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Gov. Deval Patrick is convening about 130 business leaders, municipal leaders and state legislators at a summit at the Boston Federal Reserve Bank on Tuesday with a focus on long-term economic development and job creation.
"The goal is to get a variety of perspectives on what are the two or three things ideally where we can make the biggest, tangible difference," said Greg Bialecki, the state's housing and economic development secretary.
The first panel will focus on the current economic situation in Massachusetts and the United States as a whole. Other panels include discussions on how to compete for federal grants, creating access to capital and advice to small businesses and both short- and long-term plans to accelerate the recovery in the state.
"It's a very unique moment in time," said Cathy Minehan, who will lead the first panel discussion. She is the former head of the Boston Fed and currently chairs the governor's Council of Economic Advisers.
Even though there are some positive signs of state and national economic recovery, Minehan said there are still a lot of challenges.
"Some of the reasons why there are some good signs have to do with fiscal stimulus. So there's the question of, is the economy recovering underneath?" Minehan said.
While the state is not suffering worse than other parts of the country, there are several challenges — such as state revenues, which keep dropping. Some analysts say Massachusetts might lead other states in exiting the recession, but it's not clear.
"We've had some state revenue problems that are not quite in sync with Massachusetts really leading things," she said. "However, we've got a great mix of businesses here in the state, and there's every reason to assume that we won't lag the rest of the country."
A big problem, Minehan pointed out, is that many businesses are hesitant to hire until they know that the state is in a sustained recovery and that there is demand for their services in the economy. Ultimately, she said, job growth will depend on the pace of demand and the confidence of businesses and consumers.
"Confidence is really at issue now. Businesses (and) people around the state need to understand that the leadership — both public leadership and private leadership — is really focused on getting the state out of this," Minehan said.
While confidence is key, Minehan said leaders also need to set short-term goals to help the state recover.
"In the end, obviously, the nation will drive both its own recovery and the state's recovery," Minehan said. "What we want to do is find things at the margin that we can all put our shoulder to the wheel on and get done in a relatively short period of time — in the next 18 months — that will help the state emerge in a better fashion."
WBUR's Steve Brown contributed to this report. To hear Minehan's conversation with WBUR's Bob Oakes, click "Listen Now."
This program aired on October 27, 2009.
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