Advocating for Our Economy


March 2014: New "Intern Hub" website expands services to MetroWest Region

New platform promotes local college graduate retention and collaboration between colleges and employers

Boston, MA (March 19, 2014) — The Internship Collaborative, a partnership led by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston and the Greater Boston Chamber, today announced an expanded partnership with the MetroWest Chamber of Commerce, officially bringing InternHub.com to students, employers, and career counselors in that region.

Though the site — which launched in 2013 — is available to students and employers across the Commonwealth, this partnership will help further expand and promote InternHub.com throughout the MetroWest region.

Click Here for complete article.


August 2013: RecyclingWorks

RecyclingWorks logo

RecyclingWorks is a free resource funded by MassDEP and designed to help businesses and institutions start or improve food waste diversion and recycling programs.  Any questions on food waste diversion or recycling can be directed to the RecyclingWorks Hotline at (888)254-5525 or email info@recyclingworksma.com.  

Some of the free assistance RecyclingWorks currently provides includes:

·         Direct technical assistance 

·         A searchable database of local waste haulers and processors in your area by waste type 

·         Case studies on businesses that have implemented food waste diversion and recycling programs

·         Current information on the Massachusetts Waste Bans 

 More Info...

May 7: Federal Bureaucrats Striking Out on ACA Small Business Rules

As a Massachusetts small business advocate who happens to also be a Democrat, I have no problem with the concept of requiring individuals to obtain insurance in order to fairly apportion costs across all users of health care.  Where I strenuously object is when small businesses and their employees are put at a disadvantage under the law and in the marketplace versus their big business competitors.  An unfair playing field in health insurance means...

Click Here for complete Letter from Retails Association of Massachusetts (RAM) President, Jon Hurst, to RAM members. Printed from the March/April 2013 issue of The Retail Review.


May 2013: Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation Corporate Tax Proposals Fiscal Year 2014

  • Comparison of Corporate Tax Proposals: Governor and House/Senate Bills
  • Apply the Sales Tax to Computer and Software Services, FY 14 Revenue: $161 million
  • Eliminate Special Classification for Utility Corporations, FY Revenue: $48 million
  • Change the Sourcing Rule for Services in Calculating Sales Factor in Apportionment, FY 14 Revenue: $35 million
  • Charge Utilities for Use of MassDOT-Owned Land, FY 14 Revenue: $0

Click Here for complete Presentation (provided by Michael Widmer, President, Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation

Click Here for MACCE 5-3-2013 powerpoint presentation


April 24, 2013 Closing the Massachusetts Skills Gap

The report and presentation can be downloaded from the Commonwealth Corporation website:


Take a look at 2 additional reports that Commonwealth Corporation and Drexel
University Center for Labor Markets and Policy released earlier this month. The
reports are the products of a study that we undertook to improve our
understanding of the underlying causes of the dramatic decline in teen
employment rates from 54.3% in 1999 to 26.8% in 2012. 

Signaling Success:   Boosting Teen Employment Prospects - This report presents findings
from nearly 200 businesses about their perceptions of teens' hard skills,
work behaviors, employment laws, factors affecting their hiring decisions,
and other hiring preferences. 

Building Blocks of Labor Market Success: Evidence from O*NET Job Analysis Surveys - This report
analyzes the O*NET database at the United States Department of Labor to
identify the key features of occupations in which teens work and how those
features compare to higher level jobs.


January 7, 2013: Bonnie Biocchi, MetroWest Chamber President & CEO offers Statement of Support at Gov. Patrick's Regulatory Reform Press Conference Press Conference

Nation-leading regulatory reform process has created 286 opportunities for efficiencies, innovations in over 60 state agencies

Expanding a regulatory reform effort that has already made doing business easier for thousands of businesses, Governor Patrick announced legislation to streamline and improve the licensing process and business climate for thousands of professional licensees throughout Massachusetts.

The legislation is part of the Patrick-Murray Administration’s comprehensive regulatory reform effort to conduct a fresh analysis of existing regulations and determine what still makes sense in the 21st century.  To date, the unprecedented effort has removed unnecessary barriers to starting a small business, enhanced efficiencies of state government operations and aligned state practices with widely accepted national models or best practices. The legislation builds on this progress and is part of a series of initiatives the Governor will announce this week to make government work better.

Bonnie Biocchi offered the following Statement of Support...

“The MetroWest Chamber of Commerce applauds Governor Patrick’s longstanding effort to reduce the regulatory burden for businesses. We are pleased that the results of the Commonwealth’s first comprehensive regulatory review identified and corrected outmoded, inefficient regulations, yielding both time and cost savings to businesses. While this is important for all businesses, it is critically important for our small business owners. In filing this legislation to modernize the DPL, we are confident that the Administration will continue to streamline the regulatory process, thereby fostering business development and job creation.”

Click Here for complete Press release


September 21, 2012: 2012 Life Sciences Tax Incentive Program

The Center announced on July 23, 2012 that applications are now being accepted for the 2012 Life Sciences Tax Incentive Program.

In order to expand life sciences-related employment opportunities, promote health-related innovations and stimulate research and development, manufacturing and commercialization in the life sciences, the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center is pleased to announce that it is offering tax incentives in 2012 to companies engaged in life sciences research and development, commercialization and manufacturing in Massachusetts. The Life Sciences Initiative authorizes the Center to award up to $25 million in tax incentives each year.

The primary goal of the Program is to incentivize life sciences companies to create new long-term jobs in Massachusetts. To qualify companies must receive certification from the Center and must demonstrate both the scientific and academic merit of their expansion plans.

Interested applicants will be required to submit an on-line application. Applications will be accepted on an ongoing basis via the MLSC web site up until the deadline of October 25, 2012 at noon.

Read the press release here >>

For more information on this program, and to apply, please click here.


August 6, 2012: 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. The rapid rate of growth squeezes out other spending, for individuals, for businesses, for communitis and in the state budget. That is why this effort is essential for our long-term economic competitiveness and for the health of our residents. This comprehensive bil will build on past reforms through innovative, market-based solutions by:   Click Here to download full Health Care plan.


August 5, 2012 MetroWest Chamber Leaders Discuss Priorities

Bonnie Biocchi, President & Ceo, William Pezzoni, Chair of the Board and several Chamber member business owners spoke with Brian Benson at the MetroWest Daily News about the MetroWest region, the Chamber's priorities and the role and direction taken by the Chamber over the past 21/2 years. Click here to read the complete article.


July 23, 2012: MetroWest Chamber 2012 Public Policy Agenda

As one of the champions of the Commonwealth’s Strategic Economic Development Plan, Choosing to Compete, The MetroWest Chamber of Commerce has closely aligned itself with the goals, categories for action and associated tasks of the plan.  Garnering state funding as a partner in a Regional Economic Development Organization (REDO) has allowed us to pursue that mission.  In addition to assisting with the formation of the key objectives and hosting several forums to provide an overview of the plan, the Chamber adopted the Plan’s “five categories for action” as our 2012 public policy agenda.  To support the five categories for action, we have engagedin our own action steps:
     
To build talent, we have identified areas and developed resources to address the middle skills gap by building the talent pool required for the businesses in our region.  We were an early supporter of the Governor’s reforms to the Community College System and have promoted those reforms as workforce development opportunities.  We are working with MassBay Community College to develop appropriate courses to provide our larger employers with middle skills workers.  Our Community Outreach committee is focused on connecting 5 subsets of workers - Veterans, Displaced/Underemployed Workers, Youth, Disabled and New Citizens to our employers.
       
To build the innovation economy we have been developing a plan to create incubator space for biomedical manufacturing in Framingham, working with commercial brokers, MassBay Community College, MetroWest Medical Center and the Town.  We also have been working with the town of Westborough to develop local streamlined permitting processes to encourage startups and emerging growth companies to the area. Additionally, we helped develop a mobile app to encourage travelers to purchase goods and services at discounted rates via GPS technology.
      
To empower regions, we created a new program - Municipal Magnet – which has begun the process of getting municipal leaders to think like “municipal CEO’s” encouraging them to create a business friendly atmosphere.  Choosing to Compete, call’s for 10% of the Commonwealths communities to have utilized the EDSAT tool (or a similar self-assessment). We have coordinated the use of the EDSAT for three communities and are scheduled for a fourth, which is 40% of our footprint.   We are also assisting another community by engaging the Northeastern School of Public Policy and Urban Planning to administer the Economic Development Self -Assessment study.  This has enabled local officials to identify what is working and what is not within their communities and plan for corrective action for problem areas.  To further empower regions, we have partnered with MassDevelopment to create a Municipal Academy aimed at educating regional and local officials, municipal leaders and theirstaffs on best practices and the results that can ensue.  That forum isplanned for fall 2012. 
       
To market the strengths of doing business,
we will take the data collected through the EDSAT to create a regional marketing plan.  Utilizing the data from the 495 Compact as well as from the EDSAT, we have made progress identifying areas for growth and aggressively pursuing opportunities to tenant space in the region.  We have also assisted with an Op-Ed piece regarding Regulatory Reform and have further developed our relationship with MOBD to make our regional economic development organization a true partner in all Commonwealth business development activities. 

To improve the Commonwealth’s cost competitiveness we have worked with our community based hospital, MetroWest Medical Center, to connect the opportunity to learn about and participate in tiered networks with our larger employers.   We have fought for and won the opportunity to offer discounted health care insurance to the small business sector through a group purchasing collaborative. We have looked for new sources of Venture Capital for the growing bio-tech field in our region and have identified an opportunity forfunding a small bio-tech start-up.


June 29, 2012: Coalition for Community Colleges budget/reforms goes to Governor

The Coalition FOR Community Colleges has been working for six months to advance significant reform of the Commonwealth’s community college system as proposed by Gov. Patrick.  On Friday, June 29th, the MA House and Senate voted to adopt the conference budget with all the reforms requested intact.  It will now go to the Governor, who has 10 days to review the budget, veto individual line items or outside sections, and sign it.  Here are some highlights of the reforms:

  • The Commissioner of Higher Education is now empowered to establish a funding formula for the colleges, using performance metrics, such as those included in the Vision Project.  
  • The Performance Management budget set aside is funded at $7.5 million, with $5 million to be used to develop a system of core course offerings and numbering.
  • The Governor has the ability to appoint the chairs of the college board of trustees.
  • The Board of Higher Education shall issue guidelines and procedures for the selection, compensation, evaluation, and removal of college presidents.
  • An Office of Coordination shall be established by the Commissioner as a central clearing house for all workforce training opportunities across higher education.

Chamber President and Coalition Member, Bonnie Biocchi stated, "This is an outstanding result.  This Coalition changed the public debate and achieved a significant structural  reform of community colleges that has been talked about for years.  These reforms also dovetail with the workforce development initiatives developed through the Commonwealth’s “Choosing to Compete” Economic Development Strategic Plan" (see below.) The MetroWest Chamber was one of a handful of chambers that actively supported this opportunity to change the system and better support our workforce development goals throughout the region.  By partnering with John O’Donnell and MassBay Community College, we can be sure this region will continue to grow and thrive."


June 26: MetroWest Chamber supports the TJX Companies at the Economic Assistance Coordinating Council

On June 26th, Chamber President Bonnie Biocchi joined Framingham town officials and the MetroWest legislative delegation to support TJX at the Economic Assistance Coordinating Council meeting in Boston. The project was approved and will bring 225 new jobs, retain 1600  and at provide $149M in capital investment at the TJX headquarters in Framingham. 

TJX Group(L-R) MaryEllen Kelley, Framingham CFO, Bonnie Biocchi, Bob Halpin, Framingham Town Manager, Dennis Giombetti, Framingham
Selectman, Sen. Karen Spilka, Rep. Tom Sannicandro, Rep. Chris Walsh, Rep. Tom Conroy.  A special thanks to Courtney Elgart, Staff Director to Rep. Sannicandro,  for providing the photo.


June 25, 2012: New England Defense Industry: Current Profile and Economic Significance


The Defense Technology Initiative released the "New England Defense Industry: Current Profile and Economic Significance" Summary, a report conducted by the UMass Donahue Institute on the economic impact of Department of Defense and Department of Homeland Security contracts to New England. The report includes a range of meaningful data, including the 83% jump in DoD and DHS contracts for the region from 2003-2011 and the fact that the New England defense sector is responsible for 319,000 jobs. Furthermore it shows how the region’s defense cluster ignores state boundaries – underscoring the need to create regional economic and base preservation strategies.

Also released:  "An Economic Contribution Analysis and Overview of Massachusetts Military Installations Summary of Preliminary Findings"  These are preliminary findings from an analysis of the six military installations in the Commonwealth which include Barnes Air National Guard Base, Fort Devens, Hanscom Air Force Base, Massachusetts Military Reservation, Westover Air Reserve Base and U.S. Army Natick Soldier Systems Center.

LtGovMurrayDefense

Lt. Governor Tim Murray hosted a roundtable discussion highlighting the results of the New England Defense Industry Summary conducted by the UMass Donahue Institute. In an effort to determine the economic impact that the Commonwealth’s military installations have in relation to the overall Massachusetts economy,  the Lt. Gov. has been convening a series of meetings across the state to learn more about each establishment.  As you know, we are keeping a close watch on this issue as Natick Soldiers Systems Center is a major employer in the region, at 1600+ jobs and contributed over $4.4 billion in total economic and employment contributions in 2011.


June-July 2012: Massachusetts Creative Economy

What is the Massachusetts Creative Economy? The enterprises and people involved in the production and distribution of goods and services in which the aesthetic, intellectual, and emotional engagement of the consumer gives the product value in the marketplace. Marketing, Architecture, Visual Arts & Crafts, Design, Film & Media, Video Games & Software, Music and Performing Arts, Publishing, and Culture & Preservation are the categories that make up the creative Economy.

The CreativeNEXT tour, a statewide opportunity for the Massachusetts Creative Economy Council to hear from creative economy businesses, organizations and individuals,  came to Framingham on Tuesday, July 31st.
 
The Patrick-Murray Administration’s Creative Economy Industry Director Helena Fruscio and Creative Economy Council  met with businesses, organizations, and individuals working in design, film, media, publishing, visual and performing art, music, architecture, and video games to join in a discussion about the creative economy and its future in Massachusetts. 


June 2012: MetroWest Chamber Partners in Sponsoring Clean Energy Forum

On Friday, June 8th, The MetroWest Chamber of Commerce in partnership with Sen. Jamie Eldridge (D-Acton) sponsored a Clean Technology Forum to discuss the new recycled asphalt shingle and rubberized asphalt initiative aimed at expanding the use of recycled materials in highway paving projects.
clean energy forumA roundtable discussion, led by Senator Eldridge, included an overview of the cleaner/greener technologies available in the road construction market.   Recently, Senator Eldridge sponsored an Act to create the Office of Clean Technology which focuses on supporting and promoting sustainability. To highlight one of these cleaner technologies, industry professionals demonstrated the growth opportunities and significant benefits of employing these renewable elements as a cost-effective alternative to traditional paving applications.


March 2012 495/MetroWest Development Compact Plan

The 495/MetroWest Development Compact Plan  is a shared framework for state, regional, and local strategies for priority development and land preservation as well as transportation and other infrastructure investments in the 37 municipalities in the region. 

A key component of this plan is the identification of priority development and preservation areas and significant transportation and infrastructure investments for the region. Like the South Coast Plan, the 495/MetroWest plan was prepared in collaboration with regional and local participants and engaged both public and private sectors to form the framework for public decision-making in land use regulation and infrastructure investment within the region over the next twenty years.

495 Partnership Board members include Bonnie Biocchi, President & CEO of the MetroWest Chamber and  William Pezzoni, MetroWest Chamber Board Chair.


February 22, 2012: Town Partners with MetroWest Chamber, Northeastern University to Attract Businesses

Framingham’s Economic Development and Industrial Corporation took a meaningful step to make the town more attractive to businesses, when the four-member panel agreed to participate in the Municipal Magnet program sponsored by the MetroWest Chamber of Commerce.

“We are charged by the Board of Selectmen to take a look at Framingham and find ways to make the town more attractive to businesses,” said Economic Development and Industrial Corporation (EDIC) Chair Mike Gatlin Tuesday night.

MetroWest Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Bonnie Biocchi presented an overview of the program.

“What the program does is look at what the town is doing and what is in
place,” she said. “What businesses do the town support and what other
businesses need to be attracted?”

The central component of the Municipal Magnet program is the Economic Development Toolkit developed by Northeastern University. The Toolkit’s first initiative is the Economic Development Self-Assessment Tool.

The self-assessment tool is a method for the town to benchmark its readiness to attract industries and investment through a self-assessment survey. The survey reveals the town’s strengths and weaknesses.

Click here to read complete article.


December 2011: Economic Development Policy and Strategic Plan for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

The Patrick Administration, along with the private and public sector have created an Economic Development Policy and Strategic Plan for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.  that develops a common agenda for continued progress and involves participation by business, government and the academy both in its creation and in its successful implementation.

The plan includes five specific missions, and 55 goals that to  help  successfully advance each mission. The Five missions include:

  • Building Talent
  • Innovation Economy
  • Empowering Regions
  • Ease of Doing Business
  • Improving Cost Competitiveness

The plan was a project created by a 34-member advisory council of which Bonnie Biocchi, MetroWest Chamber President & Ceo, is a member and who continues to play a role in moving the plan forward.

Click on the link for more information on this plan and Choosing to Compete in the 21st Century