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Boston and Cambridge Joint Hearing to Focus on Metropolitan Area Talent Retention

World Class Cities PartnershipAlthough Boston and Cambridge have both transformed into centers for technology and innovation because of investments by public, private and non-profit institutions, many challenges lie ahead including how to retain the talent needed to maintain and grow these important facets of each city’s economic vibrancy.  According to an upcoming “Talent Magnets” report by the World Class Cities Partnership (WCCP), approximately 53% of 2005 college graduates left Boston for another city. 

At the WCCP-sponsored Chatham Forum on January 25, 2013, Boston City Councillor Tito Jackson and Cambridge City Councillor Leland Cheung made an exciting announcement.  They are building a partnership between the two cities to generate further technological advancement and next-generation employment opportunities for the metropolitan area. 

WCCP Partner CitiesWorld Class Cities Partnership

 The World Class Cities Partnership (WCCP) is an international urban research organization based at Northeastern University.  Mike Lake and Dan Spiess are the Executive Director and Research Directors, respectively. 

The mission of  the WCCP is "to bring together civic, business and academic leaders from cities spanning the globe for the purpose of creating sustainable social change through policy research, development and implementation of best practice solutions to common challenges."

Their partnership with cities around the globe demonstrates the organization's international outlook:  Barcelona, Boston, Dublin, Guadalajara, Haifa, Hamburg, Lisbon, Lyon and Vancouver. 

Boston's local coordinator for WCCP is District 7 Councillor Tito Jackson.

World Class Cities Partnership is one of many statewide efforts to promote cultural understanding and economic continuity between the Greater Boston area and the world.  The organization’s report shares the best practices for talent attraction and retention from cities around the world.  WCCP states that talent is a major currency driving smart economic growth in urban areas, leading to more jobs and increased cultural richness.

“The Talent Magnets report demonstrates the opportunity for Massachusetts and the Boston-Cambridge region to shift the discourse around talent retention to one that includes student integration, young professional lifestyles and not just affordable housing,” Michael Lake, Executive Director of WCCP

The Chatham Forum

Every year the WCCP holds an annual Chatham Forum (in Chatham MA) which is a strongly results-oriented, two-day conference and networking retreat focused on addressing economic development and civic engagement opportunities in Massachusetts and Greater Boston.

Bringing together civic, academic and business leaders in a free-flowing setting, the Chatham Forum views itself as a springboard for innovation.  The atmosphere encourages collaboration and joint initiatives and projects that will have a lasting impact in the community. 

The Chatham Forum is a reiteration of the former "City to City Chatham” retreats which began in 2006.

Vital to the flavor of the Chatham Forum is the concept of "unConference" - a way of conducting the forum that promotes creativity, getting inspired and taking risks.  Participants are encouraged to take the initiative, to propose concepts and ideas and build a team of collaborators and advocates to implement their visions long after the Forum ends.

The 2013 Chatham Forum took place January 25-26 and began with an overview of the key takeaways from the October Mission to Portugal, including solutions to such urban challenges as eliminating high school dropout rates, promoting the innovative city, incentivizing the private sector to achieve public sector priorities and increasing citizen engagement.

Forum attendees included Massachusetts leaders who are known to be innovative and strategically engaged, who share their ideas and projects for improving the Commonwealth and the greater Boston region.
  • What new and innovative ideas could be generated?
  • What action steps could be taken?
All with the goal of helping to make Massachusetts communities into more vibrant ecosystems for young people, entrepreneurs, businesses and citizens alike?

Chatham Forum Outcomes

Consistent with the "unConference" loose and spontaneous orientation of the forum, participants organized themselves into self-selected sessions.  "Vote with their feet," they were told.  Attend as many of the concurrent brainstorming sessions you are interested in.  "Action" is the by-word.  Generate action items for each of the topics offered by attendees.

The first announcement of the weekend came from Boston City Councilor Tito Jackson and Cambridge City Councilor Leland Cheung.  In partnership with WCCP, the two sister cities will be hosting an historic joint council hearing focusing on the issue of talent attraction and retention, a topic that is covered in the upcoming release of WCCP’s “Talent Magnets” report.

Participants engaged in modern, globally-oriented thinking:
  • How to create innovation spaces for areas of the city that need it most
  • How to connect small and medium-sized enterprises with global partners
  • Ways to encourage recent immigrants to be more entrepreneurial
  • Reusing (recycling) existing and abandoned buildings for new uses
  • Housing solutions for workers in the innovation economy
Specific ideas that were generated as a result of this thinking:
  • Startup Lisboa is now being considered as a model for a potential Startup Roxbury.
  • Old buildings in Charlestown may now “Recycle History”
  • Housing in the innovation economy is now more expansive and inclusive than simply providing micro-units for 20-somethings.
  • Plans are already in the works for a day-long gathering of international players to discuss incentives and opportunities to take local businesses into the global marketplace.

More on the Joint Hearing Announcement

On January 31, 2013, the City Councils in Boston and Cambridge announced that, in collaboration with World Class Cities Partnership (WCCP), they will be holding a joint-hearing to discuss issues of talent retention and job growth in the Greater Boston area. 

Boston City Councillor Tito Jackson Boston and Cambridge are linked historically, culturally and economically.  This effort marks an important step in these cities’ relationship as we move further into the global and technologically-driven 21st century.  Developing job growth and technological enhancement together will only help these cities function as an economic unit.

Cambridge City Councillor Leland Cheung The intellectual, moral, and cultural climates of Cambridge and Boston are constantly evolving as a result of the ideas, passions, and innovations of our student population.  It is essential that the City of Cambridge and the City of Boston work collaboratively to ensure that graduates of our colleges and universities feel confident that the Commonwealth is a place where they will be able to grow and thrive.

Each city has its own committee that focuses on technology, innovation and jobs growth.
  • Cambridge’s Committee on Neighborhood and Long-Term Planning
  • Boston’s Committee on Global Opportunities and Innovation and Technology
The two committees will meet to confer over the best practices featured in recently-announced report published by the WCCP.   This effort began with a 2010 joint-hearing spearheaded by Councillor Cheung and District 8 Boston City Councillor Michael Ross, who was then the City Council President. 

While Cambridge and Boston are distinct American cities, both thrive off the other’s success.  The discussion will generate a collaborative checklist for public and private institutions to promote the regional economic and cultural advancement.

Contact Information
Michael Lake, WCCP Executive Director




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Posted: February 4, 2013     Nancy J Conrad

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