Governor-elect Charlie Baker said for his initiatives in the state’s midsize so-called Gateway cities such as New Bedford, specifics will depend on what projects are backed by local leadership. For the Whaling City, Baker pledged his post-election support for South Coast Rail and continuing development of South Terminal as a staging area for offshore wind projects. He offered general support for his SouthCoast-oriented initiatives but did not set specific dates as he laid out his views of the projects; he spoke with The Standard-Times on Thursday.
Q: What will you do in the first six months of your administration to address issues critical to SouthCoast?
A: “An outreach for talent and an outreach for people who would want to serve in a Baker administration, because at the end of day, people are policy. The single biggest thing we want to make sure we get right coming out of the gate is getting the right kind of people into the right positions.”
“A collaborative review with the state of play with the agencies and budget, which the governor and I talked about (Wednesday).”
“Gathering input from people around the commonwealth. What are some of the key priorities on people’s minds region by region? … I think it’s important to us post-election to see what their key priorities are.”
Q: What initiatives will we see to advance South Coast Rail and when?
A: “There’s already a process going on right now that started recently that involves a series of planning and permitting, a $200 million process that started a few months ago … We’re obviously going to continue. That in some ways is a big step, and certainly something we support.”
Q: What initiatives will we see from the Baker administration regarding offshore wind power and boosting New Bedford’s role, and when?
A: “The state permits associated with the Cape Wind project are pretty much done; there are some federal issues outstanding which I’m assuming are going to move forward at an appropriate pace. There are also a whole series of bids out on the federal government’s desire to lease land on the other side of Martha’s Vineyard, which I think are going to move forward. Certainly as that process unfolds, I’ll advocate with the folks from New Bedford to include New Bedford as a staging area and assembly area for those projects as they move forward … and make sure we get a good deal for the rate payers associated with those projects. New Bedford is situated geographically in a really great spot to be an assembly spot for those projects.”
Q: What are your plans for the older industrial and Gateway cities like New Bedford?
A: “The urban agenda we developed came about as a result of conversations we had with many folks from those communities. A big part of our economic development agenda talked about putting together major components. One was technical assistance for small businesses that operate on Main Street in a lot of our midsize cities, that deal with regulations and permitting issues that can be difficult. And, trying to roll together about 25 different state and federal programs; a big part of our workforce development plan is to make sure we match skills with available employment opportunities.”
“I campaigned pretty aggressively in all parts of the commonwealth and developed some relationships and some ideas for our urban agenda and for our economic development plan. Those are going to be important to us as we move forward and implement our agenda.”
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