Baker Files $3.5 Billion Plan for Downtown Areas, Clean Energy

HYANNIS – Governor Charlie Baker filed a proposed $3.5 billion economic development bill that would support revitalizing the state’s downtown areas, clean energy, and several other projects.

Baker made the announcement at an event in Lynn on Thursday, April 21, and addressed what the legislation would aim to accomplish.   

“The FORWARD legislation will make investments in every municipality in Massachusetts, strengthening downtowns, improving the resiliency of infrastructure and giving works the tools they need to succeed in today’s economy,” Baker said.

The FORWARD bill, (Future Opportunities for Resiliency, Workforce, and Revitalized Downtowns), would be composed of $2.3 billion in federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds, with the rest of the money made up of state bond authorizations.

$550 million of the money would be used to boost downtown areas across the state through grants for local infrastructure projects, with another $108 million for downtown recovery grants.  

Some pieces of the spending plan that may impact Cape Cod could be $104 million in authorization for Clean Water Trust Fund grants and $10 million in authorization for Seaport Economic Council grants.

The bill also includes a $750 million clean energy fund to promote programs that reduce greenhouse gas emissions from buildings and support clean energy technologies.

Baker previously proposed a similar fund last fall but is proposing it the fund with a detailed breakdown of how money would be allocated.

 Climate resiliency initiatives that could possibly be seen on the Cape might include the bill’s $97 million for 55 coastal infrastructure projects and $7 million for fishing and boating access projects.

Additionally, $270 million of the bill’s funds would go towards housing programs and creating more affordable rentals.

When discussing the housing portion of the plan, Baker commented on some troubling insights from the state’s migration data. 

“Most of the folks who’ve left over the past few years have been people in their 20s and 30s and when you survey them and you ask them why, more often than not the cost of housing plays a big role in that,” Baker said.  

Funds from the FORWARD bill would also go toward COVID-19 response as well investments in innovation and new technologies.

Next, the proposed bill will go to the state legislature for review.

By Brian Engles, NewsCenter

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