$52,000 in Scholarships Awarded through the North Central Massachusetts Chamber Foundation

Each spring, a number of the region’s most outstanding high school seniors are recognized with scholarships from the Chamber Foundation of the North Central Massachusetts Chamber of Commerce.  A total of $52,000 in scholarships were awarded this year.  These awards were either endowed or funded by companies and individuals.  The Scholarship Committee selected scholarship recipients from among college-bound seniors in the Chamber’s service area.  The sole basis for selection was merit – in all aspects of students’ endeavors, from academics and sports to volunteer work and employment.

Since the establishment of its scholarship program, the North Central Massachusetts Chamber Foundation has awarded over a million dollars in scholarships to over 600 students.  Many of these awards are made possible through contributions from members of the North Central Massachusetts Chamber of Commerce.  Scholarships endowed through the Chamber Foundation are often named in honor of prominent members of the North Central Massachusetts business community whose philanthropy and commitment to the community have helped shape North Central Massachusetts.  The Chamber wishes to thank TD Bank and Unitil for their sponsorship of this year’s scholarship program, as well as the many Chamber members who contributed towards the scholarships.

Twenty-six scholarships of $2,000 were distributed to the following seniors from throughout North Central Massachusetts:

Luke Boccelli

North Middlesex Regional High School

Awarded: Chamber Foundation Scholarship

Sara Buszkiewicz

Oakmont Regional High School

Awarded: Barbara Silva Scholarship

Patrick Conlan

Leominster Center for Technical Education Innovation

Awarded: Salny Family Scholarship

Margaret Constantino

St. Bernard’s High School

Awarded: M. Ruth Lee Scholarship

Jackson Dallas Mark

Montachusett Regional Vocational Technical School

Awarded: Enterprise Bank & Trust

Victoria Fagundes

North Middlesex Regional High School

Awarded: David L. McKeehan Scholarship

Kelsey Harris

Wachusett Regional High School

Awarded: HealthAlliance Hospital Guild Scholarship

Eliza Howlett

Leominster High School

Awarded: Rollstone Bank & Trust Scholarship

Cailin Joyce

Montachusett Regional Vocational Technical School

Awarded: Chamber Foundation Scholarship

Cailey LeBlanc

Oakmont Regional High School

Awarded: Elizabeth & Anthony DiGeronimo Family Scholarship

Vivian Liu

The Bromfield School

Awarded: Workers Credit Union

Kaitlyn Ostrowski

The Bromfield School

Awarded: Chamber Foundation Scholarship

Lindsey Parise

Nashoba Valley Technical High School

Awarded: George R. Wallace, Jr. and Alice G. Wallace Scholarship

Kelly Provencial

Oakmont Regional High School

Awarded: Benjamin Asher Scholarship

Lindsay Romano

Oakmont Regional High School

Awarded: Roderick W. & Donna M. Lewin Scholarship

Jocelyn Rossignol

Clinton High School

Awarded: Patricia S. Alario Scholarship

Lauren Ruggiero

Lunenburg High School

Awarded: Adams Family Scholarship

Kaden Scopelliti

Fitchburg High School

Awarded: UMass Memorial HealthAlliance-Clinton Hospital Scholarship

Edward Siaw

Leominster High School

Awarded: Edward C. J. Healey Scholarship

Vincent Soubbotin

Leominster Center for Technical Education Innovation

Awarded: Chamber Foundation Scholarship

Verda Tetteh

Fitchburg High School

Awarded: UMass Memorial HealthAlliance-Clinton Hospital Scholarship

Hana Valikangas

North Middlesex Regional High School

Awarded: Elizabeth & Anthony DiGeronimo Family Scholarship

Henry Vandermillen

Groton-Dunstable Regional High School

Awarded: Ronald Ansin Scholarshipllllll

Cynthia Wangeera

North Middlesex Regional High School

Awarded: UMass Memorial HealthAlliance-Clinton Hospital Scholarship

Thailee Zarycki

Leominster High School

Awarded: UMass Memorial HealthAlliance-Clinton Hospital Scholarship

Ardon Zibel

Leominster High School

Awarded: M. Ruth Lee Scholarship

“Congratulations to the students who were awarded scholarships from the North Central Massachusetts Chamber Foundation,” said Roy M. Nascimento, President & CEO of the North Central Massachusetts Chamber of Commerce. “The Chamber is committed to providing these scholarships to local students to continue their education and develop into future leaders in North Central Massachusetts.  Thank you to the many local businesses who helped make these scholarships possible.”

The Chamber Foundation is a 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization focused on assisting in the betterment of the region through charitable activities.  Funds raised by the Chamber’s Foundation are utilized primarily for education/workforce development initiatives and charitable activities in North Central Massachusetts.

For more information on the North Central Massachusetts Chamber Foundation’s scholarship program or to view a list of the named scholarships, please visit northcentralmass.com or call 978.353.7600 ext. 222.

Baker-Polito Administration Announces Transition at Executive Office of Public Safety and Security

Governor Charlie Baker and Lt. Governor Karyn Polito announced the departure of Executive Office of Public Safety and Security Secretary Thomas Turco, III. Secretary Turco is retiring after more than 30 years of public service. The Administration also announced the appointment of current Undersecretary for Law Enforcement Terrence Reidy as Acting Secretary of Public Safety and Security.

“Since taking office, our Administration has been deeply committed to ensuring the safety and security of the residents, families and communities of the Commonwealth, and we are grateful for the leadership of Secretary Turco in pursuing that goal,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “Tom has played an invaluable role in many major efforts to deliver a safer Commonwealth for all, including working with law enforcement, legislators and community justice leaders to deliver landmark police reform legislation. We appreciate his expertise and commitment to public service, and look forward to continuing to work with Acting Secretary Reidy.”

“Over the past three years Secretary Turco led the team at the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security and its agencies with purpose and dedication, and we wish him well in his retirement,” said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito. “His commitment to supporting the public safety of our local communities was unsurpassed and his thoughtful leadership was invaluable to our Administration. I want to thank Secretary Turco for his years of service and welcome Acting Secretary Reidy to this new role.”

“Public safety depends on all of us working together to build a culture of preparedness, responsiveness, and care for those in our communities,” said Public Safety and Security Secretary Thomas Turco. “I would like to thank the residents of the Commonwealth for their support of our work, the Governor and Lieutenant Governor for their confidence in me and my colleagues across our agencies whose collective partnership has advanced our vision of excellence. Knowing how our team will rise to this occasion empowers me to make this decision to spend time with my family who have been a source of unwavering support to me in my life of public service.”

“Serving on Secretary Turco’s leadership team at EOPSS has prepared me for the task of succeeding such an effective leader,” said Undersecretary for Law Enforcement Terrence Reidy. “I am honored to be appointed Acting Secretary of Public Safety and Security and lead a talented group of world-class professionals. Together with our partners in the Administration, Legislature, and local communities, we will fulfill our mission to sustain and increase public safety.”

“On behalf of the Massachusetts Major City Chiefs, I would like to extend our collective congratulations to Secretary Turco on his retirement,” said President of the Major City Chiefs, Chelsea Police Chief Brian Kyes. “Tom has been a phenomenal leader who we have benefited from.  His wisdom, guidance, and ability to make the most difficult decisions has made the Commonwealth a safer place. His legacy will continue in our law enforcement community for years to come.”

“As Boston Police Commissioner, I experienced an extraordinary collaborative fusion under Tom Turco’s leadership,” said Retired Boston Police Commissioner Willie Gross. “Like Coach Belichick, he leveraged the strength of each local, state, and federal partner – challenging each to do their job and contribute to a shared mission. I thank his family for supporting Tom in his work to make the Commonwealth a safer place for all.”

Under Secretary Turco’s leadership, the Baker-Polito Administration has made several advancements on key public safety and security issues for people and communities across Massachusetts. Key accomplishments include:

  • Collaborated with the Legislature and key stakeholders to develop, codify into law, and implement the foundation of the comprehensive 2020 police reform bill.
  • Increased opportunities for implementing body cameras, including creating grant opportunities for municipalities and a dedicated program for more than 1,500 troopers within the State Police.
  • Supported the Commonwealth’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic by helping to coordinate a statewide effort to distribute personal protective equipment and other critical supplies to first responders and other frontline workers.
  • Led state-wide election security planning to ensure that residents could safely exercise their right to vote in the election as well as free speech.
  • Developed the first-of-its-kind “Faith-Based Organization Safety and Security Toolkit,” an e-learning course for all houses of worship, faith organizations, law enforcement organizations, and first responders in the Commonwealth, and a similar workbook for large public venues.
  • Supported funding for the Department of Fire Services to redevelop a former Department of Corrections site and create an academy in Bridgewater.
  • Recruited and swore in 450 new State Troopers and oversaw the recruitment of the most diverse State Police class in history.   

About Terrence Reidy:

Terrence Reidy has served as Undersecretary for Law Enforcement within the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security since 2019, where he has provided strategic leadership to the Massachusetts State Police, the Municipal Police Training Committee, and the Office of Grants and Research. In addition, Reidy served as a member of the Governor’s Task Force on Hate Crimes. Drawing on his prosecutorial experience collaborating with community leaders, he oversaw the creation of a hate crime resource guide for Massachusetts schools and partnered with police to ensure that every department in the Commonwealth has a trained, dedicated civil rights officer.

Prior to his work at EOPSS, Reidy was an Assistant Attorney General in the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office and Assistant District Attorney in Worcester and Suffolk Counties. His experience included supervising the Attorney General’s Enterprise, Major Crimes, and Cyber Crime Unit and the Worcester District Attorney’s Gang Unit. In Suffolk County, Reidy was promoted from District Court Prosecutor to Superior Court where he served in the Gang and Safe Neighborhood Initiative Units.  In these roles, he developed collaborative relationships with federal, state, and local law enforcement as well as residents and community groups.

Beyond his work in government, Reidy dedicates time to volunteering as a coach for several youth sports organizations. He completed his undergraduate studies at Colby College and earned his juris doctor from New England School of Law. 

Biden Picks DA Rollins For Top Federal Prosecutor

Article Source: State House News Service

Author: Chris Lisinski


President Joe Biden on Monday nominated Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins to serve as the state’s top federal prosecutor, a historic move that could reshape the U.S. Attorney’s office and kick off a flurry of activity among elected officials and others who wish to succeed her.

If confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Rollins could be poised to bring the same reform-minded approach to the U.S. attorney’s office that has drawn praise from progressives and criticism from police unions.

She would become the first Black woman to serve as U.S. attorney for the District of Massachusetts and only the second woman to hold that title, following President Barack Obama appointee Carmen Ortiz.

Rollins, who has been publicly linked to the position for months, did not remark on the nomination Monday morning and her office could not be reached for immediate comment.

Biden announced Rollins as one of eight nominees to serve as U.S. attorneys.

“These individuals — many of whom are historic firsts — were chosen for their devotion to enforcing the law, their professionalism, their experience and credentials in this field, their dedication to pursuing equal justice for all, and their commitment to the independence of the Department of Justice,” the White House said.

As part of its work to enforce federal laws, the U.S. attorney in recent years has also targeted political corruption and fraud. For instance, prosecutors successfully brought cases against former House Speaker Sal DiMasi, former Sen. Dianne Wilkerson, former Rep. David Nangle, and former Fall River Mayor Jasiel Correia.

A Northeastern University School of Law graduate, Rollins worked as an assistant U.S. attorney from 2007 to 2011 before holding general counsel positions at the state Department of Transportation and Massachusetts Port Authority.

In 2018, Rollins topped a five-person Democratic primary for Suffolk DA with 39 percent of the vote, then took 80 percent of the vote in the general election.

She made major waves early in her tenure, outlining a “progressive prosecution” strategy for her office in March 2019 that called for pursuing diversion or dismissal in many nonviolent, low-level cases.

That move drew criticism from Gov. Charlie Baker’s public safety chief, who told Rollins at the time that her prosecutorial policies “do not reflect the careful balance struck” in a 2018 criminal justice reform bill.

Rollins also called in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic for releasing some inmates from Massachusetts jails and prisons to reduce the risks of transmission, saying at the time that inmates were “essentially sitting in a petri dish.”

“As Suffolk County District Attorney, Rachael Rollins has demonstrated what a difference a DA makes; from moving to dismiss thousands of cases tainted by Massachusetts’ drug lab scandals to declining to prosecute several low-level offenses, she has prioritized racial justice and fairness in our legal system,” said ACLU Massachusetts Executive Director Carol Rose. “The ACLU looks forward to working with her if she is confirmed as U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts.”

Rose, whose organization does not endorse or oppose nominees, said she wants Gov. Baker to select a successor, interim DA “who will continue the work toward a legal system that is focused on transformation and healing — not convictions and incarceration.”

Baker, a Republican, would be responsible for selecting an interim Suffolk County district attorney to succeed Rollins until the 2022 election if she departs.

It would be a major decision for Baker, who has yet to announce if he will seek re-election in 2022. He could tap a member of his own party — who did not have a candidate on the ballot last cycle — but such a move could rankle legislative leaders and many Suffolk County voters.

The Boston Globe reported in May that Rollins would like to see Daniel Mulhern, her first assistant, succeed her as DA if she is confirmed as U.S. attorney.

In an April 15 tweet, Rollins said, “FYI, when DA’s leave, at least all the men that did before I was elected, they recommend (tell) the Governor who should replace them.”

In 1992, Suffolk County District Attorney Newman Flanagan departed to lead a national association of district attorneys. Republican Gov. William Weld named former federal prosecutor Ralph Martin as acting Suffolk DA, and Martin, a Republican, went on to win four-year terms in 1994 and 1998.

The Biden administration has returned to the Massachusetts well on multiple occasions to fill federal jobs. Former Boston Mayor Martin Walsh is serving as U.S. labor secretary, former Massachusetts Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack took a job as deputy administrator at the Federal Highway Administration, and House Majority Leader Claire Cronin has been tapped as U.S. ambassador to Ireland.

Rollins’s departure would require Boston voters to select a new district attorney in 2022, one year after they will choose a permanent mayor to serve a full term.

U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley and U.S. Sen. Ed Markey both praised the Biden administration for selecting Rollins, with Pressley calling her “my sister in service.”

“She has fought to transform our legal system by prioritizing racial justice, decarceration & reimagining public safety in MA,” Pressley tweeted.

Markey said he and fellow Sen. Elizabeth Warren “were proud to recommend” Rollins, adding that “we will work to make sure she is confirmed as quickly as possible.”

Trump administration appointee Andrew Lelling spent more than three years as U.S. attorney until he resigned in February. Nathaniel Mendell has served on an acting basis since then.

Governor Charlie Baker Announces Appointment of Jamey Tesler as Transportation Secretary

Governor Charlie Baker and Lt. Governor Karyn Polito today announced the appointment of Jamey L. Tesler as Secretary of Transportation and CEO of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT). Tesler has served as Acting Secretary since January, when he was appointed to replace former Secretary Stephanie Pollack after Pollack’s appointment as Deputy Administrator of the Federal Highway Administration for the Biden-Harris Administration.

“Jamey Tesler is a dynamic leader and with several years of experience in senior roles in the transportation sector, he and the team at the Department are ready to advance the important work underway across Massachusetts’ transportation systems,” said Governor Charlie Baker.  “From safety to planning for the mobility needs of the Commonwealth’s future, the job of Transportation Secretary is hugely important and Jamey is the right person to lead the Department.”

“In continuing in his role as Secretary, Jamey will remain a strong partner for officials at the municipal level, ensuring a commitment to local infrastructure and projects,” said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito. “We are grateful for his ongoing leadership and dedication to the transportation sector and service to the people of this Commonwealth.”

“Since January, it has been the honor of my professional career to serve as Acting Secretary of Transportation and I am grateful and humbled that Governor Baker and Lt. Governor Polito have confidence in my ability to continue to lead the organization as we deliver a transportation system that is safe, reliable, resilient and equitable,” said Secretary Jamey Tesler.  “With the support of MassDOT’s dedicated workforce and management team, I am looking forward to continuing to advance customer service improvements, programs giving municipalities resources, and infrastructure projects which connect people with where they want to go, whether they are walking, bicycling, traveling by public transportation, or riding in a vehicle.”

Prior to his appointment as Acting Secretary in January, Tesler served as Registrar of Motor Vehicles. He has years of experience across the Department of Transportation and has worked for more than 16 years in senior management roles in the public sector, including as General Counsel to the Massachusetts State Treasurer, Deputy Legal Counsel in the Office of the Governor, Deputy General Counsel for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA), MassDOT Assistant Secretary for Procurement and Contract Management, Acting Chief of Staff for the Secretary of Transportation, and then as Chief Operating Officer at MassDOT. Tesler received his bachelor’s degree in Economics and International Relations from the University of Pennsylvania and his Juris Doctor from the University of Michigan.

Learn more about the Massachusetts Department of Transportation.

Rates Set for Employers’ Extra COVID-19 UI Assessments

Article Source: State House News Service

Author: Chris Lisinski


Employers in Massachusetts will face additional assessments equal to 10.5 percent of their unemployment insurance rates as part of an accounting fix the state deployed to soften the pandemic’s impacts, the Baker administration announced last week.

The unemployment system stabilization law Gov. Charlie Baker signed in May unwound massive spikes in the bills that businesses pay to fund joblessness benefits while imposing a new COVID-related charge, but until recently, employers did not know how much the additional assessments would cost.

In a letter to businesses dated Thursday, the Department of Unemployment Assistance announced the quarterly “COVID-19 Recovery Assessment” will be equal to 10.5 percent of each employer’s existing UI rate. The Boston Business Journal first reported about the letter on Friday.

Those who pay a UI rate of 4.98 percent, for example, will face an additional COVID-19 assessment at a 0.523 percent rate. Adjusted UI rates and COVID rates will be available starting July 26, the department said, with bills for the first and second quarters due by Aug. 31.

COVID-19 Recovery Assessments will be retroactive to Jan. 1 of this year and will help “manageably spread over time the cost of benefits paid by the UI Trust Fund in 2020 and 2021,” DUA wrote in its letter.

While the law aimed to reduce the immediate impact and trimmed the solvency assessment rate from 9.23 percent to about 1.1 percent, employers remain on the hook in the long term to cover the upheaval in the state’s unemployment insurance trust fund. As of May 31, the fund had a balance nearly $1.8 billion in the red, according to the most recent state report.

Business groups (including North Central Massachusetts Chamber of Commerce) have been pushing for the Legislature and administration to use a portion of state government’s roughly $5 billion American Rescue Plan Act funding to pay down the deficit and reduce the burden they face. Lawmakers will kick off a public hearing process Tuesday about how to use that money.

Baker-Polito Administration to Invest $186 Million in Federal COVID-19 Funding for Critical Health Care and Workforce Priorities

The Baker-Polito Administration today announced it will invest $186 million of the Commonwealth’s direct federal aid from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) toward critical priorities including support for hospitals, health and human services, mental health, and workforce development. Utilizing these federal resources now will help further the Commonwealth’s economic recovery and provide relief for residents hardest-hit by COVID-19, such as lower-wage workers and communities of color.

This $186 million is part of a total of approximately $5.3 billion in direct aid awarded to the Commonwealth through ARPA. The funding announced today is part of $200 million provided to the Administration in recently signed legislation for addressing critical needs as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Governor Baker has filed legislation to put an additional $2.915 billion of this funding to immediate use to address additional urgent and pressing needs including housing and homeownership, economic development and local downtowns, job training and workforce development, health care, and infrastructure.

“Our administration is putting this $186 million to work now because many communities throughout Massachusetts – especially low-income families and communities of color – have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 and cannot wait for assistance. More than 400,000 residents are due to lose enhanced unemployment benefits in the first week of September, making the workforce training funding particularly urgent,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “We look forward to working quickly with our colleagues in the Legislature in allocating additional funding and providing residents and families with relief from the housing, economic, workforce, health care, and other challenges which continue to face the Commonwealth as we recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.”

“Investing this $186 million is an important step in helping those who have been hard-hit by the pandemic, and we must continue deploying federal resources to further the economic recovery,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “These funds will help address crucial health care and workforce priorities, and we look forward to quickly getting them out the door and into our local communities.”

Highlights of this $186 million investment plan include:

Health Care

  • $55 million for health and human services’ workforce development. Funding will enable 10% immediate time-limited rate enhancements from July through December 2021, helping strengthen and stabilize the state’s provider networks’ workforce in response to the COVID-19 public health emergency.
  • $50 million for fiscally distressed hospitals. This funding will help stabilize safety net hospital systems that have experienced significant financial shortfalls according to the latest data published by CHIA and those serving communities that were disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. 
  • $31 million for inpatient psychiatric acute facilities, both free-standing and in general hospitals. This investment will help bridge a significant staffing gap which is resulting in many individuals not being able to access licensed psychiatric beds and therefore spending extensive periods of time in emergency rooms. Funding will provide temporary supplemental payments to recruit critically needed clinical and direct care staff.


  • Up to $50 million to help train an estimated 15,000 unemployed or underemployed individuals across Massachusetts by providing industry credentials in critical areas of the economy such as advanced manufacturing, health care, information technology, and construction. Funding will also help scale up workforce development efforts in work readiness programs such as ESOL and the Signal Success soft skills-building curriculum.

The discretionary funds awarded to the Commonwealth through ARPA are intended to support urgent COVID-19 response efforts, replace lost revenue, support immediate economic stabilization for households and businesses, and address unequal public health and economic challenges in Massachusetts cities and towns throughout the pandemic. ARPA is also providing a total of $3.4 billion in direct aid for local governments throughout Massachusetts.

Massachusetts expects to benefit from a total of approximately $113 billion in COVID-related federal aid provided through the six pieces of federal legislation enacted during the pandemic. The majority of this funding is outside of the Commonwealth’s discretion. For example, over $50 billion is going directly to individuals and businesses in the form of stimulus payments, Paycheck Protection Program loans, Unemployment Assistance, and other initiatives. Over $3 billion has been awarded to the MBTA, RTAs, airports, and transportation. Approximately $2.9 billion has been awarded in Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER Grants) for local schools, over $1.5 billion is being provided for higher education relief, and nearly $700 million has been awarded for child care.

Chamber Welcomes Bemis Associates, Inc. as Newest Regional Leader Member

The Chamber is pleased to announce the addition of Bemis Associates Inc. as its newest Regional Leader level member.

Bemis Associates, Inc. is a manufacturer of thermoplastic adhesives, coatings, tapes and specialty film products for bonding. Headquartered in Shirley, MA, the company is one of the world’s leading bonding innovation experts and has partnered with global brands from a diverse set of industries including performance sportswear, technical outerwear, intimate apparel, footwear, consumer electronics, and industrial applications.

Bemis is one of an elite group of prominent businesses and organizations to hold the prestigious position of Regional Leader level member. Regional Leaders make a vital commitment to the economic development of the region through their enhanced investment in the Chamber. They also serve as key advisors and maintain a close relationship to the organization. Their support helps shape the future of North Central Massachusetts by providing resources and the benefits of their advice and wisdom.

Michael Johansen, President of Bemis Associates, Inc., explained, “The North Central Massachusetts Chamber is an outstanding organization with a clear record of advancing economic opportunity in the region.  We like their work supporting businesses of all sizes in North Central Massachusetts.  And, in particular, the Chamber’s recognition of the key role manufacturing plays in our local economy is very appealing.  Bemis is pleased to partner with them and help further their mission.”

Weekly Download: Choosing The Right Photographer For Your Business Needs

Events, Products and Head-shots… Oh My! Choosing The Right Photographer For Your Business Needs

Whether you need full-color photos for your restaurant menu, headshots for your annual report, or mobile-friendly videos to add to your website, investing in professional photography services can deliver great returns for your business.

Here’s what you need to know about choosing the right photographer for your business needs:

Consider Your Priorities

While virtually anyone can snap digital pictures, there’s a real art to taking clean, attractive photos that enhance your business and appeal to your audience.

Start by making a list of what you need a photographer to do for your company. Are you looking for headshots to add to your webpage, static product shots for a brochure, or action photos for your social media feed? Professional photographers tend to specialize in one or two types of photography such as portraits, real estate, product photos, or live-action images.

Ask About Ownership

Simply hiring a photographer to take pictures for your business doesn’t necessarily give you the rights to use the photos they take on your website, print materials, or business cards. Be sure to discuss ownership of the images up front, and get your agreement in writing. For example, you may need to negotiate a Digital Rights Fee – a contract that clearly outlines how you can use the photographs and whether or not you need to give the photographer credit each time you publish a photo they took.

Discuss Retouching Fees

Thanks to the magic of photo-editing programs like Photoshop, many photographers now offer value-added services to remove small blemishes, clean up backgrounds, and even edit in people into photographs. All this digital photo magic comes at a price, so be sure to explore exactly what photo editing will cost before you sign a contract.

Ask For A Portfolio

Professional photographers are expected to maintain an active portfolio of their work so they can show of their skills to prospective clients. Review recent work of photographers you’re considering using, and as with all contractors, take the time to ask for references.

Baker-Polito Administration Releases Future of Work Report; Outlines Ongoing Steps To Address Findings

The Baker-Polito Administration today released the Future of Work Report, commissioned by the Administration to evaluate the ways that the COVID-19 pandemic has changed work habits in Massachusetts as the Commonwealth emerges from the pandemic. The Administration also outlined steps that it is taking to address the key findings of the report, with investments and other initiatives to boost housing production and downtown economies, connect workers with skills for high-demand fields, support changing transportation needs, promote flexibility in child care, and more.

Click here to read the report.

Governor Charlie Baker and Lt. Governor Karyn Polito announced the release of the report today at an event held at the Tufts Launchpad location for BioLabs, a biotech startup accelerator that is receiving $102,000 to train 27 workers and create 20 jobs as part of the latest round of awards from the Administration’s Workforce Training Fund Program (WTFP). In total, the WTFP program is awarding $8 million through this latest round to about 100 businesses statewide to support the training of 4,300 workers with a range of skills like project management, advanced software training, and other technical skills. A key takeaway from the report is the need to re-credential hundreds of thousands of workers over the next decade, and the Administration is proposing to boost investments in programs like the WTFP through its $2.9 billion plan to spend part of the discretionary funds received by the Commonwealth from the federal American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA). The Administration’s plan includes $240 million for workforce development and job-training programs.

“Massachusetts is well-positioned as we emerge from the pandemic and look to promote economic growth, and the Future of Work Report provides us with a roadmap to build on our strengths and address areas that remain challenges,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “Our Administration is working to respond to this report’s findings by pursuing significant investments in housing, job-training and downtown development through our plan to invest $2.9 billion in federal funds from the American Rescue Plan Act. We are also making investments and using other tools to provide more flexibility for residents in child care and transportation, and we look forward to continuing to partner with workers, businesses and communities to respond to the needs raised in this report.”

“The Future of Work Report provides us with a blueprint for building up the Commonwealth’s housing stock, workforce, downtown economies, and infrastructure,” said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito. “The Report evaluated potential changes in the economic landscape for each region of Massachusetts, and underscores the importance of our proposals to invest in housing, job-training and communities.”

The Future of Work Report explores what the implications of COVID-19 might be for the Commonwealth across its regions, demographics, economic sectors, commercial centers, local downtowns, transportation, and public spaces. COVID-19 has shifted how Massachusetts residents work, which has accelerated many existing factors that impact the future of work (such as the use of e-commerce and the pace of adoption of automation).  In addition, new factors have emerged (such as the spread of remote and hybrid work and a reduction in business travel). These factors impact Massachusetts residents differently based on region, industry, occupation, gender, and race. Recognizing this, the report evaluated implications of these trends across different regions and analyzed their impact on the Commonwealth’s Gateway Cities.

Report Takeaways:

The report concludes that changing ways of working – such as hybrid and remote work – may shift the “center of gravity” away from the urban core.  At the same time, changes in the economic landscape will mean that expansive workforce training will be needed to connect workers with the skills they need for the future economy, with potentially 300,000-400,000 people needing to transition to different occupations or occupational categories over the next decade.

Meanwhile, the report finds that the high cost of housing will remain a challenge – as will the need to ensure all communities can share equitably in the Commonwealth’s growth. The report estimates that the Commonwealth will need to produce 125,000-200,000 housing units by 2030.

The report provides eight core insights:

  1. Demand for office real estate may fall as workers spend more time in residential areas due to hybrid work.
  2. Hybrid work will likely drive demand for flexible childcare options, requiring childcare business models to evolve.
  3. Public transit ridership is likely to fall, with the steepest decline likely in commuter rail.
  4. Business travel may be structurally reduced from pre-pandemic levels.
  5. Workforce training may be required at an unprecedented scale and pace.
  6. The Commonwealth population is likely to grow, albeit more slowly than pre-pandemic
  7. Existing equity challenges will intensify.
  8. Equitable housing opportunities will be key to retaining and attracting people.

Administration’s Plans to Address Report’s Findings:

The Baker-Polito Administration is using a variety of tools to address the key findings from this report:

$2.9 Billion Plan for ARPA Funds: The Administration’s proposal to spend $2.9 billion in federal funds from the American Rescue Plan addresses many of the key needs presented in the report. It focuses on building up the Commonwealth’s housing stock, workforce, downtown economies, and infrastructure. The Administration filed this plan in June and believes it is critical to act quickly to address these urgent priorities.  The Future of Work Study underscores the importance of these investments, which would immediately begin to address the key challenges presented in the report, including:

  • $1 billion for housing priorities, with a particular focus on creating homeownership opportunities in communities of color. This proposal would be a significant step toward addressing the concerns raised in the report around the cost of housing and continued challenges around equity in different communities.
  • $240 million for workforce training opportunities to help train workers to connect with high-demand industries, a key priority raised in the report. The report makes clear that these types of retraining efforts could especially benefit women and communities of color, addressing additional equity concerns raised by the report.
  • $350 million for downtown development and economic growth, to help communities re-imagine their downtowns and spur development as the center of gravity shifts away from the urban core.
  • $175 million to boost substance use and behavioral health programming, a key area where communities of color have been most impacted throughout the pandemic.

Child Care Improvements: The Future of Work Report calls for innovation in child care to meet the changing needs of working families and employers. To address continued challenges in the early education space as the Commonwealth emerges from the pandemic, the Administration is taking a series of actions:

  • Investing over $640 million in federal funding for child care, focusing on building capacity at early education providers and targeting funds to the greatest areas of need according to the Social Vulnerability Index.
  • Sustaining increased child care subsidies for low-income families and other pandemic-era changes that expand access to care.
  • Leveraging the Commonwealth’s workforce development programs to develop a stable pipeline of early educators to expand access to affordable care.
  • Partnering with the business community to best understand specific needs for flexibility across specific industries and regions.

Transportation Flexibility and Improvements: To support shifting work habits and other trends identified in the report, the MBTA and MassDOT are modifying schedules and making other adjustments:

  • The Commuter Rail’s new Regional Rail Schedule represents a shift toward more consistent, regular service throughout the day, compared to pre-pandemic service that was heavily skewed toward AM and PM rushes. These adjustments reflect analysis of ridership trends throughout the pandemic and into the recovery. The new Regional Rail Schedule supports increasing travel habits like intra-line (non-Boston) trips and reverse commutes to Gateway Cities. It also supports teleworkers’ local trips and 3-day-per-week commuters.
  • Continued promotion of weekend service, such as $10 weekend passes will also promote travel to key recreational and tourist destinations outside of Boston. For example, thanks in part to this Commuter Rail promotion, Salem is seeing 110% of 2019 weekend ridership this year.
  • The Shared Streets and Spaces Grant Program has helped communities make streetscape changes to support outdoor dining and alternative transportation modes like cycling, walking and off-road trails. Since last year, the program has awarded $33 million to 183 communities, resulting in over 300 projects.

House, Senate Negotiators Agree to $48.1 Billion Budget

Article Source: State House News Service

Author: Matt Murphy


A deal to raise tax collection estimates by more than $4.2 billion and spend nearly $48.1 billion in fiscal year 2022 came together Thursday with House and Senate lawmakers filing a compromise budget that would also make the state’s controversial film tax credit permanent.

The budget deal, according to House and Senate officials, accounts for surging tax collections over the last six months that have far outpaced the projections agreed to by legislative leaders and the Baker administration at the start of the year.

The expectation of additional tax revenue was used by budget negotiators, in part, to create a $350 million trust fund that could be tapped in future years to help cover the cost of a $1.5 billion school funding reform law passed in 2019, known as the Student Opportunity Act.

The budget filed Thursday evening (H 4002) also reflects the decision of negotiators to cancel a planned draw on the state’s reserves of at least $1.5 billion and proposes to make a supplemental deposit of $250 million into the state’s pension system.

House Ways and Means Chairman Aaron Michlewitz and Senate Ways and Means Chairman Michael Rodrigues announced the compromise Thursday afternoon, and leaders in both branches hope to pass the budget on Friday and send it to Gov. Charlie Baker for his review.

Massachusetts is one of just four states in the country that started its fiscal year on July 1 and does not have an annual budget in place. Though the budget is already eight days late, the Legislature and Gov. Baker put in place a temporary budget totaling $5.4 billion to keep government operations funded through July.

The Legislature and Baker postponed implementation of the seven-year school funding reform law during the COVID-19 pandemic, but the new budget increases Chapter 70 school aid by $219.6 million in fiscal year 2022 to $5.5 billion. The spending puts the state back on track to meet the state’s funding commitment over the next six years, and one budget official said the new trust fund would protect against future setbacks.

In addition to resolving disagreements over spending, leaders for the two branches came to an agreement that would permanently extend the state’s tax credit for film production in Massachusetts, which supporters have defended as a job creator but critics have derided as too expensive.

The compromise plan calls for the January 2023 sunset of the tax credit to be cancelled, but would increase the eligibility threshold for a production company by requiring at least 75 percent of its filming budget to be spent or at least 75 percent of principal photography days to take place in Massachusetts.

The House had voted to simply eliminate the tax credit’s expiration date, while the Senate proposed a four-year extension tied to an increase in the minimum number of filming days from 50 percent, a cap on eligible salaries at $1 million, and a ban on the transfer of credit.

The salary cap and transferability ban were not included in the final compromise.

The compromise budget also scrapped a Senate-backed plan to raise fees on Uber and Lyft rides to generate new money for the municipalities, the MBTA, regional transit authorities and other infrastructure needs.

The House has voted in favor of tiered increases in transportation network companies fees in the past, but they were vetoed by Gov. Baker and the branch did not include the fees as part of its budget proposal this year.

After fearing the worst at the start of the pandemic, legislative budget writers have largely avoided having to deal with the massive tax collection downturn forecast by economists at the start of the pandemic.

Instead, Democratic leaders have had the opposite challenge – how to allocate billions in unbudgeted revenues.

After agreeing in January to an estimate of $30.12 billion in taxes, Michlewitz and Rodrigues agreed in the budget filed Thursday to increase the tax revenue projections for fiscal 2022 to $34.35 billion, a whopping $4.23 billion increase.

The new projection reflects what House and Senate budget official described as an increase of $362 million, or about 1 percent, above preliminary tax estimates for fiscal 2021 of roughly $34 billion. The Department of Revenue has not yet released final tax revenue figures for fiscal 2021, but lawmakers are expecting a sizable surplus to spend after leaders verbally rejected Baker’s call for a two-month sales tax holiday.

The new flexibility in the fiscal 2022 budget allowed negotiators to fund accounts across the board at the higher level of what was recommended by either the House or Senate, adding roughly $300 million in additional spending added to the $47.7 billion budgets passed by both branches this spring.

That step led to larger bottom lines for higher education, nursing homes, local health departments, mental health programs and early educator salaries.

The conference committee also agreed to boost funding for some accounts beyond what had been proposed previously, including an additional $17 million for the Workforce Competitive Trust Fund, $18 million for career-technical institutes, and $9.5 million for one-stop career centers.

House Speaker Ron Mariano’s initiative to incentivize training for jobs in the offshore wind industry also got included with a boost from $10 million to $13 million, and a new cyber security consortium will work community colleges and state universities to create careers opportunities in cyber security.

Additionally, the compromise bill, according to officials, would cancel a planned withdrawal of at least $1.5 billion from the state’s “rainy day” fund, and projects a deposit into the reserve account of more than $1.1 billion in capital gains taxes that would drive the balance of the emergency fund to $5.8 billion by the end of fiscal year 2022.

Other highlights of the compromise budget include one-time raises for sheriffs of about $20,000, the extension of an historic rehabilitation tax credit, a new tax credit for the hiring of disabled workers and the conversion of a child care tax deduction into a refundable credit that would allow more low-income families to qualify.

The final compromise also dropped a provision described in a letter last week by 40 House lawmakers as an “anti-worker” measure added to the Senate budget that would have reversed the state’s law requiring triple damages in wage and hour lawsuits.