Patrick joined researchers from North­eastern Uni­ver­sity who pre­sented a report showing that the state has given out $56.6 mil­lion in tax credits, and life sci­ences com­pa­nies have cre­ated 2,537 new jobs in Mass­a­chu­setts. The news was, in part, a pitch to the pri­vate sector for help — encour­aging investors to put money into clus­ters of firms over indi­vidual start-​​ups.

Inno­va­tion is a process,” said Susan Windham-​​Bannister, pres­i­dent of the Life Sci­ences Center and founder of Abt Bio-​​Pharma Solu­tions. “The job cre­ation results were crit­ical and we really have to think both short-​​term and long-​​term. And that’s really the reason for our approaching this with a port­folio of investments.”

But it’s not clear whether tax credits are the direct cause of the life sci­ences sector growing at a faster pace than any other industry sector in the commonwealth.

The life sci­ences credit is prob­ably as well designed as a credit like this can be,” said Peter Enrich a law pro­fessor at North­eastern. “But it suf­fers from one basic flaw, which is that there’s no way to tell whether the jobs it is sub­si­dizing would have been here in the absence of the credit.”

Enrich points out that com­pa­nies can easily say they’re thinking about growing or moving to another state in order to attract tax credits and other incen­tives. But even if the Life Sci­ences Center isn’t on track to create the 250,000 jobs it had orig­i­nally hoped for by 2018, it isn’t spending as much either. Thanks to state budget cuts, less than a third of the $1 bil­lion pledged has been spent on tax credits, grants and loans.

Read the article at WGBH →