BOSTON – Today the Massachusetts Senate passed two bills filed by Sen. Eileen Donoghue (D-Lowell), one that could grow the economy and one that would help the University of Massachusetts.
S.178, an act establishing the MassMade program, supports Massachusetts businesses and consumers by increasing awareness of local products and generating opportunities for support of state enterprises. The Massachusetts Office of Business Development will operate MassMade, and collect and provide information about qualified Massachusetts businesses and their products in a readily accessible format. The public can access all MassMade information for free.
“MassMade will boost our economy by empowering companies and consumers alike. No longer will the Commonwealth’s manufacturers buy widgets from overseas because they did not realize that the same widget is being made 15 miles down the road. No longer will Massachusetts residents say they want to buy gifts or a specialty food locally, but, not knowing where to shop, give up and go online,” said Donoghue. “MassMade supports the Commonwealth’s world-class businesses and provides a key resource for those wishing to buy made-in-Massachusetts goods.”
“One of the biggest barriers to purchasing local Massachusetts-made products is the lack of an easily-accessible way to find these products,” said Senate President Harriette L. Chandler (D-Worcester). “The MassMade program is a tool that we can use to break down this barrier and foster grow and development in our small businesses across the Commonwealth.”
“A MassMade program can do much to leverage support for regional and local organizations so that they can grow larger markets, give consumers more choices, and sustain our state’s economic development,” said Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester). “This bill will help producers of consumer goods, including food and beverage products, to become more profitable and prosperous.”
S.2308 would allow the University to insure property that it operates but that the Commonwealth owns. The inability of UMass to insure its own facilities results in significant costs when accidents or natural disasters damage buildings. For example, at UMass-Lowell, a fire rendered one floor of Perry Hall, an engineering building, unusable at a time of increasing enrollment of engineering students. If UMass could have insured the building itself, then the receipt of the insurance proceeds could have expedited the rebuild of the academic building.
“We trust our state university with improving young minds and we should trust the University of Massachusetts to purchase its own insurance,” said Donoghue. “This bill will give UMass greater control over its own fiscal destiny so that it can make timely capital reinvestments in the interest of advancing its primary educational mission.”
“This legislation is a common-sense change that empowers UMass to better manage the facilities in which it operates,” said Chandler. “UMass needs to be given the ability to reinvest in its facilities in a timely and expedient manner.”
“The passage of this legislation is an important step forward to maintaining our world class facilities in the event buildings are damaged by accident or natural disaster,” said Lisa Calise, senior vice president of administration & finance at the University of Massachusetts. “It also strengthens our ability to apply for and receive federal funds to support repair and replacement costs when such funds are available. By properly insuring our facilities we expect more timely repairs that will ultimately benefit out students and faculty that require safe, reliable space to conduct their work.”
Both bills now move to the House of Representatives for consideration.