Massachusetts has so many economic development tools available that it may soon need a new toolbox.
Democrat Michael S. Dukakis' first term as governor (1975-79) saw the creation of the Massachusetts Industrial Finance Agency (MIFA), an industrial revenue bond and loan guarantee program that has pumped $3 billion into industry and into commercial developments in targeted downtown Commercial Area Revitalization Districts (CARDs); the Massachusetts Technology Development Corp. (MTDC), a quasi-public venture capital fund; and the Community Development Finance Corp. (CDFC), a finance agency for distressed-area community development groups.
Along with the earlier Massachusetts Government Land Bank (MGLB) and two programs initiated by Gov. Edward J. King (D) from 1979 to 1983, the Bay State Skills Corp. (BSSC) and the Community Development Action Grants (CDAGs), these funds provide a variety of tools for meeting the needs of new and expanding businesses.
At a recent economic development conference at Southeastern Massachusetts University, an electrical workers union official complained that the development bureaucracy sometimes stumbles over its own feet. He cited the case of MIFA arranging a subsidized loan to the purchaser of a failing business that he said "not only wouldn't let the union back in but wouldn't rehire the laid-off workers."
That deal was closed, he said, at the same time those workers were seeking state help for an employe buyout. Dukakis said he thought such slip-ups are rare.