09 Feb Gov. Baker plans to slash ‘Global Entrepreneur in Residence’ program
Gov. Charlie Baker plans to cut a pilot program established by Deval Patrick last year that gives foreign students who attended Massachusetts colleges and universities the option of staying in the Bay State to build their businesses.
Patrick established the so-called “Global Entrepreneur in Residence Program,”administered by the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, last year as a way to keep talent within Massachusetts. The program, which would cost $1 million for a one-year pilot, would help those foreign students get part-time jobs and jumpstart the H-1B visa application process — acting as a workaround to restrictive federal immigration policy.
The program’s demise is part of $500 million in proposed cuts to close a budget gap Baker inherited when he took office last month.
“These adjustments were considered carefully, understanding that the decisions we make today are crucial to implementing responsible fiscal planning for the future,” said Baker in a statement. “Thankfully, our response to the spending problem we inherited protects local aid, taxpayers and critical services for people without drawing from the rainy day fund.”
But those who see a value in keeping talent in Massachusetts see Baker’s decision differently.
“This was a perfect piece of public policy which said in a meaningful way, ‘We are an innovation state,'” said C.A. Webb, the executive director of the New England Venture Capital Association.
Jeff Bussgang, a general partner at Boston venture firm Flybridge Capital who originally conceived the idea for the program, said that it was an unfortunate decision.
“I don’t honestly know if the governor really appreciates how powerful this program is,” he said.
Bussgang, who also teaches at Harvard Business School, said he saw the need for the program after watching immigrant entrepreneurs in his class leave the state after graduation to start their own companies.
Even though the program never officially got off the ground, the Mass. Technology Collaborative quietly tested it last spring. Bussgang said two Harvard students have already benefitted: an Ireland native who was going to move to California to start a business and an India native who was going to move to move back there to start a company.