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On the campaign trail, Mitt Romney touts his record of creating jobs when he was Governor of Massachusetts.
So we decided to sample opinion on that point among people who worked with Romney during his time on Beacon Hill. WBUR's Fred Thys reports.
TEXT OF STORY:
FRED THYS: In the final Republican debate before Super Tuesday, Mitt Romney boasted of his performance bringing jobs to Massachusetts.
MITT ROMNEY: We had people losing jobs every single month during my predecessor's term. We lost 160 000 jobs. We kept losing jobs for a couple years. We got it turned around, began adding jobs back. We won some huge contracts to bring employers into the state. Some of them haven't even built their facilities yet.
THYS: One facility that was built was the Silver Line window factory in Fall River. Two years into Romney's term, his spokeswoman claimed that Romney played a role in bringing the plant to Massachusetts.
But Ken Faiola, the director of the Fall River Office of Economic Development, says Romney had nothing to do with it.
KEN FAIOLA: I remember it very clearly, and distinctly. For him or for anyone to claim credit for bringing Silver Line to the city, I think, is a little dishonest. It's certainly not true, because clearly the evidence indicates that this deal was consummated long before he became governor.
THYS: When Romney was still planning the Salt Lake City Olympics, Silver Line announced that it would open a plant in Fall River. Faiola says Romney just showed up for the ground breaking.
Faiola found Romney's three Republican predecessors pretty engaged in the city's development.
FAIOLA: And then Romney was just a horror show. Absolute horror show. He was just disengaged, completely. Early on in the process, everybody knew that he was going to be a short-term governor.
THYS: Faiola calls Romney's interest in economic development superficial. He says Fall River tried during the entire Romney administration to expand the industrial park where Silver Line built its factory, but because the plan didn't fit into Romney's smart growth strategy of building near mass transit, the city was never able to acquire the land it needed.
ANDRE MAYER: His efforts really were not consistent, and that, I think, is the great weakness of his administration.
THYS: Andre Mayer, of Associated Industries of Massachusetts, says Romney was distracted.
MAYER: By state political issues in the first half of his administration and by national ambitions in the second half. He did have some great successes when his attention and that of his administration was focused.
THYS: As an example, Mayer says Romney brought a Bristol-Myers Squibb manufacturing facility to Devens. That effort, Mayer says, is responsible for some of the job growth that Massachusetts saw during Romney's tenure in office, and lends legitimacy to his claim of having used his business expertise to create jobs here. Chris Anderson, of the Massachusetts High Technology Council, also gives Romney credit for bringing Bristol-Myers Squibb to Devens. Anderson also says Romney saved tens of thousand of jobs by persuading the Pentagon to keep Hanscom Air Force Base and the Natick Soldier Systems Center open.
CHRIS ANDERSON: Preserving Hanscom and the Soldier Systems Center and the 33-thousand direct and indirect jobs is probably the single most important economic decision that the Commonwealth faced, and the Governor played a critical role in selling our vision to the Pentagon, so this was a critical, critical win for Massachusetts, and the Governor quickly got wrapped around all the details.
THYS: Massachusetts gained more than 34-thousand jobs in the four years Romney was governor, a little more than one per cent. Governors, of course, don't control the national economy, and Romney took office when Massachusetts was still in a recession.
This program aired on February 4, 2008. The audio for this program is not available.
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