Worcester forum focuses on key issues affecting Gateway communities

Issue June 2012

The MBA hosted its second Gateway Cities forum at the Worcester Trial Court on April 30.

"We are here tonight to answer the question of 'How can Massachusetts Bar attorneys assist with the Gateway Cities in Central Massachusetts,'" said MBA President-elect Robert L. Holloway Jr. before introducing the event's panel.

All leaders who have long worked with the issues affecting the state's Gateway Cities, panelists included:

  • Lt. Gov. Timothy P. Murray
  • Massachusetts Secretary of Education S. Paul Reville
  • Michael F. Collins, MD, chancellor of University of Massachusetts Medical School and senior vice president for Health Sciences for UMass
  • Massachusetts Sen. Harriette L. Chandler (D-Worcester
  • Massachusetts Sen. Michael O. Moore (D-Millbury)
  • Benjamin Forman, research director, MassINC
  • Craig L. Blais, president, Worcester Business Development Corporation

Sharing the sentiment of panelists to follow him, Lt. Gov. Murray posed the question of "How do we bring time, attention and money to his initiative?"

Murray explained that all of the 24 communities that the Patrick-Murray Administration have identified as Gateway Cities play a critical role in local and regional economies. These communities "continue to play an historic role," he said.

Murray pointed to education, infrastructure, housing, economic development and arts and culture as the aspects needing attention to improve the livelihood of the Gateway communities.

MassINC Research Director Benjamin Forman commended both Murray and Reville on their attention to this issue. Forman tailored a portion of his presentation to Worcester specifically, pointing out that Worcester, when compared to other Gateway Cities, "has really stood out in increasing the share of its residents with a college education." He did note that for the cities collectively, "We need to have a bigger and bolder" conversation about educational resources.

Forman also pointed to Worcester's City Square project as a "great example of a city bringing all its resources to bear."

Following brief presentations from the other panelists, the remainder of the event was devoted to a question-and-answer session.

The April 30 event followed the success of the MBA's debut forum in Dartmouth earlier this year. Worcester attorney Francis A. Ford moderated the event. Ford and Margaret Xifaras chair the MBA's Gateway Cities initiative.