Timilty secures $1M to help towns and create Veterans workforce program

(BOSTON 08/4/2020) – State Senator Walter F. Timilty joined his colleagues in the Massachusetts State Senate in passing a sweeping $455 million economic recovery and development bill on Wednesday (07/29/20) that will provide much-needed support to businesses, invest in infrastructure, and create new jobs in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This deadly pandemic has upended every aspect of our economy, from a laid off workforce to struggling small businesses,” said Timilty. “As we make efforts to return to a new normal, a financial boost, such as this, is certainly needed.”

An Act to encourage new development and usher in a recovering economy (ENDURE Act) includes provisions for small business competitive grant programs, housing production, local economic development projects, capital funding for vocational schools and community colleges, protections to student loan borrowers in disputes and investments in infrastructure. It also provides support for the tourism and cultural sectors and restaurant industry. Further, to promote equity and protect borrowers and workers across the Commonwealth, the ENDURE Act establishes a Future of Work Commission and creates a Student Loan Bill of Rights.

Timilty filed several amendments to the ENDURE Act that were unanimously adopted. One such amendment provides assistance with local economic development by allocating $50,000 to each of the 10 towns within the Norfolk, Bristol and Plymouth District.

“This economic assistance will provide for crucial funds to promote local economic development, especially now during this Covid-19 pandemic. I believe these funds are critical to insure that the towns in the Norfolk, Bristol and Plymouth District are provided every opportunity to achieve success and enable continuation of essential services. Moreover, we must mitigate some of the hardships facing our towns,” said Timilty.

Another amendment filed by Timilty allocates $500,000 to establish a 3-year Veterans Workforce Skillset Pilot Program. The program will be formed within the Department of Veterans Services to assist both veterans and members of the Massachusetts National Guard in transitioning their military skillsets into civilian skillsets.

“This program is critical in helping those who have so bravely served our great country. Transitioning job skills from the military to civilian occupations has been one of the top issues faced by our veterans. Simply put, this program will help with that major concern,” Timilty said.

Timilty also filed an amendment, that was also unanimously adopted, which would establish a special commission to both evaluate and study the impact of telecommuting on employees of the Commonwealth.

“While we continue to telecommute, practice social distancing, and do everything that we are able to stop the spread of this deadly virus, it is time that we think about what our lives will look like once we are on the other side of this insidious pandemic,” said Timilty.

The legislation also includes new protections for entrepreneurs by enforcing a ban on making bad faith assertions of patent infringement, a practice known as ‘patent trolling.’ Such claims often entangle new small businesses in costly lawsuits that hamper the companies’ productivity and sap their early seed-stage funds.

To invest in the Commonwealth’s infrastructure and stimulate economic activity, the ENDURE Act authorizes bonding for the following:

• $15M for the site readiness program;

• $35M for a Massachusetts Growth Capital Corporation matching grant program to community development financial institutions for small business loans and grants;

• $5M for the Massachusetts Broadband Incentive Fund;

• $10M for the expansion of the Massachusetts Manufacturing Innovation Initiative (M2I2)

• $50M for the Technology Research and Development and Innovation Fund;

• $20M for rural community development and infrastructure grants;

• $20M for a Massachusetts Growth Capital Corporation small business grant program;

• $20M for financial and capital assistance grants to restaurants impacted by the 2019 novel coronavirus;

• $10M for grants to promote marketing and advertising for in-state cultural and tourist activities during the 2019 novel coronavirus reopening process;

• $40M for a program to redevelop blighted buildings;

• $10M for regional and community assistance planning grants;

• $28M for an Employment Social Enterprise Capital Grant Program;

• $50M for local economic development projects;

• $2M for an urban agriculture grant program;

• $20M for grants to support the reopening of cultural facilities impacted by the 2019 novel coronavirus;

• $25M for transit-oriented housing developments;

• $10M for climate-resilient affordable housing developments;

• $50M for the neighborhood stabilization program;

• $5M for Gateway Cities market rate housing pilot program;

• $15M for vocational technical school expansion grants; and

• $15M for community college high-demand workforce grants.

The final version of this bill will now be negotiated by the House and Senate before being sent to Governor Charlie Baker for his consideration.

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