Thank you, Secretary Sullivan, for that warm introduction and for your leadership on executing our vision for a clean energy future. I'd also like to thank Alicia Barton and her team at MassCEC for their vision and leadership, and for hosting this event today.
It's good to see so many of you here. You're in the right place at the right time.
Massachusetts has a robust and growing clean energy marketplace with a burgeoning testing ground for new ideas. Indeed, I want to take a little time at the podium today to place what you are doing in a larger context.
I have spoken often over the past several years about how we support public education and close the achievement gap, how we expand quality, affordable health care and control costs, how we stimulate innovative industries, how we rebuild our roads, rails and bridges. Over and over again, I have stressed the importance of investing in education, innovation and infrastructure, because doing so is a winning strategy for growth. That's all about "how."
As we look ahead, as both leaders of our clean tech industry, and as citizens, let's remember why growth matters. For me, it's all about opportunity.
The opportunity to build a better life for ourselves and our families is what drives most of us in this room. We have a generational responsibility to position our state to succeed in the 21st century. Meeting that responsibility by expanding opportunity for people all over Massachusetts is why I wanted this job in the first place.
Well, opportunity requires growth. An expanding economy needs well-prepared and competitive talent. It needs inventors and innovators and investors. Opportunity without growth is a zero-sum gain, just a rearranging of the pieces on a checkers board. Opportunity through economic growth lifts us all.
That growth comes mainly from you. Business creates jobs, not government. In my private sector experience, what business wants first from government is a light touch on regulation and taxes. So, we eliminated or simplified over 130 unnecessary regulations; reduced the permitting time for state approvals from two years to about 60 days; cut business taxes three times so far; slowed the growth in health care premiums; and much more. By any reasonable measure, Massachusetts is a more competitive place for business today than it was seven years ago.
Another, larger lesson I learned in the private sector is that growth requires investment. And to support business growth -- and the opportunity that depends on it -- government must invest alongside business.
So, for the past seven years, we have invested strategically in education, innovation and infrastructure. Here's why.
In Massachusetts, education is our calling card. With over 300 colleges, universities and research institutions within a 90-minute drive of where we are right now, education is our most significant resource -- as important to Massachusetts as oil is to Texas and corn is to Iowa.
So, with the Legislature's help, we funded the public schools at the highest level in our history, even when the bottom was falling out of the budget. We worked to bring kids off the wait-list into quality early education programs and to make college more affordable. And we engaged our community colleges in the vital work of meeting our workforce needs, leveraging our training dollars.
We invest in innovation because there are a handful of high growth industries that depend on the concentration of brainpower we have. That's what the life sciences initiative is about, our $1 billion, 10-year commitment to strengthen our biotech sector. That's why we travel to other states and overseas to promote our financial services and digital gaming and robotics and cyber security and Big Data expertise, and why we built -- with five universities and two IT companies -- the fastest and greenest high performance computing center east of the Mississippi in downtown Holyoke. That's what our clean and alternative energy programs are about, from stewarding the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, the nation's first successful cap and trade market, to enabling a 30-fold increase in wind generation and a 90-fold increase in solar.
And we invest in infrastructure -- the unglamorous work of government -- because it supports everything else. Roads, rails, and bridges, as well as broadband, public and affordable housing, lab and library facilities, even health care -- all things the public sector builds as a platform for private sector investment and personal ambition.
Education, innovation and infrastructure. That's our growth strategy. And it is working.
Massachusetts has climbed out of recession faster than most other states and is growing faster than the national growth rate. Early this year we re-gained all the jobs lost in the Great Recession, one of the first states in America to achieve that milestone, and we have continued to add jobs since. September was the best month in home sales in Massachusetts since 2005.
We are first in the nation in student achievement -- at or near the top in the world in math and science. We are also first in the nation in economic competitiveness, entrepreneurial activity, health care coverage, veterans' services and energy efficiency.
And we have done it responsibly. Our budgets are balanced and on-time, our bond rating is the highest in our history, and we have one of the largest rainy day funds in America.
That's what our strategy has produced for the Commonwealth as a whole. And clean energy has been central to that strategy.
We have become a national leader in clean and alternative energy, with double-digit job growth in the latter sector in each of the last few years. More than 5,500 clean energy firms employ nearly 80,000 clean energy workers in Massachusetts today.
We rank No. 1 in the U.S. for clean energy investments and more firms are getting underway or getting bigger everyday.
Last week, for example, I visited Ambri, an advanced battery developer, to cut the ribbon on a new manufacturing facility in Marlborough. Born from MIT and backed by ARPA-E funding and the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, Ambri received a Rising Star Award this fall in a global ranking of clean energy companies by its peers.
We are home to the Fraunhofer Center for Sustainable Energy Systems, an applied research and development laboratory dedicated to the commercialization of clean energy technologies.
Just around the corner, Next Step Living -- an energy efficiency start-up with only a handful of employees when I took office -- employs 500 people today and is listed on the Inc. 500 list of fastest growing companies in America.
Also close by, Boston-based Digital Lumens has developed energy efficient lighting systems that have cut their customers' energy use by 90 percent. They started in 2009, employ more than 60 workers today, and efficiently light 500 facilities around the world.
North Andover-based Panel Claw, a solar panel mounting equipment business, launched just in 2008 and had revenues in excess of $30 million last year.
We have rank first in the U.S. for energy efficiency for 3 years in a row, where $2 billion of investment has produced $6 billion in savings and over 46,000 jobs. The City of Boston was also recognized in September as America's most energy efficient city.
I mentioned that, because of policies we put in place, we have 90 times as much installed solar as we did when I took office. Earlier this year, we blew through my ambitious goal of 250 megawatts by 2017. So, I set a new one -- 1.6 gigawatts by 2020.
The point is: this strategy is not rhetorical. It's real. This is how we use public investment -- of time, money and ideas -- to stimulate private sector growth.
After all, economic growth, across the whole of the Commonwealth, is our goal. Investing in education, innovation and infrastructure is how we stimulate growth.
As I wrap up, I want to return to why that matters, why economic growth and the opportunity it promises matters.
Opportunity is central to who we are as a nation.
America, unlike any other nation on earth, is organized around civic ideals. Not religion or race, not language or geography, like other countries, but transcendent statements of civic purpose. And we have defined those ideals, over time and through struggle, as freedom, equality and fair play. That's what America has been about for more people, for a longer time, than any other nation in human history.
Opportunity is what makes all our other civic ideals possible. But opportunity is not inevitable; it doesn't just happen. Each generation of Americans has had to strive and to sacrifice to make opportunity real. Whether it was freeing the slaves or giving women the vote in one era; the GI Bill, rural electrification or the interstate highway system in another; or expanding broadband and early education, and closing the achievement gap today, making opportunity real requires action.
Renewed action is critical today.
In a society dedicated to equality, income inequality is getting worse. As we emerge from the global recession, for those already college educated and with transferable skills, the knowledge-based job market is wide open. Those already with money to invest benefit from the resurgence of the Dow.
But the ability of people to bridge that gap is harder than ever. The poor are no longer just the abject destitute: nearly half of food stamp recipients in Massachusetts are working people. Just a few weeks ago, the homeless population living in motels hit an all-time high, many of them school age children. Many middle class families where both parents work still can't get ahead, let alone imagine a better life for their children. According to Opportunity Nation, for the first time in America, today's young adults risk having lower educational attainment rates, on average, than their parents. Only six percent of children born to parents at the bottom make it to the top. Children in many European countries now have greater socio-economic mobility than those in the United States.
The American Dream is in trouble. For this Commonwealth and this country to be true to her civic ideals, opportunity has to be accessible to all our residents, not just the favored few. And again, opportunity requires action. That means we must make public investments mindful of the lack of opportunity of the left out and left back. If the American Dream is to endure, we who benefit first from economic recovery need to care about those who benefit last, or not at all.
One of the traditions of Massachusetts governors is that you hang the portrait of a former governor over the fireplace in the governor's office, as a source of inspiration, I suppose, or perhaps just as a reminder that you are but one in a long line of others. I'll bet every one of my predecessors wondered at some point, as I do now, whether anything they accomplished would last. We have shown that investing in education, innovation and infrastructure, alongside reform and modernization of government itself, is a way not just to endure recession but also to shape a brighter future. More than anything, I hope what lasts is a broad understanding that growth is a choice and that opportunity for all is why that choice matters. For the sake of the next generation's opportunity, choose wisely.
Thank you again for the work you do. I look forward to our continued work together.