April 7th Information & Resource Update
MPOs Prepare to Release Draft Transportation
Improvement Programs for Public Comment

Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) across the state are preparing to release their draft Transportation Improvement Programs (TIPs): five-year rolling capital plans for surface transportation and transit projects that are programmed with federal funding.

The release of each draft will be followed by a 21-day public comment period prior to endorsement. Once each TIP is formally endorsed by their respective MPO boards, the MassDOT Office of Transportation Planning will compile each list, alongside MassDOT statewide priority projects, to release a comprehensive State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP), which must be financially constrained to the federal funding amounts allocated to Massachusetts.

495/MetroWest communities are spread across five MPO regions: Boston, Central Massachusetts, Montachusett, Northern Middlesex, and Southeastern Massachusetts.

The development schedule for each TIP can be found below:

Boston MPO
495/MetroWest Communities: Acton, Ashland, Bellingham, Bolton, Boxborough, Foxborough, Framingham, Franklin, Holliston, Hopkinton, Hudson, Littleton, Marlborough, Maynard, Medfield, Medway, Milford, Millis, Natick, Norfolk, Sherborn, Southborough, Stow, Sudbury, Wayland, Wrentham
  • Anticipated Draft Release Date – April 28th
  • Anticipated Endorsement Date – May 26th

Central Massachusetts MPO
495/MetroWest Communities: Berlin, Grafton, Hopedale, Northborough, Shrewsbury, Upton, Westborough
  • Anticipated Draft Release Date – April 20th
  • Anticipated Endorsement Date – May 18th

Montachusett MPO
495/MetroWest Communities: Harvard
  • Anticipated Draft Release Date – April 20th
  • Anticipated Endorsement Date – May 18th

Northern Middlesex MPO
495/MetroWest Communities: Westford
  • Anticipated Draft Release Date – April 27th
  • Anticipated Endorsement Date – May 25th

Southeastern Massachusetts MPO
495/MetroWest Communities: Plainville
  • Anticipated Draft Release Date – April 19th
  • Anticipated Endorsement Date – TBD

Timeline for State Transportation Improvement Program
  • April: MPOs release TIPs for 21-day public comment period
  • May: MassDOT compiles draft TIPs into the STIP and releases for public comment; MPOs endorse respective TIPs
  • June: MassDOT compiles the endorsed TIPs into the final STIP and transmits to approving partners at Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), Federal Transit Administration (FTA), U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP)
  • October: MassDOT begins advertising projects in new Federal Fiscal Year

Although MPO budgets were programmed for the current fiscal year and for FY23-27 based on funding allotments from the previous federal surface transportation authorization act, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will infuse MPOs with a higher total funding amount; anticipated funding increases will vary across each MPO. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law also created new dedicated formula programs for targeted infrastructural purposes, including a new National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure formula program (NEVI). A fact sheet for all Federal Highway Administration formula programs can be accessed here.

The 495/MetroWest Partnership encourages municipalities to engage with their MPO about how new federal program funds will be tapped and expended towards projects in their region, and about funding opportunities for surface transportation projects that have been screened by MassDOT, but are not currently programmed for TIP funding. Municipalities that are looking to submit new highway projects must go through the MassDOT Highway initiation process. You can track all highway projects that have an assigned MassDOT project number, including those that have not been programmed for TIP funding using this tool.
Governor Signs Supplemental State Budget Extending Outdoor Dining, To-Go Alcoholic Beverages

Earlier this week, Governor Baker signed into law substantial portions of H.4578, An Act Making Appropriations for Fiscal Year 2022 to Provide for Supplementing Certain Existing Appropriations and for Certain Other Activities and Projects, a $1.6 billion supplemental budget for the current fiscal year.

Per the Massachusetts Municipal Association (MMA), the legislation included a one-year extension of rules for expanded outdoor dining and takeout cocktails. An executive order issued in response to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 allowed municipalities to use an expedited process to approve temporary permits for new or expanded outdoor dining and alcohol service. Those rules were due to expire on April 1st of this year, but are now extended through April 1st, 2023.

The law also extends an emergency provision allowing restaurants to sell beer, wine and cocktails to go. That provision was due to expire on May 1st, 2033, but is now continued through April 1st, 2023.

The legislation also included $100 million in winter road recovery funds may be used for the rehabilitation, reconstruction, resurfacing or preservation of local roads. The funds may also be used to repair or replace traffic control devices, signage, guardrails, and storm grates, as well as road striping or painting.
MassBio Releases Life Sciences Development Guide
for Municipal Leaders

MassBio has released a guide targeted towards municipal officials, providing an overview of the life sciences industry, how biotech facilities operate, and how communities can best position themselves for successful biotech development.

Topics covered within the guide include general characteristics of life sciences facilities, general safety and regulatory information, and notes on attracting life sciences development. The guide also offers details regarding MassBio's "BioReady" rating system, which determines a municipality's readiness to host biotech facilities. There are currently 90 BioReady communities across the Commonwealth that have received this designation.

Digital Technology Companies: MassTech Intern Partnership
Supporting Intern Reimbursement

Administered by the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, the MassTech Intern Partnership (MTIP) program provides stipends to digital technology companies that are starting and scaling-up across Massachusetts to directly support internships for Massachusetts college and graduate students.

The program enables eligible companies to hire eligible interns. Companies can be reimbursed for up to 50% of the intern's hourly wage up to $8 per hour for a total of $3,200 per year, per individual intern. Eligible companies may apply for up to 2 interns per period. This year, eligible companies in the priority focus areas of Cybersecurity, Digital Health, Fintech, and Robotics may apply for up to 3 interns per program period. All interns must be compensated as employees, not contractors, with required payroll withholdings.

The 2022 MTIP program continues to support digital technology startups and tech companies on the critical pathway to growth. In order to be eligible to participate, companies must:
  • be headquartered in Massachusetts
  • have 250 or fewer employees
  • hire an eligible intern this summer
  • pay the intern as a W-2 employee with required payroll withholdings

MTIP began accepting applications on April 1st; click here to learn more about the program
Upcoming Regional Employer "Road Shows"
Focused on Workforce Development

The Massachusetts Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development (EOHED) is promoting opportunities for employers to learn about the Commonwealth’s workforce programs and resources.

EOHED, along with MassHire Career Centers and Workforce Boards and the Commonwealth Corporation, is hosting a series of 10 regional employer "road shows" from late April to May, with the goal of connecting employers to new and existing workforce supports from the Commonwealth. Click here to learn more, and to register.

The MetroWest session will be held on Monday, April 25th, at 4:30 PM at the Joseph P. Keefe Technical High School in Framingham.

The roadshows will be a unique opportunity to hear from state workforce leaders, and for employers to share their perspectives with them. Senior administration officials will be in attendance at each session.

The roadshows will be hosted by workforce partners, including community colleges and vocational training institutes. Each event will be approximately 1.5 hours. Topics addressed will include an overview of Commonwealth workforce resources for employers, information about how the MassHire system can help your company build a pipeline of skilled employees, and how you can access state workforce funding.
REMINDER: Grant Funding Available to Employers
to Support Hiring & Training

Last month, the Commonwealth announced a new hiring and training employer grant program, “HireNow,” which is designed to help employers quickly hire and train new workers. The new program provides eligible employers with a $4,000 per-employee grant, which can be used to cover training costs or as a signing bonus for new employees. 
The program is open to all Massachusetts employers, including both for-profit and non-profit entities (excluding federal, state, and municipal governments). 

Any Massachusetts employer who is in good standing with Department of Unemployment Assistance and Department of Revenue obligations and is not de-barred by the state is eligible (excluding federal, state, and municipal governments). Applications must be submitted by the employer, not an education or training partner.

To apply, employers must pre-register online at Mass.Gov/HireNow. Following the employee’s hire and 60-day retention period, employers will submit a final application for funding. The Commonwealth will also approve the planned use of the funds (training costs, signing bonus, etc.) when approving the application. Hires must be made after March 23rd, 2022, be retained for a minimum of 60 days, and be placed in jobs that are at least 30 hours per week. New hires need to be Massachusetts residents employed in Massachusetts. 
There are also limits on compensation:
  • Minimum eligible compensation: $14.25 per hour (minimum wage)
  • Maximum eligible compensation: $42.50 per hour (approximately $85,000 annualized)

Employers will be funded up to $4,000 for each eligible employee hired, with a limit of $400,000 per employer. Funds will be provided on a first-come, first-served basis. Click here to access complete program and application information
Recent 495/MetroWest Partnership Events:
Recordings & Related Materials

All Partnership events and committee meetings are being held virtually, via Zoom, at present. Committee meetings posted here are open to all interested persons with advance registration.

  • Massachusetts Clean Water Trust: On Wednesday, March 16th, 2022 the Water Resources Committee of the 495/MetroWest Partnership hosted a presentation on the Massachusetts Clean Water Trust. The Massachusetts Clean Water Trust is a state agency that provides low-interest loans to municipalities and other eligible entities for the purpose of improving water quality throughout the Commonwealth. Loan funding is provided through the Massachusetts State Revolving Fund. Nate Keenan, Deputy Director of the Clean Water Trust, provided an overview of resources available, as well as information regarding new sources of funding coming to Massachusetts. Click here to access a recording of this event

To view all upcoming events or view recordings of past virtual events, visit the "Events & Committee Meetings" section of our website 495Partnership.org.
As always, please do not hesitate to reach out if the Partnership can be of any assistance to you:
Jason Palitsch, Executive Director
(774) 760-0495

Thank you for your continued commitment to strengthening our region.