Cheung launches an agenda-setting tour today for Innovate Massachusetts group
Entrepreneurs and the tech industry have a champion in city councillor Leland Cheung, whose Innovate Massachusetts Alliance is going on a small listening tour for priorities to bring to new Gov. Charlie Baker.
“We’ll be crowdsourcing the agenda with caucuses around the Commonwealth. What gets included – non-competes, STEM education, local policy – will be up to you. Anything that helps build the economy of tomorrow is on the table,” Cheung said in an explanatory press release.
The tour starts at 5 p.m. today at Workbar, 45 Prospect St., Central Square, with PayPal Chief Operating Officer David Chang as a guest; hits Greentown Labs at 28 Dane St., Somerville, at noon Thursday; moves on to Worcester; returns to Cambridge at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 22 for a gathering at the Venture Café, 101 Main St., Kendall Square; then heads off to Springfield and Lowell.
Cheung said the group’s first step was a letter to Baker asking that his transition team include a separate group representing the “innovation economy” and the community’s agenda.
That mission got a boost in late December, as outgoing Gov. Deval Patrick appointed Cheung to be one of 15 board members of the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, a 33-year-old group created by the Legislature to fight for tech as a state priority.
Cheung ran for lieutenant governor last year, winning an endorsement from The Boston Globe “by dint of his determination to reject the past uses of the job as a political liaison with strong links to patronage [and instead] advocate for broadband access and high-tech jobs to underserved areas.” Steve Kerrigan, a former aide to the late U.S. Sen. Ted Kennedy and chief of staff to former Attorney General Tom Reilly, beat him in a primary, with 51 percent of the vote to Cheung’s 30 percent.
Cheung shook off the defeat.
“I realized I don’t actually need to be in office to help affect regional cooperation and the growth of the innovation economy that I talked about during the campaign,” Cheung said.
His Innovate MA group aims to come up with a nonpartisan agenda “to promote policies that support job creation, workforce readiness and economic competitiveness relative to other hubs of innovation,” Cheung said, as well as to cast a net wide enough to cover everything from robotics and the arts to food trucks and urban agriculture.