Leaning into her competitive spirit, Gov. Maura Haley on Wednesday voiced her administration’s commitment to partnering with the life sciences sector, while also addressing quality-of-life challenges in Massachusetts, including the state’s housing shortage and Transportation crisis included.
During remarks at the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council’s annual policy leadership breakfast in downtown Boston, Haley said she wants the commonwealth to remain the global epicenter of life sciences, adding that the state’s reputation has been boosted by calculated decision-making by lawmakers and industry leaders.
Healy pledged that the administration would “bust” to achieve that goal.
“That’s what our team is about: It’s about hustle, it’s about getting after it and working together, tapping talent, using the resources we have here, making strategic investments and things like that,” Haley said. It’s about showing support.” “This ecosystem that you all helped to create needs to be cultivated inside, outside of government working together. And I want us to maintain and grow our leadership position.”
Haley said Economic Development Secretary Yvonne Hao and Labor and Workforce Development Secretary Lauren Jones attended the breakfast to show their “total solidarity” with the life sciences sector.
Without delving into specific examples, the new governor said the region must also address “huge disparities” tied to socioeconomic, racial, ethnic and geographic disparities. Healy stressed that those inequalities, which have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic over the past three years, pose challenges as well as opportunities.
Those challenges are what motivate her to serve in public office, Haley said.
“I know of no state in the country that has this incredible collection of human capital, intellectual capital, social capital, or innovation or research,” Healy said. “We not only lead the country, we lead the world on many fronts.”
Healy outlined strategies to recruit and retain talent in Massachusetts, including addressing the workforce shortage. She reiterated her plan to make community college free for students age 25 and older who do not have college degrees, as well as the administration’s intention to cooperate with technical and vocational schools.
Citing his recently filed “urgent needs” bond bill, Healy said the Commonwealth’s push to compete for federal grant dollars could also strengthen research and development initiatives for the region. Haley said Massachusetts must maximize its return on investment with that federal money.
“I’m very conscious of the plays that other states, even other cities, are making,” Haley said. “I wish we’d get more of that. We’re going to be super aggressive about making sure we’re working to make the most of federal funding opportunities.”
But to make Massachusetts an attractive place to live and work, Healy said more housing must be built. She issued an executive order last week creating a working group that will inform her new housing secretariat, as Healey separates the traditional dual economic development and housing cabinet positions.
“It involves business leaders, municipal leaders, housing advocates, developers to come up with a plan that we need to present to develop housing across the state because I don’t want it to be the case that People are going to North Carolina, to Austin, to Florida, to somewhere else because they can’t afford to live here,” said Healey, who also stressed the importance of reliable transportation. “As long as we have We will not have a functioning economy unless we have a functioning transport system.”
Looking back at his basketball roots, Haley said he is “still the point guard” as he advocated teamwork from the dozens of life science professionals gathered at the Omni Parker House.
Haley said, “I would say that with respect to anything that comes our way, challenges now or challenges in the future, my money is on Massachusetts, and together we will get through this.”