instance, the think tank calculates that the neighborhood could absorb roughly 10 million square feet of added development, 23,505 more residents, and 6,698 additional jobs.
- Jun 26, 2018
If you don’t have a car, getting around in western Massachusetts and Connecticut can be tricky. More trains now carry daily passengers between Springfield and Connecticut cities. But the Pioneer Valley Transit Authority is raising bus fares and threatening service cuts. There’s a cycle to this: Low ridership can mean weak economic investment near transit stations. And that means even fewer people ride.
The new study examines this thin four so-called “gateway cities” in Massachusetts: Springfield, Worcester, Lynn and Fitchburg. Ben Forman with MassINC helped to lead the study.
- Jun 18, 2018
According to the study, a dozen factory towns around Boston—including other former shoe towns like Haverhill and Lynn, and former textile cities like Lawrence and Lowell—could accommodate well over a 100 million square of additional development within walking distance of existing transit stations. This is sufficient space to house at least a quarter of the population and employment growth projected for the entire state over the next decade. With Boston hugely expensive and bursting at its seams and suburban communities, like the one where I boarded this train, doing everything in their power to keep growth out, these former mill cities represent long-overlooked housing, commercial, and transit opportunities for the Boston metropolitan area.
- May 27, 2018
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.
- May 22, 2018
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.
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 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.
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.