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Patrick planning Mass. economic summit

Glen Johnson

Gov. Deval Patrick wants to help push the economic recovery in Massachusetts rather than waiting for it to happen, so he’s organizing an economic summit this fall.

The Democrat said last Saturday that he wants to bring together key business, financial and state officials from important job sectors and different regions in the state.

With everyone in one place, he said, he wants specifics about what businesses need to resume hiring, how bankers and others can help and what the state can do to facilitate the process.

“If somebody says, ‘I’m just waiting for X’ — say, capital — then let’s turn to the capital people and say, ‘What can you do about this?’” Patrick said in a telephone interview.

In June, Massachusetts had an 8.7 percent unemployment rate, a full percentage point below the national rate of 9.7 percent.

Nonetheless, the state has seen slowing tax collections, prompting billions in budget cuts and a recent 25 percent increase in the sales tax, from 5 percent to 6.25 percent. Patrick is considering even further budget cuts, and the state’s rainy day fund is at a recent low.

The governor noted Massachusetts is “faring better” than many other states, thanks to strength in its financial, health care, life sciences, alternative energy and educational sectors.

He added: “This time we went in [recession] later, not as deep as the rest of the country, and using that platform, we want to come out faster.”

The meeting is being organized by state Housing and Economic Development Secretary Greg Bialecki and Cathy Minehan, the former Boston Federal Reserve president who now serves as chairwoman of Patrick’s Council of Economic Advisors.

It will last a day or two and take place in late September or early October. The location still must be determined.

When the logistics are settled, the governor said the question he wants to ask everyone attending is: “Instead of just waiting for the economy to come around, how do we shape our future?”

In a related development, Patrick recently had some good news to report. More than 10,000 young people are spending at least some of their summer break working at jobs created by state and federal funding across Massachusetts.

The governor said the state has surpassed its initial summer jobs goal by committing more than $30 million in state and federal stimulus money to the task.

The money helped create jobs for young people between the ages of 14 and 24 in 60 cities and towns.

“Summer jobs are essential to helping our young people understand the importance of responsibility and commitment,” Patrick said in a statement. “Thanks to an innovative combination of state and federal recovery funds, more kids than ever have a chance to work, earn and learn this summer.”

The funding included $21 million in workforce development dollars provided to the state through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Young people have been placed in jobs in a wide variety of work settings, including hospitals, parks and nonprofit organizations.

“Summer jobs are a terrific way to stimulate the economy,” said U.S. Rep. Michael E. Capuano, D-Mass. ”We’re putting money in the pockets of teens who need it, and we are also creating a positive summer experience.”

Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development Secretary Suzanne M. Bump was equally pleased.

“We could not be more thrilled to have exceeded the governor’s goal of serving 10,000 young people,” Bump said. “This continues to be an extraordinary partnership between the state, the private sector and our workforce development system to put every dollar to work that we can towards economic recovery.

“Today’s youths are tomorrow’s workforce, and our investment in building their skills now will yield rewards in the future.”