Jobs and the Economy
From scientific research to small business, the economy of Massachusetts’s Fourth District has a rich history of entrepreneurship and innovation. Policymakers should protect this legacy and foster the next chapter of growth. We must ensure that our workers have the skills required to access the modern job market, that our businesses have the certainty they need to hire and grow, and that entrepreneurs are empowered to maintain the Commonwealth’s competitive edge. As a member of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, these goals will continue to guide my work.
Today, our local economy has expanded from textile production and newspaper printing to healthcare, biotechnology, advanced manufacturing, research, and information technology. Nearly 40 percent of all employment in the $400 billion Massachusetts economy is now tied to these high-skill, high innovation sectors . The cities and towns of the 4th District can be leaders in the innovation economy just as they were leaders in the manufacturing economy of the 20th century. From the developing life sciences center at Myles Standish Industrial Park in Taunton to the revitalization of Fall River’s waterfront, the transportation upgrades to downtown Attleboro and the nascent Newton-Needham corridor, communities across our region are proactively working to bring the opportunities of a thriving modern economy to their backyard.
In Washington I have worked with colleagues on both sides of the aisle to support legislation that helps power this economic growth and transformation back home.
In August 2013, I introduced the Revitalize American Manufacturing and Innovation Act (RAMI) with Representative Tom Reed of New York. A bipartisan bill, RAMI will bring together partners from industry and academia to support small and mid-sized manufacturers in research, development, and workforce training. After garnering widespread support on both sides of the aisle, RAMI was passed by the full House and Senate at the end of the 113th Congress and signed into law by President Obama in December of 2014.
With my colleagues from Massachusetts, I have fought hard to protect critical federal research dollars from the National Institute of Health (NIH) and National Science Foundation (NSF), which not only drive our Commonwealth’s economy but put solutions for everything from chronic disease to cyber-security in reach. I’ve made Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) education and workforce training a top priority of mine in Washington, understanding the critical role that public schools, community colleges and vocational high schools play in building the pipeline of skilled workers our local businesses need. I’m honored to serve as honorary co-chair of the Massachusetts STEM Council to support efforts across the Commonwealth and bring the lessons learned to the federal level.
While advances in science and technology are creating exciting new possibilities, small business remains at the heart of the 4th District’s economy – and local economies across our country. Places like Alice’s Last Stop in Dighton, Blue Moon Bagel Café in Medfield and Commonwealth Barbeque in Wrentham aren’t just economic engines. They are irreplaceable parts of the community and character that convince an individual, family or business to re-locate to one of our cities and towns. When small business does well, we see new jobs and stronger cities and towns. When they are stifled by uncertainty around the tax code or layer after layer of regulations, we see job loss and local decline. Whether it’s working with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on new regulations or helping navigate health care reform: I’m committed to ensuring our federal government is making it easier, not harder, for business owners to do their jobs.
Finally, I’ve worked to protect the middle-class mobility and opportunity that is the cornerstone of sustainable economic recovery. One of the first bills I supported in Congress was to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour – because no one working a full-time job should find themselves below the poverty line. I co-sponsored the Paycheck Fairness Act to combat gender disparity in the workforce and have fought to protect unemployment benefits, workforce re-training programs and other essential social services that help out-of-work Americans get back on their feet.
After years of economic decline, we are recovering. Housing prices are rebounding, businesses have created over 11 million new jobs, and unemployment is at the lowest level we’ve seen since October 2008. But too many families, companies and communities out there continue to struggle. In the face of complex challenges that range from the effect of long-term unemployment on our job market to the impact of globalization on international trade and overall competitiveness, the path forward isn’t about “more” government or “less” government. It’s about smart government. It’s about a system that works in tandem with the private sector to make sure every American has access to the opportunity our modern economy can provide.
You can read my State of the 4th District article here.
More on Jobs and the Economy
Newton, MA –Congressman Joe Kennedy III today applauded news that Massachusetts has been selected by the Department of Defense to host a $317 million Manufacturing Innovation Institute. Led by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the institute will be a public-private consortium spanning 28 states and dedicated to emerging technologies in fibers and textiles.
Newton, MA – Next Wednesday, Congressman Joe Kennedy III will partner with the U.S. Department of Commerce and the South Coast Development Partnership at UMass Dartmouth to host a 4th District Export Forum for local businesses. Attendees will learn about the broad range of federal programs available to help companies with their international business efforts and have the opportunity to meet one-on-one with government officials to answer questions and gain feedback.
Washington, DC – Congressman Joe Kennedy III released the following statement after voting against the “fast track” trade bill in the House of Representatives today.