Massachusetts Treasurer Joseph D. Malone has announced a plan to increase and diversify investment in new products by inventors in the state.

In an exclusive interview with The Bond Buyer, Malone outlined his Inventor/Investor Program, which he hopes will bring down the 8.6% unemployment rate recorded in September.

Malone's plan calls for bringing state officials, investors, and scholars together to assess new products created by inventors.

He said the inclusion of educators from such institutions as Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of Massachusetts, and Boston College is an integral part of his plan.

Malone said the program would be organized by his office but funded solely by investors. He added that no bonding or other state financing would be involved.

He said he expects Gov. William F. Weld and the state legislature to support his initiative.

Malone noted his proposed program is part of a larger scheme of economic improvements being suggested and implemented by Weld and Malone.

"When our administration, led by Gov. Weld, took over last January, we targeted several important steps that had to be taken," Malone said. "Quite simply, we had to improve the level of trust in our state government, achieve a degree of fiscal stability, and then proceed towards economic growth. "

Malone said the first two steps have "gotten off to a flying start." On Sept. 9, both Standard & Poor's Corp. and Moody's Investors Service upgraded Massachusetts GOs to A from BBB and Baa, respectively.

In upgrading the debt, the rating agencies cited cutbacks in State spending, the improved financial status, and reduced reliance on the use of one-shots to balance the state's budget.

But Malone said trust in the executive, office was a "major concern" for the rating agency, something not easily renewed.

At the Bond Buyer Municipal Finance Conference held last Thursday and Friday in New York City, Malone said now that the rating agencies have voiced their support, "it's time to regain the trust of investors."

"One of the strongest and least-used resources in the state is our institutions of higher learning," Malone said. "By Jan. 1, we will have convened an executive panel to set up a one-day conference in July that would display to investors all sorts of new products."

Malone said that members of the commission have not been named, but added that the appointments would be evenly divided between investors, academicians, and representatives of state government.

"In the Boston area, there are more permanent residents who have won a Nobel Prize than in any other area of the world," he said. "These people are assets the state has been ignoring for years."

Malone said the commission will target new products in telecommunication, biotechnology, high technology, and new computer products. But he said the commission will not limit the program to those fields.

"Somewhere out there is another Digital Computer [Corp.] just waiting for funding to get off the ground," he said.

This is the second program Malone has designed.

In February, Malone kicked off the Middle Class American Dream program designed to help middle-income families afford their own homes.

For families with combined family income between $23,000 and $68,000, a mortgage for a new home is made available with only a 5% down payment. And only 33% of the family's annual income is required to be dedicated to payment toward the mortgage.

Malone said he expected to have "a couple of hundred" applicants to the program. So far, 1,100 families have moved into new homes through the program.

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