Credit: WGBH News

Walsh to Chamber: Let's Talk Innovation

April 29, 2014

Appearing before the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce, Mayor Marty Walsh discussed his first 100 days in office, and revealed plans for economic development in Roxbury.

In his first appearance before the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce, Mayor Walsh asked the crowd of about 500 business leaders to look for new ways to create jobs in their industries. Taking a regional approach, he acknowledged growth in existing, so-called innovation districts such as Kendall Square, Longwood, the South Boston Waterfront. Adding that he is "pleased to announce that we will be opening a new business incubator in the Ferdinand Building in Dudley Square."
The incubator, or office space for startups, will share the building with the new Boston Public Schools offices, and retail and community space. "We must prepare our young people to be the leaders of the next generation," wash commented. To do so, he is "developing a strategic plan to make the Boston Public Schools the premier digital district in the nation by 2020."
Walsh wants to do that by putting mobile devices in classrooms. But he also wants to take an old-fashioned approach with summer jobs. Wash has asked every business to consider hiring a high school student, or to donate to the city’s Summer Jobs Program. the Mayor also announced plans to hire a Chief Digital Officer to remake the city’s web site and television station. 
One Chamber member, Fletcher Wiley, a Boston attorney, says development is still on his mind. He hopes the mayor can use his influence on new construction, noting that "any large development includes meaningful minority participation at all levels, including the equity level." Another listener, Michael McDevitt, a business consultant, says he’s watching Walsh’s interactions with the unions. "I think a lot of people doubted that this mayor could put aside his labor background and negotiate on behalf of the city of Boston," McDevitt says. 
Walsh has negotiated four union contracts– including last week’s with the fire department. That union is set to vote on a nearly 19% pay raise, to the tune of 92 million dollars. While that contract is less than the 25% raise police officers received from an arbitrator last year, Walsh still has two more contracts to resolve (with EMTs and police detectives) so many in the Camber of Commerce are withholding judgment.

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