The Hartford Courant is reporting that the insurance company AETNA is exploring a move to Boston from Hartford. In general this seems like a silly proposition, but is a perfect opportunity for our state leaders to help the Western Massachusetts economy, especially since AETNA seems to be speaking to Charlie Baker’s office about this.
I don’t know why AETNA is looking to move from Connecticut, but let’s assume that they are simply unhappy with the state and its policies, and they like Massachusetts. Instead of luring them to Boston, how about giving them some incentive to move to the greater Springfield area? It’s just up the road from Hartford, so the benefit to AETNA would be pretty strong – they wouldn’t have to relocate their workforce.
Let’s face it, the Boston area is doing pretty well. State unemployment is allegedly under 3%, but the unemployment in Western MA is still higher, and the types of jobs we have out here pay a lot less than Boston. Boston’s metro median household income in 2015 was $78,800. Springfield’s was $53,393 for the metro area. Boston city was $54,485, and Springfield was $34,751. We clearly need some help here.
We have plenty of cheap land, and a lot of unused capacity. Although we can’t offer the world-class-city amenities that Boston can, we can offer less congested roads, lower property taxes, and way of life that is generally more low key. Plus, we have a workforce that already has insurance skills – we have Mass Mutual Life Insurance company headquartered within our borders.
Hartford is one of the places that people in Western MA work, so AETNA moving to Boston would actually actively hurt our economy out here.
So how about it, Governor Baker and the legislature? How about trying to get AETNA to move here instead of cramming more opportunity into Boston?