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

State House Forum on Stimulating Transformative Investment in Gateway Cities

Event Recap

On February 27, MassINC hosted “Stimulating Transformative Development in Gateway Cities,” a State House forum co-sponsored by LOCUS of Massachusetts and the Massachusetts Smart Growth Alliance (MSGA). The event examined state and federal tools that can work in combination to foster transit-oriented development (TOD) in our Gateway Cities, particularly highlighting the importance of HDIP, Opportunity

Hooray for Housing Choice and HDIP

Gateways Episode 8

In this episode of Gateways, co-hosts Ben Forman and Dr. Tracy Corley dive deep into state and federal housing policies that stimulate housing development in Gateway Cities. In response to Gov. Baker’s Housing Choice legislation announcement, they analyze its potential impacts on the quantity and quality of housing across the state. Tune in to Ben

Housing Choice & HDIP, ASAP

The Gateway Cities Journal

Last Wednesday was a big day on Beacon Hill. Governor Baker gathered leaders from across the state to make a forceful argument for acting promptly on his sensible Housing Choice legislation. The Governor’s bill takes on the housing crunch/road congestion behemoth by making it easier to approve multifamily development, particularly near existing transit stations. Under the legislation,

Building Community by Breaking Bread

Gateways Episode 7

Coming off the heels of an education research report release event at the State House, Aimee and Tracy talk about local accountability in education as Beacon Hill takes up education funding reform. We continue our conversation around community building with a special trip to Salem. Aimee and Tracy take us to experience Salem Meet & Eat

A First Test for the Local Accountability Concept

The Gateway Cities Journal

Last week, MassINC held an education policy forum at the State House. The event highlighted findings from a series of three new research reports exploring what it would mean to ask communities to play a larger role defining what they want their schools to produce and provide more accountability for delivering these outcomes. This is a

Dr. Corley’s big debut, Crighton and Cabral talk about their bill too

Gateways Episode 6

In this episode of GATEWAYS, Aimee and Ben introduce MassINC’s Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) Fellow, Dr. Tracy Corley, who joins the podcast as a new host. We also speak with Representative Cabral and Senator Crighton about the recent neighborhood stabilization bill, which was unveiled last week in the State House by the Gateway Cities Legislative Caucus. Tracy succinctly outlines our

An Act Relative to Neighborhood Stabilization and Economic Development

The Gateway Cities Journal

Gateway City legislators gathered yesterday to unveil An Act Relative to Neighborhood Stabilization and Economic Development. Filed by Representative Antonio Cabral (House Docket 3507) and Senator Brendan Crighton (Senate Docket 1578), the bill furthered the ideas for strengthening blighted and distressed neighborhoods that MassINC and the Massachusetts Association of Community Development Corporations assembled last fall

Unveiling Gateway City Neighborhood Stabilization Bill

Show Your Support

Last week the Gateway Cities Legislative Caucus filed an omnibus bill to provide communities with more powerful tools to address blighted and abandoned property and stabilize distressed neighborhoods across the Commonwealth. This legislation includes all of the major tools described in a neighborhood stabilization policy blueprint that we developed collaboratively with Gateway City housing leaders over the

Launching a Neighborhood Revitalization Campaign

Gateways Episode 5

EPISODE 5 of GATEWAYS brings listeners to the Hampshire House in Boston for a special breakfast conversation with the Gateway Cities Legislative Caucus. The theme for the morning was comprehensive neighborhood revitalization. In the fall, MassINC partnered with the Massachusetts Association of Community Development Corporations to convene a diverse group of housing, community development, education,

Building Communities of Promise and Possibility

The Gateway Cities Journal

Housing leaders gathered with members of the Gateway Cities Legislative Caucus on Wednesday for a breakfast forum on neighborhood stabilization policy. Together they reviewed a strategy blueprint for comprehensive state and local neighborhood revitalization efforts that we hope will become a major focus in the 2019-2020 legislative session. The arguments for making neighborhood stabilization a

Press coverage

  • Our Opinion: Encouraging state effort for city neighborhoods

    In an attempt to stem the decline of neighborhoods essential to the continued viability of these cities, two legislators, state Sen. Brendan Crighton of Lynn and state Rep. Antonio Cabral of New Bedford have filed bills that would take a multi-pronged approach to stabilizing neighborhoods, increase the state’s investment in such an effort, and coordinate various state initiatives to maximize their impact. Specifically, the proposal would double the cap of the state’s Housing Development Incentive Program to $20 million, create a “spot blight rehabilitation program” that would address distressed properties before they could negatively affect surrounding neighborhoods and consider neighborhood viability when considering school construction, among other measures.

    Mr. Forman of MassINC, whose report helped spur the effort, was most excited about the role of schools in the process. “More than half the state’s capital spending in Gateway Cities is in school building,” he told The Eagle. “Schools are the most important drivers of residential property value.” A school, he added, can become the multi-purpose core of a solid, stable neighborhood. “We had to get the state away from the idea that it should build the same school everywhere,” he said, citing the provision of child mental and physical health care and nighttime English language classes as functions influencing the design of a school to suit the needs of its neighborhood.

    Read More…

  • Lawmakers pitch plan to help struggling cities

    New legislation filed by members of the Gateway Cities Legislative Caucus, based on research by MassINC and the Massachusetts Association of Community Development Corporations, aims to address those problems. The bill proposes a combination of state funding and initiatives that supporters say will help towns and cities stabilize distressed areas.

    The proposal is built on a report by MassINC, a nonpartisan think tank, and the MACDC completed earlier this year. Representatives from the groups joined lawmakers Wednesday to promote the bill, where copies of the 24-page report were handed out.

    “It really comes back to neighborhood policy that we’ve been lacking in some way since the federal government walked off the job,” said Ben Forman, executive director of MassINC’s Gateway Cities Innovation Institute. “These neighborhoods are the greatest assets to our cities.”

    Read More…

  • Home prices in ‘gateway cities’ bounce back. That’s the good — and the bad — news

     

    Those steep climbs emerged from deep troughs: Gateway cities suffered more than most in the last recession, and unemployment rates remained stubbornly high even after other communities bounced back. “They didn’t get the wind in their sails until late in the recovery,’’ said Benjamin Forman, research director at the nonprofit Massachusetts Institute for a New Commonwealth, known as MassINC…

    We may also be seeing the fruit of seeds sown more than a decade ago, when a 2007 report by MassINC and the Brookings Institution studied the disparities between booming Boston and the state’s smaller outlying cities, and urged lawmakers not to leave the latter behind. State funding followed for an initial group of 11 gateway cities — later expanded to include 26 communities of between 35,000 and 250,000 residents with income and educational attainment levels below the state average. And after years of investments, many are increasingly attractive to home buyers.

    Read More…

  • Massachusetts cities like Springfield face barriers in combating urban blight, report finds

    In the wealthy Boston suburbs, housing prices are skyrocketing and affordable housing is hard to find, even for working families.

    But travel west to Springfield, and the picture is different.

    Housing prices, measured by median price per square foot, are among the lowest in the state. Nine percent of buildings are vacant. Nearly 40,000 residents — more than a quarter of the city’s population — live in areas where poverty rates are above 40 percent, according to a recent report by the MassINC think tank.

    Read More…

     

  • MassINC, Fall River legislators push for new housing programs and funding

    FALL RIVER — As Ben Forman explains it, Fall River’s housing problem is almost the opposite of the issue facing residents and officials in Boston.

    While the state’s largest city faces a shortage of housing and a growing demand for places to live, Fall River, and many of the state’s other so-called Gateway Cities, are having to find ways to renovate and fill existing buildings that people can’t afford to, or don’t want to, live in.

    ″(These are) cities that have an older housing stock,” said Forman, the research director for the independent think tank MassINC. “They’re traditionally in low- or moderate-income communities and as that older housing stock gets more expensive to maintain, you see some challenges.”

    Read More…

Gateway cities

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.  

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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 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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