The Great Recession of 2007-2009 and the US Budget Control Act of 2011 both weighed heavily on the defense-reliant economy of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. By mid-decade, the state was anticipating further cuts to federal spending in the defense sector and wanted to prepare for any disruptions that might lie ahead.
After securing funds from the US Department of Defense’s Office of Economic Adjustment (OEA), MassDevelopment engaged TIP Strategies to prepare a plan that would capitalize on the state’s competitive advantages, while mitigating the impact of potential reductions in defense contracts. TIP met with business leaders, industry groups, agencies, and institutions throughout Massachusetts to gather ideas and tap their collective expertise. The resulting Defense Industry Diversification Study and Strategic Blueprint provided strategies for the Commonwealth and its regional and local economic development partners to 1) assist defense-dependent businesses in diversifying and commercializing their products and technologies; 2) expand their customer bases; 3) provide skills training for employees; and 4) utilize available technologies to improve their manufacturing processes and products. The plan sought to leverage Massachusetts’ world-class R&D, engineering, advanced manufacturing, and higher education assets to position the state for new investment and employment opportunities. To secure needed funding to launch identified pilot initiatives and determine effectiveness, MassDevelopment submitted implementation grant requests to OEA, and in all, received more than $3.6 million from the OEA to fund five initiatives in areas including commercialization, diversification, technical assistance, and exporting.