NORTH ADAMS -- Re-establishing a community development corps in Northern Berkshire is one of the goals state Rep. Gailanne Cariddi, D-North Adams, said she'd like to see come to fruition in the next few years during a joint luncheon of the North Adams and Williamstown Rotary clubs on Tuesday.
The creation of a Community Development Partnership Tax Credit Program was one of the best pieces to come out of the Commonwealth Plan for Economic Development, also known as the jobs bill, which was signed into law by Gov. Deval Patrick during the last state Legislative session, she said.
"It enables community development corps to partner with private investors to compete for state-backed tax credits, support community improvement initiatives and economic development projects," Cariddi said. "Now you may remember years ago we had the Community Development Corps, and I think it's time to get it going again. I have spoken to the mayor about it and he certainly does want to talk about this. We certainly need to take some action to get Northern Berkshire to take advantage of available grants and tax credits that our neighbors are getting."
She added: "To be eligible, CDCs are required to work with local governments, citizens and neighborhood groups to develop multi-year economic development plans. It sounds just like what we need, and I'm sure that working with the mayor we'll be able to do this. I know this is something we can move forward
In addition, the legislation supports future job creation while also focusing on the immediate needs of the existing workforce and small businesses by establishing several job-related initiatives.
"The legislation makes investments in infrastructure through the creation of the MassWorks Infrastructure Program for communities, which will help our local municipalities," Cariddi said. "It also includes the Talent Pipeline Program, which allows students and young innovators to get a head start on their future by having the state match stipends for interns at technology and innovation start-up companies."
It also provides for "middle skills" jobs by partnering learning institutions with regional workforce training sites such as the Berkshire Regional Employment Center. It extends local and state permits for two years for developers who have been unable to build because of the economy and creates an online business portal, "which is a one-stop shop for small businesses to go to find out things they need to know about."
Another beneficial bill that was signed by the governor, she said, was the initiative to control health insurance costs.
"This was the first step forward toward slowing down the increasing costs that had really slowed down job creation and economic growth for probably over a decade," Cariddi said. "In my mind, though, the best legislation we put forward was a balanced budget -- one without increasing taxes."
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