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Patrick: State recovery depends on small biz

Associated Press | 11/4/2009, 4:25 a.m.

BOSTON — Massachusetts will consider a fund to provide capital to small- and medium-sized businesses, Gov. Deval Patrick announced Tuesday as he closed a one-day summit with government and business leaders.

The Democrat also said he would explore ways to provide strategic advice to smaller businesses, whose growth could play a pivotal role in the state’s recovery from the national recession. He said he hoped to work out details of both programs during the next 90 days.

Hours earlier, Patrick opened the meeting at the Federal Reserve Bank by outlining his administration’s four-pronged growth strategy: supporting innovative industries such as life sciences and clean energy; investing in education; building infrastructure through bonding; and promoting development throughout the state.

“Like the nation, this Commonwealth is in a tough spot,” Patrick told about 150 attendees. “And we are all in it together and we will recover together. The question today is ‘how do we rebuild together?’”

Senate President Therese Murray, a Democrat, said one of her priorities is streamlining the state’s economic development infrastructure, which she called “fairly disorganized.”

Murray added, “Anyone looking at the Commonwealth’s organizational structure for statewide economic development will see too many organizations, with many overlapping and moving in different directions. There needs to be consistency, focus and the ability to respond quickly to businesses seeking help and information. In other words, we must achieve greater coordination and less confusion.”

House Speaker Robert DeLeo reiterated his call for expanded gambling in Massachusetts, saying it would help with his top priority, creating jobs.

“I don’t see gaming as the solution to all of our economic and fiscal problems in the state, but I do see it as another tool that we can use to help our state prosper,” the speaker, a Democrat, said.

The meeting had the trappings of a campaign event; roughly half of the organizing committee are prior Patrick donors, and a screen behind the governor promoted the “Patrick-Murray Administration Economic Summit.” Even before it concluded, Patrick’s campaign committee sent an e-mail to his supporters highlighting the get-together.

State Republicans were critical.

“Today’s so-called ‘economic summit’ was really nothing more than another stop on Governor Patrick’s re-election campaign,” said a statement issued by Senate Minority Leader Richard Tisei. The Watertown Republican also is chairman of the gubernatorial campaign of GOP candidate Charles Baker.

Among those in the crowd was Beacon Power Corp. President Bill Capp.

He said he has grown his 65-person Tyngsborough company, which creates energy storage and management systems, with help from both the state and federal governments. It has included a $5 million state loan to build a manufacturing plant and a federal loan guarantee to construct a second facility.

Capp said he attended to learn what other help he may be able to receive from the state.

“We’ve been very happy with the administration,” Capp said. “We’ve received support every time we’ve asked for it.”

The governor, shaking hands nearby, said Beacon Power’s story is one he hopes to replicate with other Massachusetts employers.