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On September 22, 2011, Massachusetts Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Greg Bialecki announced the appointment of Helena Fruscio to the position of Creative Economy Industry Director for the Commonwealth. This is great news for the many people who urged the Patrick-Murray Administration to continue its strong support for the creative economy in Massachusetts. Helena has been widely praised for her leadership as Director of Berkshire Creative in western Massachusetts since 2009. She has also has provided excellent leadership and input into the work of the Creative Economy Council and, more recently, as a gubernatorial appointee to the Economic Development Planning Council.  That work also gives her a running head start into the issues that face creative businesses across the state. Helena's priorities include working with the Massachusetts Creative Economy Council to aggregate governmental, non-governmental, regional, and private resources that are available to the creative industry statewide. Helena also hopes to enhance the connectivity of the industry through the use of social networking, this blog, and other internet tools. We look forward to working with her when she starts to work on October 24, 2011. 

With Helena’s appointment, this is also a good time to take a look at what we’ve accomplished in the Creative Economy over the past few years.  Most people following this blog know the incredible difference that the former Creative Economy Industry Director, Jason Schupbach, made during his time with the Patrick-Murray Administration.  He established the agenda, network and enthusiasm that catalyzed our work. 

In the past year and half, we’ve continued to make progress.  Here are a few of the most notable accomplishments: 

  1. The Design Industry Group of Massachusetts (DIGMA) has held two major conferences, Design Means Business at Reebok and MassMade at Gillette.  The conferences brought together leading figures in the design industry with business leaders, manufacturers and policy makers to envision how to strengthen the state’s economic competitiveness by leveraging the world-class presence of our nearly 48,000 design professionals in Massachusetts.
  2. Becker College, with the support and assistance of Lieutenant Governor Murray, and through him Housing and Economic Development and the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, has launched the Massachusetts Digital Games Institute (MassDigi) to accelerate the growth of the state’s competitive and growing interactive games industry.  MassDigi recently received a $500,000 competitive award from the U.S. Economic Development Administration, which is tremendous validation of their progress to-date.
  3. The Patrick-Murray Administration has sustained a high-level of support for the creative organizations through the Massachusetts Cultural Council’s Cultural Facilities Fund.  The fund received $7 million in FY 2011 and has received $14 million overall since a reauthorization of the fund in 2008. 
  4. Finally, the Massachusetts Legislature provided terrific leadership in passing legislation authorizing the creation of state-designated Cultural Districts in municipalities in the state.  The program is administered by the Massachusetts Cultural Council and has long been sought by artists and municipalities as a means of focusing attention and resources to growing neighborhoods with established cultural assets and organizations.

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