A $3.5 billion economic development bill that Gov. Charlie Baker announced on Thursday looks to forge a post-pandemic pathway for Massachusetts with investments in housing, downtown revitalization and climate resilience, administration officials said.

Sketching out details of the bill at a press conference in Lynn, Baker said it pairs the state’s remaining $2.3 billion in American Rescue Plan Act money with $1.2 billion in state bond authorizations, and would direct dedicated project funding for each of the 351 cities and towns in Massachusetts.

Baker said the bill includes $1.2 billion in energy and environmental initiatives, $300 million for the unemployment assistance fund, and about $300 million in housing support.

In steering money toward downtown revitalization after the pandemic shifted work, commerce and recreation patterns, Baker said the bill seeks to address “one of the greatest challenges we’re going to face as a commonwealth.”

“How do we create the vision for every downtown, working with our colleagues in local government, our colleagues in the Legislature, and with planners and developers to deal with the fact that downtowns are going to be different?” he said. “The goal here is to make sure we make them better.”

The bill would also “allow the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority to sell the Hynes Convention Center, with proceeds from the sale going to affordable housing development and the Back Bay area,” according to Baker’s office.

Passage of an economic development bill in the later portion of each two-year legislative session has become a tradition on Beacon Hill, and the bill often ends up replete with local earmarks and can serve as a vehicle for getting related policy priorities to the governor’s desk. 

(Copyright (c) 2024 State House News Service.

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