MassDevelopment: Blueprint for Economic Diversification

June 4, 2016

By: Alex Cooke, senior consultant, TIP Strategies

Salem Muster

Image credit: Salem Muster [Image 1 of 2], by 1SG Donald Veitch via DVIDS (Public Domain)

TIP recently completed an engagement for MassDevelopment, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’s economic development and finance agency, to develop a Defense Industry Economic Diversification Study and Strategic Blueprint. MassDevelopment applied for and received a grant from the Department of Defense, Office of Economic Adjustment (OEA) to create the blueprint, which is designed to mitigate the potential impact of federal defense budget cuts and sequestration on the state and regional economy. Supporting TIP on this project was a consulting team consisting of UMass Donahue Institute’s Economic and Public Policy Research group, Chmura Economics & Analytics, and Business Development Advisors.

The planning process included stakeholder meetings with representatives of businesses, industry groups, agencies, and institutions throughout Massachusetts to gather ideas and expertise to inform the plan. Through these meetings, a number of specific initiatives were identified to assist defense-dependent businesses in diversifying and commercializing their products/technologies, providing skills training for employees, and improving their manufacturing processes and products.

To secure needed funding to launch the pilot initiatives and determine their effectiveness, MassDevelopment submitted implementation grant award requests to OEA before the blueprint was even completed. In all, MassDevelopment received over $3.6 million from OEA to fund five initiatives. These initiatives include assisting small manufacturers and R&D firms to commercialize their products and technologies and diversify their business portfolios, providing consulting services and technical assistance to small manufacturers, and helping defense-related firms export their products/services. The successful implementation of these and other initiatives proposed in the blueprint will serve to strengthen the Commonwealth’s defense sector and enable it to seize emerging opportunities, both commercial and defense related.