Remember the "Massachusetts miracle"? The state continues to be a New Economy winner -- or rather, the Greater Boston area does. Much of the rest of the state, especially its once-thriving, long-forlorn mill towns, has a stagnant economy.

MassINC and the Metropolitan Policy Program at Brookings have released a report looking at Massachusetts, particularly its mill towns. There's some promise there, these groups conclude.

Towns such as Lawrence and Lowell are close enough to Boston to provide housing -- possibly a welcome alternative to the sprawl eating up much of eastern Massachusetts and the exorbitant home prices closer in. The older towns still have some downtowns and other infrastructure that could make them attractive.

They'll be particularly attractive, say the think tanks, if their populations receive better education and training in order to generate more jobs locally. Well, therein lies the rub, as in so many other places.