Thank you, Michael, for that warm welcome, and to the Massachusetts Business Roundtable and the Berkshire Business Roundtable for convening this event. As context for our discussion, I want to offer a few opening comments on our growth strategy, and how it has worked for the Commonwealth.
When I came to this job in 2007, I expected to face economic challenges, but not a global economic collapse.
We faced up to that challenge -- and many others -- together. We've invested time, money and ideas in education, innovation and infrastructure -- playing to our strengths and promoting our advantages to investors, inventors and innovators around the world.
Today, Massachusetts is first in the nation in student achievement, in health care coverage, in economic competitiveness, in entrepreneurial activity, in venture funding, in energy efficiency and in veterans' services.
Last week, the Labor Department reported that Massachusetts added over 55,000 jobs in 2013, the largest number of jobs created in a single year in nearly 15 years. The numbers are latest in a positive four-year trend.
Our biotech sector is one of the fastest growing in the world, our clean tech sector is seeing double-digit job growth, and we have trained over 100,000 people for jobs with these and other innovators.
Manufacturing in our state is growing more than 50 percent faster than in the nation as a whole, and seven times the rate it did during the previous administration.
We are rebuilding our infrastructure throughout the Commonwealth. Multi-family housing starts have tripled and commercial development is on the rebound.
Today, our doors are open to new markets around the world through new direct flights to Dublin, Madrid, Toronto, the Dominican Republic, Tokyo, Panama City, Istanbul, Dubai and Beijing; Logan saw record numbers of travelers in the last three years; and Worcester Airport is open for business.
That's just a little of what our strategy has produced for the Commonwealth as a whole. And Berkshire County has been a part of it -- from new buildings and labs at MCLA and Berkshire Community College to new streetscapes in Pittsfield and Great Barrington to a new 1,200-mile fiber optic cable to energy efficiency programs throughout the region.
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 and expand opportunity.
Our growth strategy is wise, our execution is collaborative, and our eye is on the future. Let's continue that progress in 2014.
I am thankful for and proud of the strong working relationships we have with the business community.
You have advocated for what you need to flourish and, in the spirit of partnership, we have responded time and again. We have eliminated or simplified over 210 outdated regulations; cut business taxes three times; slowed the growth in health care premiums; reduced auto insurance premiums; realigned our workforce training programs; frozen unemployment insurance rates; expanded science, math and technology education; and much more. By any reasonable measure, Massachusetts is a more competitive place for business today than it was seven years ago.
So, I'm here in that same spirit of partnership, and with a special delight in seeing my friends from the eastern part of the state out here in western Mass. in search of ways to leverage each other's strengths.
And I look forward to the conversation.