BOSTON -- Promoting the purchase of "MassMade" goods sounds like a good economic boost to the state's economy, but local experts expressed mixed reviews on a legislative initiative moving ahead on Beacon Hill.
A "MassMade" bill authored by Sen. Eileen Donoghue of Lowell was approved in the Senate on Thursday. It would identify, connect and promote business entities that produce consumer goods in Massachusetts.
Donoghue said the legislation would provide additional marketing boosts for companies producing consumer products in the commonwealth and encourage Massachusetts residents to buy local.
"(The MassMade program) is designed to help assist those Massachusetts companies to broaden their exposure and to have a go-to site operated by the state where people who are interested in Massachusetts-made products or goods can go and peruse what is there," Donoghue told the Sentinel and Enterprise prior to Thursday's vote.
Christa Marr, an assistant professor of economics at Fitchburg State University, said the state's economy could benefit from the program by driving consumers to purchase locally made goods, which in turn would allow more money to remain in the commonwealth.
"It would be great if there is more support for local businesses like bike shops, boutiques, community supported agriculture as compared to shopping at bigger sporting goods stores or bigger supermarkets," Marr said.
Marr said the program would help small business tackle the issue of awareness and accessibility while creating greater resistance against economic downturns.
Roy Nascimento, president and CEO of the North Central Massachusetts Chamber of Commerce, said he thinks the initiative would be well-received among the region's 440 manufacturers, as long as participation in the program is voluntary.
"Manufacturing is a very strong industry especially here in North Central Massachusetts," Nascimento said. "These tend to be good jobs, they pay above average wages, they tend to offer good benefits, so this is an industry we want to support."
He added, "I think this in particular would help those smaller manufacturers that really want to showcase their products because there is more awareness among consumers that shopping local is important."
But David Kingsley, an associate professor of economics at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, offered a different view. He said he does not foresee the legislation having a significant impact on the state's economy, partly because small business growth will require the support of customers outside of Massachusetts.
"I don't think a little sticker that says 'MassMade' is going to help that firm grow," Kingsley said. "You're going to need outside consumers and why outside Massachusetts consumers would react to MassMade product marketing is unknown. Indeed, it could hurt the firm going forward."
Kingsley said the legislation "would benefit from more specific language" to establish parameters regarding what constitutes a consumer product made in Massachusetts.
"How are you going to define Massachusetts made and who gets the marketing? I think those rules would be difficult to write," Kingsley said. "I don't know how they're going to draw lines between different consumer products and what percent of the value added has to come out of Massachusetts."