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New England’s Largest Economic Development Agencies

June 8, 2011 : Mass High Tech, by Lynette F. Cornell

Tasked with spurring growth, economic development agencies are both the cheerleaders and the gamblers, rooting for their local communities while putting money where their mouths are. In tough times, they also can be lifelines for struggling businesses.

In Massachusetts, MassDevelopment has been seeing customer demand for their services picking up in recent years and is helping businesses see new opportunities for growth. The quasi-public finance and development agency provides financing and other services to local companies as a means to promote job growth and make Massachusetts an attractive place for businesses.

The agency is helping cash-strapped businesses look beyond the Route 128/I-95 Corridor to nurture growth in communities that would otherwise go overlooked by developers. Such cities include Springfield, Holyoke, New Bedford and Fall River. These areas are good for businesses because of their low rent and low cost of living but may not be on the radar of developers, according to Richard Henderson, executive vice president of MassDevelopment’s real estate division.

Another way MassDevelopment is helping budget-conscious businesses grow is through its Brownfields Redevelopment Fund, which provides financing help for renovation of contaminated properties. The availability of capital for brownfield development has also been instrumental in attracting new businesses to areas that would otherwise remain neglected, according to Laura Canter, MassDevelopment's executive vice president of finance programs.

MassDevelopment is also trying to keep businesses from venturing so far out that they leave the state. “We are a place where companies get started and grow and a lot of other states don't have that,” said Henderson.

New England’s economic development agencies
Regional and local development agencies ranked by operating budget

*Agencies that did not respond to multiple survey requests are not included on this list.

Organization 2010 operating budget # of employees
Massachusetts Port Authority $358,400,000 1,100
Department of Neighborhood Development $106,000,000 180
MassDevelopment $93,000,000 174
Rhode Island Economic Development Corp. $15,486,660 48
CT Department of Economic and Community Dev’t $13,128,908 117
Massachusetts Technology Collaborative $12,500,000 68
Metropolitan Area Planning Council $10,000,000 35
MetroHartford Alliance $4,500,000 20
Economic Dev’t Council of Western MA $3,200,000 50
City of Lowell, Dept. of Planning & Dev’t $2,076,534 58
Southeastern Regional Planning & Economic Dev’t $2,000,000 25
Southeastern CT Enterprise Region (seCTer) $1,100,000 10
Capital Regional Development Council $750,000 4
Town of Londonderry Community Dev’t Dept. $720,295 212
MassEcon $550,000 5


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