The Gateway Cities Innovation Institute works to unlock the economic potential of small to mid-size regional cities.

Leveraging MassINC’s research, polling, and policy team, the Institute strengthens connections across communities and helps Gateway City leaders develop and advance a shared policy agenda.

Research Reports

Articles from The Gateway Cities Innovation Institute

You win some, you lose some

The Gateway Cities Journal

In the toughest state budget since the Great Recession, Gateway City leaders coalesced around priorities and eked out a few victories. The workforce development line-items identified by the Gateway Cities legislative caucus early in the year fared particularly well. Connecting Activities, which supports work-based learning experiences for high school students, came out of conference with

Juicing regional economic development by improving labor mobility

A look at Gateway City residents earning the Boston wage premium

A startling percentage of households migrating from Boston to the Gateway Cities are low-income and transit-dependent. For these residents, finding living wage work may now hinge on whether they can make the commute back to Boston. Data from the American Community Survey show that Gateway City residents who are able to find and get to

The push and pull of transit in Boston and the Gateway Cities

A look at gentrification forces on transit-dependent households

The trend of low- and middle-income households being priced out of urban centers with robust public transit networks is a reality in major cities all over the country. Despite its ills, the MBTA system is exceptional, which means Boston is no exception. Migration data from the American Community Survey show that more than one-quarter of

Community Benefit Districts on the table for FY18

New designation would promote collaboration in downtowns, Main Streets

Representative Brendan Crighton and Senator Eileen Donoghue have filed an outside section of the FY18 Budget, currently in Conference Committee, that would create Community Benefit Districts (CBDs) as an alternative to Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) for communities across the Commonwealth. CBDs are designed to support downtowns, cultural districts, historic areas, and Main Streets that require

Locally accountable for education-led renewal

The Gateway Cities Journal

The fate of our Gateway Cities lies in their schools. From growing a skilled workforce to maintaining healthy neighborhoods, public education will be the deciding factor. Significant progress has been made, but a lot more needs to happen to put these school systems in a stronger position to drive economic growth and renewal. Some of

Looking for a Transformative Transit-Oriented Development paradigm

View the Boston skyline from afar and you can pick out transit stops from the cranes poking out above active construction sites. TOD is occurring all over the city. This development has been fueled by relatively strong regional population and employment growth, high-frequency transit service, and perhaps most importantly, consumers with a preference for walkable

Haverhill Education Coalition working to promote excellence

New organization shows the promise of local accountability initiatives

The Haverhill Education Coalition is the latest example of grassroots leadership emerging in a Gateway City to support public education. Founded in February to help promote and advance high-quality education in Haverhill, the coalition seeks to “increase parent and citizen engagement in the public schools, increase transparency of school data and information, promote higher standards

Bending the business as usual growth curve

Leveraging existing transit assets

Massachusetts is projected to add more than a half million new residents over the next two decades. Where these new residents settle will have important consequences for quality of life, the environment, economic growth, and access to opportunity. How we grow will also have critical implications for the fiscal health of state and local governments.

Ideas without data are just hallucinations

The Gateway Cities Journal

For a decade now, we’ve been playing up the untapped potential of Gateway Cities. Their tight street grids and existing transportation infrastructure have been one of our frequent talking points. With added emphasis, we always note that this fabric is not just an opportunity for Gateway Cities, but for the entire state. At a time

Senate budget lacks funds for TDI

Other Gateway City priorities get a boost

Last week, the Senate released its fiscal year 2018 Ways and Means Budget recommendation. The Senate proved to be a leader on line items supported by the Gateway Cities Legislative Caucus, including Regional Transit Authorities, dual enrollment, Community College workforce grants, and adult basic education. However, there was one notable absences. The Senate budget proposal did

Press coverage

  • Your View: MassINC — Regeneration Project understands New Bedford education

    The Regeneration Project — a group of community leaders convened by the New Bedford Economic Development Council — deserves recognition for raising awareness that the city’s fortunes lie in the fate of its public schools (“Our View: Statehouse must boost its support for education,” May 24). Whether it’s growing a skilled workforce or maintaining healthy neighborhoods, nothing is more essential in today’s economy for regional urban centers like New Bedford.

    It’s especially notable that these leaders have the courage to acknowledge that New Bedford’s public schools are simply not going to meet the needs of their students without additional resources. This sound judgment is backed by an independent commission formed by the Legislature two years ago to look at whether schools in Massachusetts have the funding they need.

    Read more…

  • EDITORIAL: Cut the waste before enacting new tax schemes

    As for efficiencies, one likely candidate appears to be the state’s correctional system, where a 12 percent drop in the inmate population since 2011 hasn’t been offset with a similar decrease in spending. Rather, it’s increased 18 percent over the same period. Those contradictory figures were the subject of a forum earlier in the week by MassINC and the Massachusetts Criminal Justice Reform Coalition.

    Read more…

  • Aim prison budgets at rehabilitation

    THERE IS A LOT of talk in Massachusetts about moving away from the misguided “tough-on-crime” policies of the 1990s and instead embracing a more rehabilitative approach to criminal justice. But as an important new study set for release Monday demonstrates, policy makers aren’t living up to the second part of the bargain.

    The report, from the MassINC think tank, shows that even as the state’s average daily prison population declined by 12 percent over the last five years, corrections spending soared by 18 percent. Read More

  • Report: Massachusetts spending more on corrections, despite declining prison population

    The MassINC think tank, in a new report, criticized state government for increasing spending on corrections even as the inmate population has declined.

    The report found that most of the spending has been on hiring staff and raising salaries, not on programming to benefit inmates and reduce recidivism.

    The MassINC report also highlights disparate spending levels between counties.

    “(Spending has) gone up considerably when the population is going down at a time of very tight state budgets,” said Ben Forman, research director at MassINC. “The question we ask is are those additional dollars going to provide better services to reduce recidivism…. The data suggest they hadn’t, which is troubling.”

    MassINC is pushing for reforms to the state’s correctional system that focus on increasing programs and services for inmates and implementing less harsh sentencing and incarceration practices. It plans to release the research at a summit on criminal justice reform on Monday.

    Read more…

  • SJC Chief Gants And U.S. Rep. Clark Say End Mandatory Minimum Sentences

    As the Trump administration revives a tough-on-crime strategy, Beacon Hill continues its debate on rethinking how best to treat those convicted of crimes. That debate has put the spotlight on the usually subdued leader of the judicial branch, Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Ralph Gants.

    Gants renewed his call for the end of mandatory minimum sentences Monday, saying the cost of incarcerating so many members of society is untenable for the Commonwealth.

    “Mandatory minimum sentencing is a failed experiment that must end. And it must end for all crimes, except the crimes of murder and repeated OUI offenses, not just for drug crimes,” Gants said at a criminal justice summit hosted by MassINC.

    Read more…

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  • 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 Eastern Bank President and COO

  • 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 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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