On Dec. 1, MassINC gathered politicians, business leaders and philanthropists from Massachusetts at the Revere Hotel for its “Serious Fun”-themed 20th birthday party.
More than 320 people were in attendance to celebrate MassINC’s big day.
Proceeds will help the organization’s work creating opportunities for the middle class in Massachusetts through research such as its Gateway Cities Innovation Institute. The institute connects city communities across Massachusetts and provides research findings to city leaders.
“It’s a shot at protecting the American Dream,” said Greg Torres, president of MassINC.
The organization’s founding civic and business leaders wanted to provide “accurate, thorough and unbiased data to inform thoughtful policymaking,” according to MassINC’s website.
“At the very beginning, what you had was a small group of people who were frustrated by the nature of the political debate, the way it was so often dominated by interest groups on both sides on the political spectrum that had specific agendas,” MassINC’s co-founder, Tripp Jones, said in a video on the organization’s website about its 20th anniversary.
The middle class in Massachusetts are going through a “transformational event … that our politics couldn’t speak to,” Jones said.
He recognised that there is “a need to really do some research, and better understand exactly what’s happening, what’s driving it, and to be able to think differently about what could be done to address it, and how the politics of our time could be used to influence what is happening.”
In February 1996, MassINC released its policy report titled “The State of the American Dream in New England,” according to its website.
Two months later, MassINC began publishing CommonWealth Magazine, which eventually blossomed into a new outlet that covered politics, policy ideas and civic life in Massachusetts. The magazine’s inaugural issue was about “The changing economics of family life in Massachusetts.”
The magazine covers many niche topics, said Editor-in-Chief Bruce Mohl. Lately, they’ve done extensive coverage on energy resources, which he said is “an issue that you do not find mentioned in a lot of other publications,” he said. The magazine also offers platforms for commentary in areas of policy.
“We have a big commitment to offer space,” Mohl said.
Unlike newspapers that are downsizing due to struggles with ad revenue, Mohl explains that the magazine runs on a nonprofit business model and is still going strong.
“We’re gaining readership, so that is pretty good,” Mohl said.
In the future, Mohl said he wants to add more staff members. While the magazine shows no signs of slowing down, especially since it’s added a codcast—named after the “sacred cod” that hangs in the chamber of the House of Representatives.
So far, CommonWealth Magazine has produced 30 episodes of codcast and has tackled a range of issues from the late-night MBTA service, expanding charter schools, and legalising marijuana.
MassINC also held a “Serious Fun”-themed party to celebrate its 15th birthday. Tickets to this year’s event cost $500, and MassINC aims to raise $150,000.