• CHAMBER YOUniversity

    Chamber YOUniversity provides a web forum to connect our members to the resources, institutional knowledge, industry expertise and business acumen of fellow Chamber members.  By acting as a repository for our members’ educational material, we hope to better inform our membership and the community at large, on a variety of business related topics.  Examples of informational material include health care, sales and marketing, financial/legal information, real estate trends and human resources. We encourage you to share your proficiency in an effort to build a valuable set of tools for our members to utilize.

    If you are a member of the MetroWest Chamber of Commerce and would like to contribute your knowledge and expertise to Chamber "YOU", please email your request for consideration to info@metrowest.org.

  • Financial Wellness

    MetroWest Community Federal Credit Union Offers FREE Education and Resources for your personal financial success. They offer direct access to leading experts in several financial fields including:

    • Banking and Credit Counseling
    • Personal & Family Financial Planning
    • Home Buyinm Education & Advice
    • Home, Auto & Life Insurance
    • Car Buying.

     

  • Healthcare, Health & Well-Being

    Health Care Reform - What does it mean for Small Massachusetts Employer, Blog submitted by Kimberly Murphy,  Summit Outsource Services, LLC , 978-793-0152
    There is a lot of information floating around about health care reform.  If you are like most business owners, the plethora of information is confusing and may leave you feeling like you don't know what to do or where to turn.  I'll attempt to add some clarity by providing seven facts relevant for Massachusetts small employers.  

    Tougher New Rule for Medical Expense Deductions Starts this Year,
    submitted by KLR, Certified Public Accountants, wwwKahnLitwin.com, 888-KLR-8557

     

    With the ever-increasing cost of health insurance and medical care, you should be vigilant in looking for chances to claim any possible healthcare-related tax breaks. Unfortunately, changes taking effect this year make that harder than ever. Here's the story, along with some potential solutions...

    The Next Phase of Massachusetts Health Care Reform

    Massachusetts is poised to address one of the greatest challenges of our generation: reducing the growth in  health care costs while improving health care quality and patient care. From 2009 to 2020, healh care costs are expected to double, oupacing both inflation and growth in the overall economy...

  • Economic Development

    Closing the Massachusetts Skills Gap report and presentation can be downloaded from the Commonwealth Corporation website:

  • Massachusetts Office of Business Development: Opportunities for YOUR Business

    Massachusetts Office of Business Development, MOBD

    Is your business a  business that wants to sell to the state?

    Register with OSD (Operational Services Division) at http://www.mass.gov/anf/budget-taxes-and-procurement/procurement-info-and-res/sell-to-the-state/statewide-contract-info/.

    Are you a woman or minority owned business? Register with the Supplier Diversity Office (http://www.mass.gov/anf/budget-taxes-and-procurement/procurement-info-and-res/procurement-prog-and-serv/sdo/) Often times there is a requirement on state contracts that part (or a sub contract) go to businesses on the SDO list.

    Massachusetts has taken steps to enhance the Hiring Incentive Training Grant (HITG) program (http://www.mass.gov/lwd/employment-services/business-training-support/wtfp/).

    Click Here for a document that highlights the state's Workforce Training Fund Program. (The state’s Workforce Training Fund Program is funded by all companies in Massachusetts when they pay their workers compensation fees. The HITG program allows companies (through an online application) to receive $5,000/new hire for up to $75,000 per year for training. It is especially useful if your company is interested in hiring veterans.)

     

  • Education

    AccreditedOnlineColleges.org 
    With the rise of the internet, online education has become a more integral part of our higher education system. Top colleges and universities are now offering online options as part of their curriculum. Unfortunately, in the past when students try to research these opportunities, information is fragmented and not easily accessible. With this in mind, AccreditedOnlineColleges.org  publishes a database of every online program offered by an accredited college starting with the United States. Their database is a thorough list of institutions and degree programs, with in-depth information including the specific accreditations of each institution.

    Here are some pages on their site that might be of greatest interest to you...


    The Simple Dollar is a syndicated website dedicated to personal finance topics. Their Affordable Onlined Colleges Guide identifies the 10 best universityies for online bachelor's and master's degrees in the country on a strict value-for-money basis. It only includes reputable colleges that rank highly in nationwide surveys of academic quality and student satisfaction. Among our top 10 schools, students can find a broad selection of degree subjects including fields such as business, education, nursing, and engineering, among many others. All of the schools are fully accredited and award the very same degree to both online and on-campus students.
     
      
    Affordable Colleges Online.org: Distance learning is here to stay. Initially on the fringes of formal education, online courses and degree programs have quickly become mainstream. Colleges and universities of all types have incorporated online learning into their curricula. Affordable Colleges Online helps students find affordable college options and provides information about financial aid and college rankings.  Users can find schools based on state, subject, degree level and religious affiliation along with affordability rankings to help students find value in post-secondary education.

         - http://www.affordablecollegesonline.org/online-colleges/
         - http://www.affordablecollegesonline.org/online-colleges/mba-programs/

    -----http://www.affordablecollegesonline.org/best-colleges-online/

    Recently their guidebook to accredited online degree programs was updated to better help new and returning students understand the online academic landscape and how best to succeed in an online degree program. The guidebook highlights the most affordable online programs.This resource can be found at:

           - http://www.affordablecollegesonline.org/cheap-online-colleges/

    Key updates to this guide include:
     - A comprehensive look at the growth of online degree programs at not-for-profit universities
     - Tips for pursuing an online degree while working
     - A list of top online degrees for ROI
     - Advice for international students interested in earning an online degree from a US college

    For a college preparatory study skills guide, visit the following link:

             - http://www.affordablecollegesonline.org/college-resource-center/study-skills/

    As the cost of higher education rises, colleges are finding unique ways to help students to save money. Recently many colleges, especially those who are involved in MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) and online learning, have begun to offer free or discounted technology products to students to subsidize the overall cost of post-secondary education. Affordable Colleges Foundation, put together a resource for students to identify these opportunities and to provide further reading for what to look for in a laptop for their college education, including a laptop comparison matrix to help with the decision making process.

    Anyone can access this no-cost college technology and affordability resource here:

           - http://www.affordablecollegesonline.org/online-colleges/online-colleges-that-offer-laptops/


    BestColleges.com has also created a technology buying guide that includes advice and a curated list of student discounts for computers, software, smart phones, and retail deals for students.

    You can see the full technology buying guide here: http://www.bestcolleges.com/features/colleges-offering-free-laptops/#tech-guide

    Nursing Education...Nursing is an amazing profession to become a part of, and just about anyone can find something to love about it.  Whether you want to learn more about the human body or you just want to help other people, you could do well working as a nurse. Check out the RN to BSN Online Programswebsite for the information on topics such as theTop 50 Affordable RN to BSN Program, Men in Nursing, Nursing Career Trendsand more!

    Additional Nursing Education Links

    Online Nursing Education 
    Nursing Salaries

     

    Guide to Online Schools

    Guide to Online Schools provides free, thoroughly-researched information covering over 25,122 online degree programs from 587 accredited schools. This comprehensive resource includes detailed degree and tuition information along with data-driven college rankings. Another useful feature is the accreditation checker, which prospective students can use to find out if a college they are interested in is accredited by the U.S. Department of Education.

     

     

  • Building Your Business

    In our current business environment having a website is a necessity for entrepreneurs, small businesses, home-based businesses, and anybody selling products or services. Regardless of what marketing methods that are employed, enabling potential customers to either find you through a Google search or learn more about you is key to creating and developing new customers.
    Below is a guide that will help entrepreneurs and small business to improve their digital footprint. You can see the entire guide along with some of its features here:

     

    Taking Care of Business - With Small Business One Size Does Not Fit All, submitted by Cheryl Tully Stoll, Link Marketing Services, www.linkmarketingservices.net, 508-641-4884

    Economists say it will be small businesses that will create the jobs we need to rebuild and sustain the U.S. Economy going forward.  The concept has great merit; but the definition of small business is so broad that the term is nearly meaningless.

  • Non-Profits

    Should you, Could you, be a 501(c)(3)? by Carla Cataldo, MPP, Proposals, Etc.

    Many people want to start a 501(c)(3) nonprofit to obtain grants, but the reality is that grant awards usually make up less than 15% of the total budget. So how do you decide when to start a new nonprofit, vs. working with an existing one....
     

    Implications of the New Normal for Fundraising  By Carla C. Cataldo, MPP, Proposals, Etc.  
    A recently completed national poll on American attitudes following the great recession produced some startling results that have important ramifications for those involved in nonprofit fundraising.
    The poll of more than 1000 Americans, commissioned by the Boston Public Relations firm of SolomonMcCown, contains both good and bad news for nonprofit fundraising.
    Entitled “The New Normal,” the presenting poll firm, Anderson Robbins Research, summarized the findings by stating “We care more about the rainbow than the pot of gold.” Making a lot of money ranked dead last in the most important elements of the American Dream.

    Do You Speak Grant-ese? by Gail Shapiro and Carla Cataldo, Proposal Etc.

    The success of a grant proposal depends on your ability to describe your project realistically, thoroughly, and succinctly – in the grantmakers’ parlance. If you aren’t communicating in Grant-ese, your application could be misunderstood and ultimately go unfunded.

    massnonprofit.org News and information about the Non-Profit Sector in Massachusetts.
    Stay on top of the latest nonprofit news in Massachusetts: Suscribe FREE to the Weekly Report

     

  • Business Laws and Regulations

    Question 4: Earned Sick Time for Massachusetts Emplyees 5-18-15

    Question 4, which passed in the most recent state held elections, stipulates that all workers in the state of Massachusetts will be able to earn 1 hour of sick time per 30 hours worked, earning up to 40 hours per year.

    • For businesses carrying 11 or more employees this is paid time off.
    • For businesses 10 and under this is unpaid sick time.
    • This law will take effect July 1st, 2015
    Employees could carry over up to 40 hours of unused sick time to the next calendar year, but could not use more than 40 hours in a calendar year.
    • Employers would not have to pay employees for unused sick time at the end of their employment.
    • If an employee missed work for a reason eligible for earned sick time, but agreed with the employer to work the same number of hours or shifts in the same or next pay period, the employee would not have to use earned sick time for the missed time, and the employer would not have to pay for that missed time.
    • Employers would be prohibited from requiring such an employee to work additional hours to make up for missed time, or to find a replacement employee.
    • Employers could require certification of the need for sick time if an employee used sick time for more than 24 consecutively scheduled work hours. Employers could not delay the taking of or payment for earned sick time because they have not received the certification.
    • Employees would have to make a good faith effort to notify the employer in advance if the need for earned sick time is foreseeable.
    • Employers would be prohibited from interfering with or retaliating based on an employee’s exercise of earned sick time rights, and from retaliating based on an employee’s support of another employee’s exercise of such rights.

    Information supplied by ADP

  • Sales and Marketing

    Expertise Guide to Local Marketing - Ranking in Google: How to Fix Your Local Listings
    Let’s face it, most people go to Google as their first stop for shopping for just about anything, and this especially applies to consumers looking to hire local service professionals.  As a result, now small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) often succeed or fail based on their ability to get found by customers online.  With 98% of people using the Internet to search, over two-thirds of searches starting on Google through desktop and smartphones, and nearly all of those searchers choosing businesses from the first page of results, it is absolutely critical for an SMB to show up high in the Google listings.  Even if you rank well, your competition is ranked right next to you, so it’s about getting found with the right information that is compelling enough to win you a customer.

    "CONTENT IS KING", Jeanne Sheehy, Chief Marketing Officer, Bostrom
    These days organizations are rushing to keep up with the ever-changing world of digidtal and social media to ensure they are LinkedIn, Liked, Tweeted and a YouTube sensation - just for starters.... Click on title to read complete article.

    Building A Better Business Blog: Why You Need A Business Blog, Lahle Wolf, Guide to Women in Business
    If you own a business, you have news worth sharing -- even if you do not think you do. Whether your news is about sales, specials, coupons, new products or services, opinions, consumer tips, or an announcement about expanded business hours, a blog is a great way to keep people informed. Many companies also include posts about new hires or major promotions on their blogs or share pictures and highlights of corporate events and community involvement. Click on title for complete article  Also check out: Tips for Building a Better Business Blog


    7 Ways to Improve Email Open Rates, Marketechs
    Email marketing still remains one of the best routes for industrial B2B companies to reach prospective customers; and it happens to be one of the most cost effective, as well. There are various aspects of an email campaign that determine results, but I will focus on how to improve your email open rates.(After all, if it’s not opened, it won’t get read, shared, or acted upon.)