Mill No. 3 Oils and Vinegars Now Being Sold at the Johnny Appleseed Visitors’ Center

For decades, Mill No. 3 Farmstand in Fitchburg, MA has been serving locals from all over North Central Massachusetts. Originally starting as a farm stand in 1996, the   business has grown to include a deli, beer & wine, groceries, flowers, coffee, pastries and the list goes on. Recently, Mill No. 3 has started to offer 50 varieties of Olive Oils & Vinegar- we’re excited to announce that Mill No. 3 oils and vinegars are now being sold at the Johnny Appleseed Visitors’ Center.

The Johnny Appleseed Visitor Center features a popular gift shop that carries many local products including jams, jellies, honey, maple syrup, fudge, chocolates, sparkling cider, donuts and that local icon of American kitsch – the pink plastic flamingo!  Visitors to the center can also find a wide selection of books highlighting the history of the region, plus good-quality logo merchandise and souvenir items.  

The Johnny Appleseed Visitors Center, considered by many the gateway to North Central Massachusetts, opened in 1996 as a way to welcome people traveling through the region and give them a place to stop, stretch their legs, and learn more about the twenty-seven communities in North Central Massachusetts and what they have to offer for visitors and families.  Over 165,000 people walk through the visitor center doors every year. 

The Johnny Appleseed Visitors Center is located at 1000 Rte. 2 Westbound, between exit 34 & 35, in Lancaster, MA.  It is open 361 days a year.  Normal business hours are 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.  Members with locally produced products that are interested in having them offered at the center should contact Diane Burnette, Visitor Center Manager, at 978.534.230

Smith’s Country Cheese Available at the Johnny Appleseed Visitors Center

Locally produced and award winning cheeses from Smith’s Country Cheese are now available for purchase at the Johnny Appleseed Visitors Center located on Route 2 in Lancaster.  Smith’s Country Cheese, located in Winchendon, has been a family-owned-and-operated, working dairy farm and creamery for over thirty years. Smith’s uses old-fashioned family traditions and hard work to produce their award-winning farmstead Gouda, cheddar, and Havarti cheeses. They use traditional recipes and fresh, raw milk from their farm to make delicious, artisanal cheeses.

The Johnny Appleseed Visitor Center features a popular gift shop that carries many local products including jams, jellies, honey, maple syrup, fudge, chocolates, sparkling cider, donuts and that local icon of American kitsch – the pink plastic flamingo!  Visitors to the center can also find a wide selection of books highlighting the history of the region, plus good-quality logo merchandise and souvenir items.  

The Johnny Appleseed Visitors Center, considered by many the gateway to North Central Massachusetts, opened in 1996 as a way to welcome people traveling through the region and give them a place to stop, stretch their legs, and learn more about the twenty-seven communities in North Central Massachusetts and what they have to offer for visitors and families.  Over 165,000 people walk through the visitor center doors every year. 

The Johnny Appleseed Visitors Center is located at 1000 Rte. 2 Westbound, between exit 34 & 35, in Lancaster, MA.  It is open 361 days a year.  Normal business hours are 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.  Members with locally produced products that are interested in having them offered at the center should contact Diane Burnette, Visitor Center Manager, at 978.534.230

Paid Family Medical Leave Information

On October 1, 2019, collection of the payroll tax associated with the state’s new Paid Family and Medical Leave Program went into effect. All employees and employers are impacted by this tax, unless they have instituted a comparable and state approved private plan in the program’s place. Below is some further information regarding your rights and obligations as an employer under this program.

Links:

Click Here for Worker Facts

Click Here for Employer Facts

Videos:

Employer Responsibilities for PFML

PFML Information for Workers

Keneally Meets w/ Chamber Leaders

The Chamber closed out the summer by meeting with the state’s new Secretary of Housing and Economic Development on August 22. Taking the reins from Jay Ash earlier in the year, Secretary Michael Kennealy serves as the Commonwealth’s chief economic development officer. In this capacity, he oversees the Massachusetts Offices of Business Development; Travel and Tourism; and International Trade and Investment – to name just a few. As the region’s leading business and economic development organization, the Chamber convened the meeting to engage the new Secretary and highlight economic development priorities in North Central Massachusetts. A range of topics were discussed, including streamlined permitting, tourism promotion, workforce development, manufacturing, housing and the impact the state’s business assistance programs deliver.

“We value the partnerships that we have with Secretary Kennealy’s office and look forward to working collectively with him and his team in the future to grow the economy here in North Central Massachusetts.” said Roy Nascimento, President & CEO of the North Central Massachusetts Chamebr of Commerce. “This was a great opportunity to brief the new Secretary on the opportunities and challenges here in our dynamic region of the state.”

The Chamber and its affiliates have long maintained a strong relationship with the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development. As the new Secretary moves ahead with efforts to expand the Commonwealth’s housing options and publish a new five year economic development plan, the Chamber will be sure to provide any assistance it can while advocating for the needs of local employers.

The Chamber wishes to thank Chamber member AIS, Inc. for hosting the meeting at their headquarters in Leominster.

Fall Guide to North Central Massachusetts Out Now!

Get the inside scoop on all things fall season in North Central Massachusetts – from the best time to harvest apples to a craft beer trail! Find the latest edition at the Johnny Appleseed Center or any other local venue and attraction in North Central Massachusetts! For more information on the Guide To North Central Massachusetts, how to advertise, or how to get one delivered to you, please contact Diane Burnette | DBurnette@ northcentralmass.com ◊

View the latest edition here!

Sales Tax Holiday to be Observed This Weekend- Meals and Drinks Excluded

This weekend will mark the inauguration of what is now a legislatively mandated annual tradition- the Sales Tax Holiday. Unsurprisingly however, the rollout of this law has not been without issue. The State House caused confusion when it initially included restaurant meals in the upcoming tax holiday. After learning of concerns from restaurant owners themselves however, the Governor has amended the statute to exclude that industry.

Though held in the past, the state’s Governor was never required to designate a tax holiday weekend until passage of the Grand Bargain last year. In an expansive compromise with labor groups, that legislation mandated that an August weekend would be selected to serve that purpose annually. As reported by State House News Service, the Grand Bargain’s language made no distinction between retailers and restauranteurs, leading legislators to interpret it as applying to both. Restaurant owners objected however, explaining their point of sale systems did not enable them to separate taxes for alcohol- which was never included in the tax holiday- from meals. For that reason, Baker filed legislative amendments excluding meals from the Holiday, which the House and Senate immediately approved.

To ensure these revisions are understood and acted upon by business owners, the Commonwealth’s Department of Revenue has issued an updated Technical Information Release (TIR 19-10: Sales of Meals Excluded from the Annual Sales Tax Holiday Weekend) and a new list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs). This year, the weekend will run from Saturday, August 17th, through Sunday, August 18th. During that time, no sales tax should be applied to purchases that are for personal, non-business, use and do not include individual items priced above $2,500.

It should be noted that, beyond meals, drinks, and individual items priced over $2,500; there are some ineligible acquisitions, for which sales tax must still be applied. These include the purchase of:

  • items on layaway
  • telecommunications services
  • tobacco products
  • marijuana and marijuana products
  • gas
  • steam
  • electricity
  • motor vehicles- including motorboats

If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact Christopher McDermott, the Chamber’s public affairs manager, at (978) 353-7600, ext. 224; or via email at cmcdermott@northcentralmass.com.

Chamber Selected for National Education & Workforce Program

The Chamber is one of 35 state and local chambers chosen to take part in a prestigious national program aimed at addressing critical education and workforce issues. Sponsored by the U.S. Chamber Foundation, the Business Leads Fellowship Program trains and equips participants with resources, national expertise and a network of peers to build their capacity to address the most pressing education and workforce challenges.

“Businesses in North Central Massachusetts are struggling with the same challenges their peers are throughout the country.” says Christopher McDermott, Public Affairs Manager of the Chamber, who is participating in the third cohort of the program on behalf of North Central Massachusetts. “This is a great opportunity for the Chamber to actively contribute to the national conversation while learning best practices from our counterparts in other states that can help us make an impact locally.”

The Chamber was chosen through a competitive selection process. The four-month fellowship will cover the entire talent pipeline, including early childhood education, K-12, higher education and workforce development.

The objectives of this program align with the Chamber’s efforts around improving the workforce, which are most recently exemplified by the publication of our recent report Build North Central: Improving the Industrial Heart of Massachusetts. ◊

This story is from the latest Chamber Report

Chamber Regional Economic Study

The Chamber and its economic development arm, the North Central Massachusetts Development Corporation, have commissioned the UMass Donahue Institute to develop a robust data driven economic profile of the region. This economic profile is intended to provide focused data and research for North Central Massachusetts that will be used to support our economic development goals. We anticipate that the data will be used to showcase the region, answer queries about the region, support ongoing projects and help make evidence based decisions.

The customized profile is expected to combine detailed economic, labor market and socioeconomic data, as well as provide analysis on the economic conditions within the region. The project is expected to be completed by October, 2019. ◊

This update is from the latest Chamber Report

Update on Recent Legislation Expanding Room Occupancy Excise

CHANGES TO ROOM OCCUPANCY EXCISE 
The new law expands the room occupancy excise to include short-term rentals. Aside from taxing short-term rentals, there are some aspects of the law that impact traditional lodging establishments already charging room occupancy excise, like bed and breakfast establishments, hotels, lodging houses and motels.

The following lists are meant only to highlight a few of the changes for short-term rentals and traditional lodging accommodations. We recommend reviewing the frequently asked questions and the technical information release (TIR), on the Department of Revenue website, for detailed information on the new law.

Impact on short-term rentals

  • Rent from short-term rentals will now be subject to room occupancy excise for any agreements made on January 1, 2019 or after for occupancies beginning July 1, 2019 or after.
  • “Rent” includes, insurance, linen fees, cleaning fees and booking fees.
  • A short-term rental is an occupied property where at least one room or unit is rented using advance reservations – this might include an apartment, house, cottage or condominium.
  • Operators of short-term rentals must register with MassTaxConnect on or after July 1, 2019 when registration will be available.
  • Operators who rent more than 14 days in a year must collect the excise.
  • An exemption is made for single occupancies of more than 31 consecutive days.
  • Intermediaries who collect rent on behalf of short-term rental operators are required to collect all excises and fees and remit to the Department of Revenue.

There are other important aspects of the room occupancy excise worth noting as described in the frequently asked questions and TIR.

Impact on traditional lodging accommodations

  • There is an expansion of “occupancy” to include any and all furnishings, services, accommodations, like breakfast at a B&B, whether the occupant chooses to avail themselves of the services or not.
  • There is an expansion of “rent” to include insurance, linen fees, cleaning fees and booking fees.
  • Intermediaries who collect rent on behalf of the operator of the lodging establishment will be required to collect and remit tax to the Department of Revenue.

The effective date for those currently collecting room occupancy excises (and new establishments) to begin collecting the room occupancy excise, based on the new definitions of rent and occupancy, is July 1, 2019. This would include any applicable local excises. Any price quotes, or collection of rents for occupancies after July 1, 2019 should include the excise.

More Information
Stay tuned, whether you are in the short-term rental or traditional lodging accommodations industries, for more information about tax reporting under the new law. Registration for short-term rental operators or intermediaries will be available through MassTaxConnect as of July 1, 2019. We will also continue to update the guidance on our website with any changes that take place.

After reviewing the frequently asked questions and technical information release, please contact the Trustee Tax Contact Center at 617-887-6367 (choose #4 for both prompts) with any additional questions.