“The Gateway Cities Caucus is about showing that we all have a common cause, that Springfield is as much a part of the Massachusetts story as Boston is,” Lesser said
SPRINGFIELD — Senator Eric P. Lesser was appointed Senate Chairman of the Gateway Cities caucus at its first meeting on Jan. 11 and pledged to continue fighting for a fair share of the state budget for Western Massachusetts.
The Gateway Cities legislative caucus was formed in 2008 to advocate for Massachusetts’ Gateway Cities, which include Springfield, Chicopee, Holyoke and Pittsfield in Western Massachusetts. Since then, the caucus’ representation has grown from 11 cities to include 26, with 57 House members, just under a third of the total, and 21 Senate members, more than half of the state senate.
Lesser represents two Gateway Cities, Springfield and Chicopee — a unique feature for a member of the caucus.
The chairmanship serves as a new platform for Lesser to advocate for Springfield and Chicopee, and to ensure that cities in Western Massachusetts receive more recognition for their contributions to the state — and a more proportionate share of the state’s budget.
“Families in the western half of the state have the same needs as families in the eastern half of the state: good jobs, good schools for their kids and hope for the future,” Lesser said. “The Gateway Cities Caucus is about showing that we all have a common cause, that Springfield is as much a part of the Massachusetts story as Boston is, that Chicopee has a common cause with New Bedford, with Holyoke, with Lowell.”
The Gateway Cities caucus addresses a wide range of issues affecting urban areas, from education to transportation to infrastructure and economic development.
“The Gateway Cities caucus has a tremendous record of success in bringing economic development projects to cities across Massachusetts. I look forward to working with the caucus to continue that progress,” Lesser said.
House Chairman, Representative Antonio F.D. Cabral, welcomed Lesser’s appointment and joined Lesser in praising the caucus’ work.
“We are excited to have Senator Lesser as the new Senate Chairman of the Massachusetts Gateway Cities Legislative Caucus,” Cabral said. “The Caucus has succeeded in increasing funding for public schools, municipal infrastructure and economic development in Massachusetts’ Gateway Cities, through programs like the Transformative Development Initiative and the Brownfields Redevelopment Fund.”
“Senator Lesser understands Gateway Cities and will continue the fight to revitalize these communities, whose success will benefit all of Massachusetts,” Cabral added.
Last year, caucus leaders worked to pass major economic investments in the state budget, including $500 million for the MassWorks grant, which will help finance building projects in the Gateway Cities.
The caucus also advocates for the Transformative Development Initiative (TDI), which is designed to enhance local public-private partnerships and funds a TDI fellow in Springfield who works on small business recruitment, retention and development efforts.
“Innovative solutions exist for issues like increasing capital for small businesses and attracting funding for development projects. The Gateway Cities caucus is finding these local solutions and championing them across the state,” Lesser said.