CHAMBER RELEASES STUDY PROFILING NORTH CENTRAL MASSACHUSETTS ECONOMY

A new report released today by the North Central Massachusetts Chamber of Commerce provides an in-depth look at the twenty-seven communities that comprise North Central Massachusetts.  The Regional Economic Profile was compiled by a research team at the University of Massachusetts Donahue Institute and combines detailed economic, labor market and socioeconomic data, as well as analysis on the economic conditions within the region. The Chamber commissioned the Economic Profile report to support economic development efforts and serve as a resource for local businesses to make evidence based decisions.

 

“Our top priority is to advance the economy of North Central Massachusetts,” said Roy Nascimento, President & CEO of the North Central Massachusetts Chamber of Commerce and the North Central Massachusetts Development Corporation. “This research validates what we already know – that North Central Massachusetts is a great place to live, work, visit and grow a business.  We envision using the report to showcase the region, answer queries and support ongoing economic development efforts.”

 

“We are very excited to have worked with the Chamber on this report, and accompanying online data tool, highlighting the competitive advantages and issues facing North Central Massachusetts.  It provides extensive benchmarking indicators comparing the region to other places around the state” said Mark Melnik, Director of Economic and Public Policy Research at the UMass Donahue Institute. “We hope this report will be a useful resource to help support economic development in the region and can serve as a model for other regions around the state.”

 

Some key highlights of the Economic Profile research include:

 

  • Proximity to Boston, Worcester and Southern New Hampshire benefits North Central businesses in terms of labor and market access. Commercial leasing rates that are a fraction of Boston’s and significantly lower than those found in the MetroWest area also boost the appeal of North Central Massachusetts.

 

  • The availability of large parcels of land with high capacity infrastructure in combination with proximity to highways, rail lines and airports also constitutes an advantage for the region. Large parcels with access to both transportation and infrastructure are becoming increasingly scarce and expensive in and around the fast-growing Boston-Cambridge area.

 

  • North Central Massachusetts has a diverse economy with notable strengths in healthcare and manufacturing (led by plastics products, pharmaceuticals, and electronics). Manufacturing is nearly twice as concentrated in North Central Massachusetts compared to national averages. Since 2010, most major sectors in the region have seen job growth.

 

  • Agriculture and food and beverage manufacturing have seen growth in North Central Massachusetts and now employ about 3,500 people. Agriculture is more concentrated in the region than the national average.

 

  • Thirty-two percent of the residents in North Central Massachusetts have a bachelor’s degree or higher and fully 61 percent of adults have some level of college or higher, indicating that the region possesses a varied and skilled workforce.

 

  • On standardized tests, students in North Central Massachusetts score higher than the state in science and English. SAT scores are on par or slightly higher than the state while the region’s dropout rate is lower.

 

  • Quality homes in good school districts are a draw for North Central Massachusetts. The average home values in affluent towns like Groton, Harvard, and Princeton are well below those in comparable MetroWest towns like Natick and Sudbury.

 

A full copy of the Economic Profile study can be found here.

 

The Economic and Public Policy Research (EPPR) group at the UMass Donahue Institute is a leading provider of applied research, helping clients make more informed decisions about strategic economic and public policy issues. EPPR produces in-depth economic impact and industry studies that help clients build credibility, gain visibility, educate constituents, plan economic development initiatives, and prioritize investments.  For more information on the group, please visit www.donahue.umassp.edu/EPPR.

 

This research is part of the North Central Massachusetts Chamber’s continuing efforts to help promote the region and advance the economy of North Central Massachusetts.  For more information on the North Central Massachusetts Chamber of Commerce and its affiliate organizations, please visit NorthCentralMass.com or contact the Chamber at 978.353.7600.

Scholarships Available through the North Central Massachusetts Chamber Foundation

The North Central Massachusetts Chamber Foundation is pleased to announce that applications for its 2020 Scholarship program are now being accepted. Each year, the Chamber Foundation distributes approximately 25 scholarships to local high-achieving high school students in North Central Massachusetts. Since the establishment of its scholarship program, the North Central Massachusetts Chamber Foundation has awarded over a million dollars in scholarships.

Students interested in applying for a 2020 scholarship through the North Central Massachusetts Chamber Foundation should contact their high school guidance department to submit an application. Deadline for applications is Friday, February 28, 2020. A limited number of scholarship applicants are submitted by each school in the Chamber’s service area each year and then reviewed by a committee of Chamber members.

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’s 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 Foundation are utilized primarily for education/workforce development initiatives and charitable activities in North Central Massachusetts, including scholarships to eligible applicants pursuing education and grants to support economic and community development projects.

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

Advertising Opportunities in the 2020 Manufacturers Directory

Don’t get left out! The North Central Massachusetts Development Corporation is getting ready to publish the 2020 edition of the Manufacturers Directory and Industrial Parks Guide for North Central Massachusetts. 

This publication is the region’s most comprehensive collection of this specialized information, outlining available industrial sites and local manufacturing related businesses, describing products, contact information and more. The directory is designed to promote and connect manufacturers with suppliers as well as serve as a resource for companies looking to relocate or expand throughout the region. Ad rates start at just $350. Please email Yasmin Loft at yloft@northcentralmass.com for more information or to reserve your advertisement.

Fitchburg Moves to Single Tax Rate; Clinton Narrows Split

In a momentous week, the North Central Massachusetts Chamber of Commerce was on hand to testify before elected officials in Clinton and Fitchburg this week as the two communities reviewed their tax shifts for the year. In a major win for local business, Fitchburg councilors elected to move to a single rate, eliminating what remained of a six point shift! A night later, Clinton’s selectmen voted unanimously to move to a 1.52 tax shift, narrowing their split by two points and committing to moving towards a single rate over time.

Massachusetts allows two models for property taxes: single and dual rates. The single rate means that both residential and commercial/industrial properties are taxed at the same level. Meanwhile, a dual rate system dictates that commercial and industrial property taxpayers shoulder more of the burden and pays a higher share of taxes based on a property’s assessed value. A dual tax system increases costs for businesses, disincentivizes business investment and puts a community at a competitive disadvantage compared with neighboring communities that maintain a single rate.

“Your decision to gradually move towards a single tax rate is the right decision long term for the City” stated Roy Nascimento, President & CEO of the Chamber during the Fitchburg’s City Council tax hearing. “Making the commercial tax burden more competitive will position Fitchburg to attract new business investment, retain existing businesses, increase tax revenues and change outdated perceptions that the City is unfriendly to business.”

Tax shifts became a common tool to alleviate the tax burden on residents- at the expense of businesses- in the 1980s. Since then, many communities have come to recognize that imposing a split tax rate places them at a competitive disadvantage, incentivizing businesses to locate in other communities with more equitable tax policies. For that reason, only a handful of communities within the region still maintain a tax split. In smaller communities, where a greater share of real estate is zoned as residential, a tax shift is particularly frustrating as the share of the levy is transferred over to a smaller collection of stakeholders. As such, a 1.50 shift can sometimes increase a commercial ratepayers bill by as much as double in absolute terms.

This week’s votes are significant as the tax shift is perhaps the most immediate and direct manner in which municipal officials can impact businesses within their communities. “We recognize that tax rates are only one factor in an economy – energy costs, workforce, health care costs, and many other things also play a role”, Nascimento stated while speaking before Clinton’s Selectmen. “But there is nothing you can do about health care costs, energy costs, and so on. Adopting a more competitive tax rate and working towards a single rate is something that you can do something about.”

The Chamber applauds the actions of the Fitchburg City Council and the Clinton Board of Selectmen. The adoption of the single tax rate passed by an 8-2 margin at the Tuesday, December 3, 2019 Fitchburg City Council meeting with Councilors Marcus DiNatale; E. Thomas Donnelly; Marisa Fleming; Amy Green; Joel

R. Kaddy; Michael Kushmerek; Elizabeth Walsh; and Anthony Zarrella voting in favor and Councilors Samantha Squailia and Paul Beauchemin voting against. The reduction in the property tax shift from 154% to 152% passed unanimously at the Wednesday, December 4, 2019 Board of Selectmen meeting with select board members William F. Connolly, Jr.; Sean J. Kerrigan; Edward J. Devault; Michael J. Dziokonski; and John J. Boisoneau all voting to adopt the reduction.

Chamber Convenes Education Compact

The North Central Massachusetts Chamber of Commerce recently convened a meeting of the inaugural North Central Massachusetts Education Compact. The Education Compact is an outgrowth of the Chamber’s report published earlier in the year called Build North Central: Promoting the Industrial Heart of Massachusetts. Among the recommendations in the report was strengthening the relationship between employers and schools throughout the region through a group of this nature that could serve as an ongoing channel of communication between stakeholders. This high-level leadership group is intended to help facilitate partnerships around the shared goals of improving college and career pathways for students. The group is comprised of leaders in education, business and workforce development.

“We are excited to convene this group of decision makers from throughout North Central Massachusetts to continue the conversation about how we can work together to shape the educational experience for students and ultimately better prepare them for college and careers,” said Roy M. Nascimento, President & CEO of the North Central Massachusetts Chamber of Commerce. “Through the Education Compact we are unified under a collective commitment to action and leadership!”

During the meeting, Chamber President Roy Nascimento presented data on the region, economic trends and the current and future workforce challenges faced by employers and school leaders. The group also examined several successful initiatives that were developed from similar collaborative models in other parts of the country. The Education Compact plans to meet periodically to continue the dialogue and action needed to advance schools in the region.

“In many ways, our schools are the best in the country- the world”, stated Steve Rocheleau, owner and operator of Rocheleau Tool and Die. “Conversations between educators and business are vital to be sure we close any gaps between curriculum and needs of business so together we can help our region develop opportunities for our youth to succeed here in North Central Massachusetts and provide a strong workforce for global competitiveness.”

Convening the Education Compact is part of the Chamber’s continuing efforts to advance the economy of North Central Massachusetts. The Chamber has long been a champion of education and has been actively engaged in supporting schools and students. The Chamber recognizes that the quality and accessibility of our educational institutions is critical to the health and prosperity of the state and regional economy. For more information on the North Central Massachusetts Education Compact or to inquire about joining the group, please contact the Chamber at 978.353.7600.

Chamber to Unveil Regional Economic Study at January Edition of Good Morning North Central

The next edition of the North Central Massachusetts Chamber’s popular Good Morning North Central breakfast series is scheduled for Friday, January 10, 2020 from 6:45 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. at the Doubletree by Hilton, 99 Erdman Way, Leominster, MA. The January edition is sponsored by Resource Management, Inc.

The Good Morning North Central series is a high-profile, fast-paced and educational breakfast program geared towards executives, senior managers, professionals and business owners. Each of the programs has a business-oriented focus and features popular speakers to present on topics of interest to local businesses.

The featured speaker is Dr. Mark Melnik, Director of Economic and Public Policy Research at the University of Massachusetts Donahue Institute. The Donahue Institute is the economic development arm of the UMass President’s Office. Dr. Melnik will be presenting the findings of an economic profile study of North Central Massachusetts that was commissioned by the Chamber. The economic study combines detailed economic, labor market and socioeconomic data, as well as analysis on the economic conditions within the region. The Chamber commissioned the study to support economic development efforts and as a resource for local businesses.

Dr. Mark Melnik specializes in demographic, socio-economic, and labor market issues and leads a 15-person team working on variety of economic and public policy research projects informing clients in government, private industry, and the non-profit sectors. In his time at the Institute, Dr. Melnik has served as the principal-in-charge on projects with such clients as the Secretary of the Commonwealth, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, the Boston Foundation, the City of Boston, the City of Cambridge, MassDOT, the New England Foundation for the Arts, MassEcon, MassDevelopment, the Boston Private Industry Council, the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development, the Massachusetts Housing Partnership, and the MetroSouth Chamber of Commerce. In addition, Dr. Melnik serves as the Senior Managing Editor of MassBenchmarks, the journal of the Massachusetts economy published by the Institute in cooperation with the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.

He holds a doctorate in sociology from Northeastern University. His dissertation explored skill and credential mismatches in the greater Boston labor market. He received his master of arts

from Northeastern University and his bachelor of arts from Youngstown State University, both in sociology.

The cost is just $25 for Chamber members/$40 non-members and includes a breakfast buffet. Pre-registration is required. For more information or to register, please contact Kathleen Deal at 978.353.7600 ext. 235, kdeal@northcentralmass.com or register here.

Chamber Produces New Economic Development Video

The North Central Massachusetts Chamber of Commerce and its economic development affiliates, the North Central Massachusetts Development Corporation and Visit North Central Massachusetts, recently unveiled a new economic development video intended to highlight the region as a great place to live, work, visit and grow a business.  The video is the third and final video in a series that was commissioned over the last year to promote the 27 communities which comprise North Central Massachusetts.     

This short video includes strong visual content showcasing the dynamic and diverse nature of the region.  It highlights the advantages of living and working in North Central Massachusetts, including quality of place, affordability, education, workforce and the region’s convenient proximity to Boston, Worcester and other population centers.  The video also spotlights the region’s strengths in manufacturing, small business and its scenic beauty.  Only two minutes and thirty-five seconds in length, the video clip creates an immediate impact and leaves the viewer with positive impressions of the region long after viewing it.   

“We created this video to help tell the story of North Central Massachusetts,” said Roy M. Nascimento, President & CEO of the North Central Massachusetts Chamber of Commerce.  “Our goal is to show businesses, families and young people that North Central Massachusetts is the ideal place in New England for them to build their business, career and life.” 

The Chamber worked with TDO Productions to create the promotional video, which will be shared with multiple audiences, including developers, businesses, employees and residents.   The video also incorporated footage from Creative Eye Productions and Wachusett Ski Area.  The two previous videos focused on manufacturing, tourism and quality of life and were released in late 2018 and early 2019 respectively.  The new video can be accessed via the Chamber’s website at NorthCentralMass.com and ChooseNorthCentral.com, as well as on the Chamber’s Facebook and YouTube social media platforms. Or simply click here  The video will also be shown at select meetings and events. 

This video is part of the Chamber’s continuing efforts to help promote the region and advance the economy of North Central Massachusetts.  For more information on the North Central Massachusetts Chamber of Commerce and its affiliate organizations, please visit NorthCentralMass.com or contact the Chamber at 978.353.7600.

Toasting to the Future of North Central Massachusetts

Developing the Talent to Move the Region Forward

Recognizing the importance of fostering an environment that attracts, retains and develops young talent in our communities, the North Central Massachusetts Chamber of Commerce has established a creative suite of programs and initiatives to help members meet their workforce goals while also helping to forge the next generation of business leaders.

Young Professionals Committee | From Left to Right: AJ Tourigny, City of Fitchburg; Kelli Rooney, Leominster Credit Union; David Ginisi, North Central Massachusetts Chamber of Commerce; Paulie Chlebecek, Edward Jones; Natalia Oliver, AIS, Inc.; Kelsea Benoit, The International; Courtney Brooks, Contemporary Design & Construction; Brendan Hannen, North Central Massachusetts Development Corporation

The Young Professionals of North Central Massachusetts is a talent initiative of the Chamber that helps engage, develop and empower professionals ages 21-40 in the region. This program offers a variety of events designed to give young professionals the opportunity to grow their business network, build relationships with their peers, establish valuable mentor experiences with business leaders and contribute to the future of the region. Events range from the CEO Unplugged series that provides mentoring opportunities with established CEOs, to behind the scenes company tours and unique networking experiences. Within these events, young professionals develop leadership, communication and organizational skills through practical experience. The group relies on young professionals within the membership for direction and guidance, and has recently formed a new leadership committee to help bring new energy and keep the programs relevant and impactful.

“I believe it is crucial for a developing professional to surround one’s self with a network that shares a similar passion and drive for success. Our highest aspirations can be reached by collectively motivating and supporting one another,” said Paulie Chlebecek, Financial Advisor from Edward Jones and Chair of the Young Professionals Leadership Committee. “The Young Professionals of North Central Massachusetts encourages like-minded individuals to do just that; to connect in a manner that will build strong and successful business relationships, while provoking an approach that resonates uniquely with our next generation of talent and leadership.”

“It is my job and passion to introduce customers to our most valuable asset, my fellow employees. Business is about relationships, and our costumers love learning about AIS, and who our people are,” said Natalia Oliver, Tour Specialist o fAIS,Inc. “That is why I am thrilled to be a young professional member of this committee and attend these events and see people connecting and learning how they can build relationships.”

CLI Graduate, Sweta Khajurivala of the Montachusett Opportunity Council, receiving recognition for graduating the Chamber’s Community Leadership Institute program.

Another important leadership development initiative of the Chamber is the Community Leadership Institute (CLI). CLI was developed in 1989 to support access to the region’s many organizations, industries and business leaders as part of the succession plan not only for individual businesses but for the communityatlarge. Participants in CLI learn how to cooperate and work as a team with a diverse group of people with differing backgrounds and experiences which helps to challenge and empower them, as well as how to think critically about the challenges and opportunities faced by the region.

“Our region is fortunate to have a program that invests in building that next generation of business leaders,” said Kelli Rooney, Vice President of Marketing at Leominster Credit Union and a 2014 graduate of the Community Leadership Institute. “CLI helps to strengthen leadership skills, enhance the knowledge of the resources available in our community and creates meaningful and lasting business relationships. I am extremely lucky to have had the opportunity to experience this program.”

High School Senior, Betame DeBono of Nashoba Regional High School, is presented an Enterprise Bank Scholarship by SVP, Michael Toomey, at the Chamber’s Annual Scholarship Breakfast.

The Chamber’s efforts around developing future talent in the region go well beyond just these leadership development programs. The Chamber believes that the very foundation of our region’s talent pipeline has its roots in a strong educational system and has been a longstanding champion of education, actively engaged in supporting our schools. Perhaps the best example of this commitment to our schools is the Chamber’s longstanding scholarship program. Each year, the Chamber’s Foundation distributes over $50,000 in scholarships to local high school students graduating from among the 15 school districts within North Central Massachusetts. Since establishing the program, the Chamber Foundation has awarded well over $1,000,000 in scholarships – all made possible through generous contributions from members. Beyond scholarships, the Chamber’s efforts have included hosting career exploration programs, encouraging work- based learning opportunities, partnering with Mount Wachusett Community College and Fitchburg State University, advocating on Beacon Hill for college and career pathways, publishing reports and convening education and business leaders together to work towards improving our schools. The Chamber has even received national attention, recently receiving two national education and talent development fellowships for its efforts to cover the entire talent development pipeline.

Young Professionals Chair, Paulie Chlebecek, poses for a photo with Kieshla Rosado, Raven Miranda, and Ann Dumezil of Work, Inc. at a Chamber event.

In today’s business world, the competition for talent is intense. The Chamber recognizes this as critically important to member businesses and to the health and prosperity of our region. We have tackled these challenges and opportunities head on with this multi-pronged strategy. The Chamber will continue its clear efforts in preparing the next generation of business and community leaders while maintaining the mission of Building businesses, Building communities. ◊

This article is from the latest Chamber Report.

Chamber Introduces Online Data Center

The North Central Massachusetts Chamber has revealed a new online data center on its website – NorthCentralMass.com – to provide extensive data on the 27 communities that comprise North Central Massachusetts. The online portal features data profilesof the communities as well as aggregate regional totals. The data is organized into sections around different characteristics of the region, including population, economy quality of life and business climate. It also includes comparative data for the state and other regions. In addition, the data center also includes an interactive online dashboard that provides convenient access to data measures and allows analysis of selected data sets. The Chamber commissioned the Economic and Public Policy Group at the University of Massachusetts Donahue Institute to conduct the research and develop the new resource center.

“Our top priority is to continue to move the North Central Massachusetts economy forward.” said Roy Nascimento, President & CEO of the North Central Massachusetts Chamber of Commerce and the North Central Massachusetts Development Corporation. “We see this online data center as a new investment in our efforts. We can use this data to showcase North Central Massachusetts, answer queries about the region and support ongoing projects. Our members and other stakeholders can also utilize the data to better understand the region and support data- driven decisions.”

The online data center was funded by Chamber and its economic development arm, the North Central Massachusetts Development Corporation. Visit the data center here. For more information on the new Data Center, please contact the Chamber at 978.353.7600. ◊

Some examples of how the data can be utilized, include:

• Local businesses can access data to help them make evidence based decisions.

• Realtors can utilize the data to showcase the affordability and quality of life of communities within the region.

• Site selectors can utilize the data when researching North Central Massachusetts for business expansion opportunities.

• Local non-profits can use the data to write more compelling grant proposals.

• Students and job seekers can review data to discover what industries are available and growing in the region.

• Media can utilize the data for research on stories about the region.

• Municipalities and economic development partners can use the data as a resource to stay up-to-date on economic trends and opportunities in target industries.

This article is from the latest Chamber Report.

Tourism Update | Fall 2019 Wrap-up

Fall is notably North Central Massachusetts’ biggest season, and when you live, work and play in the region coined “Johnny Appleseed Country,” who can argue with that? Visit North Central Massachusetts was hard at work all autumn long, showcasing the region’s finest to visitors and groups near and far.

We promoted visitation to North Central Massachusetts through a diverse mix of digital and print advertising in target markets. Web traffic to VisitNorthCentral. com was up 18% over the previous year. New Fall themed blog content on the website included “Apples, Apples Everywhere!,” “Halloween Happenings,” and “Ribbons of Color”. Our Facebook following grew by 86% over the Fall season, primarily due to our strategy of utilizing a combination of Facebook ads, compelling content and video. Three new Taste of North Central videos premiered on our social media channels showcasing local attractions and businesses – The Kitchen Garden of Templeton; Sholan Farms of Leominster; and Slattery’s Restaurant of Fitchburg. Our Taste of North Central series can be viewed anytime by visiting our Facebook page. Hotel occupancy for October was down 3.7% in the region from the same time last year. It was down 5.7% for the state during the same time period. Year to date, occupancy is up about 1.8% compared to the previous year and down 2.4% for the state. Revenue per available room (RevPar) decreased by 6.8% to $96.96, while up 2.2% or $106.21 for the year to date. Our Fall edition of our popular Guide to North Central Massachusetts was well received and sold out shortly after hitting the newsstands. It is distributed locally at key locations, as well as in Boston and throughout New England and as far away as Canada.

From August to October, our Johnny Appleseed Visitor Center – located at Rt. 2 in Lancaster – served 51,108 walk in visitors and hosted 16 group tour buses. Information reported from visitors indicates that they came from throughout New England and as far away as Canada; the Netherlands; and the United Kingdom. Domestic travelers included visitors from as far away as Alaska; Utah; Oklahoma; Illinois; and Hawaii to name just a few states. An estimated 3,100 polished apples were given out to the traveling public and 1,835 Cider donuts were purchased there during the same period.

Our annual Appleseed Country Fair had a record year, hosting its best attendance since its start eight years ago. Families from throughout Massachusetts and New England travelled to North Central Massachusetts for the full experience of family-friendly fall fun. Visit North Central Massachusetts was also proud to partner with the Phillipston and Athol Firefighter Associations on the event and raised over $8,000 to support first responders.

Visit North Central Massachusetts also proudly showcased the region to thousands of attendees over the course of three fall festivals at Wachusett Mountain Ski Area – including Kidsfest, Applefest and Oktoberfest. Families were able to scoop up the latest edition of our Guide to North Central Massachusetts.

In partnership with the Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism, Visit North Central Massachusetts also showcased the region to hundreds of thousands of out of state attendees that visited the “Big E” Fair in West Springfield.

With Fall behind us, we now shift gears to promoting awareness and visitation to North Central Massachusetts during the Winter season, We are currently seeking partners for upcoming co-op opportunities. Please contact David Ginisi, Marketing and Communications Manager if you
are interested and would like additional information. ◊

This article is from the latest edition of the Chamber Report.