SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Massachusetts Governor Maura Healey was a keynote speaker at the Springfield Regional Chamber’s premier legislative and economic forecasting event of the year on Friday.

Outlook 2023, an event that brings business and legislative leaders together to share ideas and address issues of importance to western Massachusetts. Governor Maura Healey was the key note speaker, bringing her entire cabinet to show her support for western Massachusetts.

Governor Healey reviewed aspects of her proposed budget to the crowd of about 700 people, identifying key priorities for western Massachusetts including tourism, transportation, the development of East-West rail and becoming connected to rural communities and businesses.

Healey is looking to fill a brand new position for the state that will be key to the western region, a Director of Rural Affairs. “Who will be there working super-closely with 181 rural communities across Massachusetts. We know the state has a lot of way that we can help our rural economies,” said Healey.

Healey added that she also earmarked money for a director of the East-West rail. Business and legislative leaders say attracting employees has been one of the biggest issues they are currently facing.

“Work force development, right at the top of that list. How do we ensure our employers have the talent here in western Mass. to fill jobs that are desperately needed,” said State Rep. Aaron Saunders.

“We have to create this agile, where both our employees and our students are prepared for the future of work,” said Western New England University President Robert Johnson.

Business also thankful for the opportunity to come together and share ideas.

“Every business has different things they got to deal with but rooms like this allow those needs to be met,” said Mychal Connolly, President of Stand Out Truck.

These positions are all part of Governor Healey’s proposed budget released earlier this month and in line for final approval late spring, early summer.