Real estate expert sees challenges for Massachusetts economy
Suffolk Construction owner John Fish sees an economy in flux, but he's bullish that Massachusetts can maintain its perch as a top economic state if it tackles its housing and transit problems.
State of play: Fish says one of the biggest liabilities for the state will be the MBTA, unless it can be kept in good repair.
- "It is going to stunt our growth across the board," Fish said.
- Commuter rail service west of Worcester would be a boon for the whole state, and he said western Mass. would "grow like a weed," similarly to the expansion of the South Boston Seaport.
Why it matters: Fish chairs the Real Estate Roundtable, a major real estate and housing lobby in D.C. He has his finger on the pulse of how federal policy is shaping Boston's economy.
Threat level: Another factor hurting Massachusetts is the cost of housing. Fish, a homebuilder, says the state's efforts to increase workforce housing are at odds with local governments that don't want developments.
- Fish called for tax incentives for people who want to build housing.
- Resident opposition to new development and a drawn-out local permitting process at the town level are contributing to the high cost of construction, he said.
Big picture: Fish thinks the Federal Reserve's increases to interest rates are helping the ailing national economy, and might be enough to stave off a recession.
- But he also said the hikes will make it more expensive to construct new buildings.
- "If the cost of capital continues to go up, that all of a sudden creates a challenge for how projects pencil out and is the risk worth the rewards at the end of the day," Fish said.
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