According to the MIT study, principally underwritten by Fleet Financial Group, the Boston Harbor economy generated a gross annual product of some $36.5 billion in 1997 and employed approximately 675,000 persons, primarily concentrated in health care, finance, information technology, consulting and education. Once completed, the new development associated with the South Boston Seaport District and elsewhere along Boston's waterfront, over and above what is anticipated for the new Convention Center, is expected to inject salaries, wages and business income of over $2.2 billion per year into Boston's harbor economy.
The economics study was conducted by the Massachusetts Institute of
Technology Dept. of Urban Studies and Planning in conjunction with "The
Boston Harbor Conference," being convened by MIT and The Boston Globe.
|Increased economic activity resulting from the invigorated Boston Harbor economy will require 5,000 new hotel rooms over and above the 3,000 hotel rooms currently planned to support Boston's new Convention Center. The tax revenues generated will be sufficient to offset the $1 billion assumed necessary by the study to cover the continuing clean up of Boston Harbor and its tributary rivers;|
|Tax revenues resulting from the increased harbor economic activity would also be available to underwrite $1 billion in new transportation infrastructure investments;|
|The Boston Harbor economy's estimated total employment of over 781,000 persons by the year 2010 would create a demand for more than 37,000 new units of housing in Suffolk County;|
|Logan International Airport will likely reach its maximum capacity of 40 million passengers per year before the year 2010, assuming a full-build out of the South Boston Seaport District over the next decade. This cap in passenger volume would result in a major drag on Boston's regional economy unless further capacity is provided at Logan or elsewhere;|
|The decline of the Port of Boston as a major cargo shipping destination over the last 30 years may be irreversible unless substantial investments are made to turn the port into a regional containerized shipping node. Pending such efforts, the port's contribution to the regional economy will continue to be minimal.|
The MIT analysis of development impacts was based on a maximum build-out
of 19 million square feet of
development in and around the Boston Harbor waterfront, with a majority of the development accounted for by the year 2010 within the 1000-acre South Boston Seaport District bounded by Fort Point Channel, Summer Street and the Connolly Pier.
Commenting on the analysis, Prof. John de Monchaux of MIT's School of Architecture and Planning, noted that Boston has before it an historic opportunity for growing its economy and designing a world class waterfront. "Development of the South Boston Seaport District represents a 100-year opportunity to reconnect the historic city with its harbor and improve the quality of life for local residents, workers and visitors alike," he said. "Through implementation of a bold and thoughtful plan, Boston can leverage private sector development to achieve urban amenities equal to the highest standards for waterfronts in the world."
The MIT analysis forecasts nearly flat population growth for Suffolk County through the year 2010. While not a focus of the analysis, job training and education are seen as key requirements in the advanced waterfront economy.
"Filling the new jobs created by the development of the South Boston Seaport District and elsewhere in Suffolk County will require education and extensive job training, according to Sara Johnson, chief economist of Standard and Poor's DRI, one of the nation's leading economic consulting firms, which collaborated on the study.
"Maintaining a highly trained and motivated work force is among the most important requirements for ensuring that the Boston Harbor economy reaches its optimal performance level in the first decade of the next century," she said.
The study found a significant relationship between the needs of Boston Harbor's advance economy and Logan Airport modernization. "The majority of high-skilled service industries are greatly dependent on air travel," commented Alvaro Pereira of MIT's Dept. of Urban Studies and Planning. "The Boston Harbor economy, including the Convention Center and other anticipated waterfront activities, will require increasing the efficiency and capacity of Logan Airport, as well as improved inter-city high- speed rail service," noted Pereira.
While Logan Airport's contribution is critical to the Greater Boston economy, the future of Boston seaport for handling containerized sea cargo is in doubt, according to the MIT study. "Given the existing competition from Halifax, New York City and other ports, many of which are upgrading their facilities, Boston's port is unlikely to grow into a major contributor to the Boston's regional economy," noted Alvaro Pereira, who conducted the study's econometric simulations. "However, a more detailed study of the port's prospects might reveal potential as a regional facility," he said.
The MIT analysis grew out of three economics workshops held in December,
1997, by The Boston Harbor
Conference Advisory Committee. The committee consists of the project sponsors as well as Greater Boston
business leaders, designers, planners, academics and community advocates.
The Boston Harbor Conference itself is a policy forum designed to promote a major civic dialogue on the future of Boston Harbor and its environs. "The economics analysis is designed to launch a debate about Boston Harbor development opportunities that will continue during the conference itself," commented John Hamill, President of Fleet Bank, MA, the principal underwriter of the conference. "Ultimately, the conference is intended to help identify those development options that will seize the imagination, win consensus and become reality, improving the quality of life within Boston and the Greater Boston region," he said.