Gov. Patrick Supports Innovation and Economic Development Bill Eliminating Non-Competes and Retaining Foreign Students

Yesterday morning, Governor Deval Patrick announced his support for proposed economic development legislation that would accomplish two major legislative goals for the entrepreneurial community: the elimination of non-compete agreements, and the retention of foreign university students after graduation. The reform of non-compete law in Massachusetts has attracted much discussion over the past few years. A number of bills have been brought up in the legislature aimed at reforming non-compete laws — the one proposal that seemed to get the most traction was a bill introduced in the last legislative session that would have made all non-competes with a duration over 6 months presumptively unreasonable (the current common law rule of thumb is one year). There have been supporters in the state legislature of eliminating non-competes entirely, but their numbers have likely been limited due to strong opposition from major corporations in the Commonwealth. It remains to be seen whether the Governor’s support will be enough to overcome that opposition. The second piece of the legislation is aimed at retaining foreign university students when they graduate. Currently, many foreign graduates leave the Commonwealth and the country due to the inability to obtain the necessary visas to stay. The Governor’s proposal would take qualified foreign students who are starting or growing a business and place them as entrepreneurs-in-residence at colleges and universities across the state. The bill also contains a number of smaller proposals, primarily aimed at improving entrepreneur and innovation resources in the Commonwealth, improving infrastructure, and providing financial assistance to growing companies. Further reading:

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