Sample Letter to Legislator: Minimum Wage

Dear [LEGISLATOR],

As a small business owner and job creator in your district, I urge you to provide cost relief for struggling small businesses.

My business already faces double-digit health care premium increases, highest-in-the-nation energy expenses, and a newly increased EMAC tax. Should this year’s ballot initiatives pass, I would also have to contend with the impact of a $15 minimum wage indexed to inflation, a one-size-fits-all paid family and medical leave mandate, and an income tax surcharge on pass-through businesses.

Massachusetts is one of only eleven states without a teen or training wage. Small businesses have historically served as the first job for young workers, providing an introduction to the workforce. As the cost of hiring workers increase, it grows more difficult to justify employing teenagers and students who lack entry level skills and require extensive training. Without a teen or training wage, these individuals will be continuously crowded out of the workforce.

Increasing the tipped wage to $9/hour will mean Massachusetts servers will experience the same loss of income that Maine restaurant workers experienced. The Maine legislature was forced to override the actions of a misguided state ballot question at the request of restaurant servers due to reduced take-home pay following a minimum wage increase. Massachusetts legislators may be faced with an equally uncomfortable predicament, should this initiative pass.

Massachusetts will be only one of two states with a paid family and medical leave benefit requiring an employer contribution. The other state mandated leave programs are all employee paid and often include a small business carve-out and opt-outs for businesses with an existing program. The current proposal for paid family and medical leave is estimated to be a $1 billion tax on both employers and their workers. This would be the most expensive paid family and medical leave benefit in the nation!

These new mandates will surely factor into future hiring decisions for my business and will limit my ability to increase the number of workers I employ. Therefore, as a small business owner, I ask that you recognize the extreme financial pressures being faced by job creators and understand the sacrifices we are already making to keep residents of the Commonwealth employed. Main Street businesses seek balanced relief, so we can do what small businesses do best: Create jobs and grow local economies.

Sincerely,

Local seniors celebrated at Chamber’s Annual Scholarship Breakfast

The next edition of the North Central Massachusetts Chamber’s popular Good Morning North Central breakfast series is scheduled for Friday, May 11, 2018 from 6:45 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. at the Doubletree by Hilton, 99 Erdman Way, Leominster, MA.  The May edition is sponsored by UMass Memorial Healthcare HealthAlliance-Clinton Hospital, 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 May breakfast features the presentation of the Chamber Foundation’s annual scholarships and will highlight top scholars from throughout North Central Massachusetts.  The Chamber Foundation distributes approximately twenty five (25) $2,000 scholarships to local high-achieving high school students each year. Since the establishment of its scholarship program, the North Central Massachusetts Chamber Foundation has awarded over a million dollars in scholarships.

Many of these awards are made possible through contributions from members of the North Central Massachusetts Chamber of Commerce and proceeds from the Chamber’s Annual Scholarship Golf Tournament. Scholarships endowed through the Foundation are often named in honor of prominent members of the North Central Massachusetts business community.

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.

The cost is just $25 for Chamber members/$40 non-members and includes a breakfast buffet. Season Tickets are also available for purchase.  Pre-registration is required. For more information or to register, please contact the Chamber at 978.353.7600 ext. 235 or visit www.northcentralmass.com.

North Central Development Corporation Publishes Manufacturers Directory

Expansive guide highlights the region’s vast manufacturing firms and industrial space

The North Central Massachusetts Chamber of Commerce and the North Central Massachusetts Development Corporation (NCMDC) announce the publication of the 2018 edition of the Manufacturers Directory and Industrial Parks Guide for North Central Massachusetts. The publication 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.

Working with multiple sources, the NCMDC confirmed the operating status and primary product line of each company listed in the directory. In addition to the listing of local manufacturers, the publication also includes a section on life science companies, a listing of suppliers and a guide to business and industrial parks in North Central Massachusetts.

“We published this directory to help support our local manufacturers who are so critical to the long term vitality of the North Central economy”, said Roy Nascimento, President & CEO of the North Central Massachusetts Chamber of Commerce and the North Central Massachusetts Development Corporation. “We hope that this publication will be a resource in connecting manufacturers with their peers and helping them find local suppliers.”

This publication is part of the Chamber and Development Corporation’s continuing efforts to help promote the region and advance the economy of North Central Massachusetts.  In addition to this manufacturing directory, the North Central Massachusetts Development Corporation has expanded its efforts to raise awareness of career paths in the advanced manufacturing field and was recently approved as a Community Advantage Lender through the U.S. Small Business Administration.  It has also grown its technical assistance offerings for new and established small businesses in the region and expanded its reach to small and growing businesses in neighboring communities through partnerships with local chambers. Partnerships have been created with the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce, the Assabet Valley Chamber of Commerce, the Greater Gardner Chamber of Commerce and the North Quabbin Chamber of Commerce. Last year, the North Central Massachusetts Development Corporation also launched the new website ChooseNorthCentral.com and the hashtag #ChooseNorthCentral to promote North Central Massachusetts as a great place to grow or relocate a business

The 2018 edition of the publication was supported by advertising and is being circulated to manufacturers throughout the region. For more information, please contact the North Central Massachusetts Chamber of Commerce at 978.353.7607.

The North Central Massachusetts Development Corporation (NCMDC) is a non-profit corporation with the mission of creating jobs and improving the economy of North Central Massachusetts.  The NCMDC acts as a connector, facilitator and partner and works in partnership with local banks, credit unions, chambers of commerce and area nonprofits to support emerging microenterprises, small businesses, and community projects with loans and business assistance.  The NCMDC is certified by the U.S. Department of the Treasury under the Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) program and is a micro-loan intermediary for the U.S. Small Business Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.  Since 1996, the NCMDC has granted over $6 million in loans to small businesses to help grow jobs and the economy.

For more information about the North Central Massachusetts Development Corporation please call 978.353.7607 or visit www.choosenorthcentral.com or www.northcentralmass.com.

Chamber Endorses Coalition to Protect Patient Safety

In November, Massachusetts voters may be asked to consider whether our state should have government-mandated nurse staffing levels. This proposed law would require every hospital to adopt the same rigid, one-size-fits-all ratios of nurses on duty to patients at all times, in every unit, regardless of a hospital’s size, location or the needs of individual patients.

Sound like a good idea?  Not so fast.

This misguided and dangerous proposal would take vital decision-making away from nurses at the bedside, where experience and education save lives and put them in the hands of an unworkable and unfunded government mandate.  That’s why the North Central Massachusetts Chamber of Commerce has joined with dozens of other organizations across the state, including the Organization of Nurse Leaders, the American Nurses Association Massachusetts and the Massachusetts Association of Colleges of Nursing in strong opposition to these ratios.

Click HERE to hear directly from nurses themselves about why they oppose rigid staffing ratios.

Massachusetts is home to some of the best hospitals in the country. People come from all over the world to receive high quality care from our healthcare professionals. It makes no sense to override the professional judgment of nurses and doctors charged with managing caregiver teams.

And it’s no secret that Massachusetts families and businesses are already facing soaring healthcare bills.  Studies conservatively estimate the cost of implementing the ballot question would be well over $800 million annually, without any valid scientific evidence of improved care as a result of these ratios.

Aside from threatening hospitals’ financial stability, this proposal would drive up costs for patients and businesses, cause emergency room wait times to skyrocket and lead to closures of community hospitals. Even those that can stay open would have to make painful cuts in critical treatment areas and vital community health programs, including resources to battle the opioid crisis.

This proposal is bad for hospitals, bad for our community and bad for families. If you want to help out, please take two minutes and click HERE to send your elected officials a quick email sharing your opposition to this bad idea. Signing on as an individual supporter is easy, too!

For more information on the devastating impacts of rigid ratios, please click here.

Your voice will be crucial in opposing this dangerous, unnecessary ballot question. Thank you for your support.

Member Spotlight:Complete Physical Therapy & Wellness.

In each newsletter we highlight a Chamber member doing interesting work in our community.  This month we highlight Complete Physical Therapy & Wellness.

With their new location on 960 South Street in Fitchburg, MA, we are certainly proud to not only support Complete Physical Therapy & Wellness as a chamber member, but also as a fellow neighbor.

Complete Physical Therapy & Wellness is a privately owned physical therapy and wellness clinic. They are unique in that they combine the diverse experience and specialties of five longtime colleagues to service communities throughout Central Massachusetts.

Physical therapists Theresa Brassard, Joanne D’Onfro, Jennifer LeBlanc, Tamara Moses and Alice Thompson have unified their skills and passion to provide superior patient care in a customized, fully equipped facility. Their clinical excellence and expertise, combined with an unwavering commitment to prompt, personalized care, will make Complete Physical Therapy & Wellness a premier choice for all your physical therapy needs.

Complete Physical Therapy & Wellness specializes in the following areas: orthopedics, post joint replacements, sports injuries and prevention,

women’s health (pregnancy & incontinence), spine disorders, pediatrics, scoliosis, balance training & Pilates rehabilitation.

We are excited to celebrate the grand opening of Complete Physical Therapy & Wellness in the coming month. To contact them, visit www.completept.org.

Last Chance to Advertise in the Manufacturers Directory

Don’t get left out! The North Central Massachusetts Development Corporation is getting ready to publish the 2018 edition of the Manufacturers Directory and Industrial Parks Guide for North Central Massachusetts. A limited number of advertising spots are still available.

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 contact David Ginisi at 978.353.7600 ext. 240 for more information or to reserve your advertisement.

GOVERNMENT AFFAIRS UPDATE

The North Central Massachusetts Chamber of Commerce takes an active advocacy role with government on behalf of our member businesses, focused on issues that impact business, and the economy of North Central Massachusetts.  As part of our government relations efforts, we actively work to engage with policy makers.  Below is an update on some of the more recent government relations activities at the local, regional, state and federal level.  

FEDERAL:

The Chamber has started to engage with the candidates for the 3rd  Congressional District currently represented by Congresswoman Tsongas. To date, we have met with candidates Dan Koh and Rick Green to discuss North Central Massachusetts and the priorities of the business community in the region. We also have a meeting scheduled for later this month with State Senator Barbara L’Italian and will be reaching out to the other remaining candidates to schedule meetings over the next few months.

Back in the fall we hosted the economic development advisor and the district director for Congresswoman Tsongas for an economic development tour of the region and highlighted some of the projects the Chamber has supported. Chamber staff also participated in a travel and tourism tour of the 2nd Congressional District hosted by Congressman McGovern.

STATE:

Prior to the special election, the Chamber staff met with all of the candidates for the Worcester & Middlesex District Senate seat formerly held by Jen Flanagan.

In the fall, we organized a special manufacturing tour for legislative leaders to highlight the importance of manufacturing to North Central Massachusetts as well as legislative efforts to eliminate the inventory tax for manufacturers in order to boost the industry.  Attendees on the tour included legislators, economic development officials, business leaders and members of the media.

Earlier this month, we hosted our annual Legislative Briefing to present our economic development priorities to our legislative delegation, and engage them on efforts to shepherd those priorities through the state budget.  Over the last year, we have seen more engagement with our legislative delegation, due to concerted efforts to raise the Chamber’s government relations.

 

 

LOCAL:

In the fall, the Chamber staff met with many of the candidates for city council in Leominster and Fitchburg to engage them on priorities of the business community. Post-election, the Chamber continued its proactive outreach to newly elected public officials engaging them on the
Chamber’s regional priorities.

The Chamber also testified at the annual Fitchburg Property Tax Classification Hearing. The Fitchburg City Council voted in favor of reducing the burden on businesses, moving toward a single tax rate.  The Leominster City Council voted to maintain their single tax rate.

In January, we testified at a Fitchburg hearing regarding the renovations to the old City Hall building and we also testified at the Finance Sub-Committee of the Gardner City Council on the issue of tourism funding.

This month, the Chamber also hosted a briefing for the four new city councilors in Fitchburg with several local developers and business leaders to discuss priorities such as tax classification, tourism funding and streamlined permitting.

For more information, please contact Christopher McDermott, Public Affairs Manager at 978.353.7600 ext. 224 or email cmcdermott@northcentralmass.com.

Chamber offers new experiential networking program

In September 2018, the North Central Massachusetts Chamber introduced an additional networking program for members called Experience North Central. This addition styled like a Business After Hours  offers attendees yet another social networking opportunity with the inclusion of an experience at one of our many gems within the community.

The first Experience North Central featured a cider donut and fudge making lesson at the nationally renowned Red Apple Farm in Phillipston, a 100 year old destination for all things fall. In October, we featured local beer manufacturer, Moon Hill Brewing, in celebration of Manufacturing Month. Both were said to be “the best networking experience ever” by several attendees.

If you’re sick of the same old networking and also looking to learn behind the scenes secrets of local businesses, then Experience North Central is for you! Our next event will be held in January 2018. Have an idea for an Experience? Contact Events & Programs Manager, Maria McCaffrey, at 978.353.7600 ext. 235 or mmccaffrey@northcentralmass.com

Addiction and the Economy:  The Hidden Link 

The preventable loss of life from addiction is a tragedy which destroys families and devastates communities. But often absent from the conversation about addiction is the fact that it is also inflicting harm on the American economy, on a scale not seen in any previous drug crisis.  A 2011 study,  published in the journal Pain Medicine, estimated that health-care costs related to prescription opioid abuse amounted to $25 billion dollars, and criminal-justice-system costs totaled $5.1 billion. But the largest financial cost was to the workplace, which accounted for $25.6 billion, in the form of lost earnings and employment. Howard Birnbaum, a health-care economist and one of the authors of the study, explains, “There are major consequences to the economy…If people don’t have jobs, they don’t have money to spend in the grocery store, or on gasoline.”

And evidence supporting the link between addiction and the economy is growing. In July of 2017, economists from Goldman Sachs Group Inc., reported that America’s opioid epidemic is sidelining people in their prime working years and contributing to the stubbornly low rate of men and women who are either employed or looking for jobs. In September of 2017, Princeton economist Alan Krueger, noted a definitive link between addiction and the reduced labor force: Where Have All the Workers Gone? An Inquiry into the Decline of the U.S. Labor Force Participation Rate

The human, social and economic costs of this national crisis can certainly feel overwhelming.  However, here in North Central Massachusetts we have reason to be hopeful as our region is uniquely poised to face this challenge head-on. In February of 2017, the City of Fitchburg applied to be a Pilot Community with Facing Addiction, Inc. The application was submitted by the Joint Coalition on Health after requesting and receiving the full support of Fitchburg leadership including Mayor DiNatale, Chief Martineau and Board of Health Director, Stephen Curry.

Facing Addiction Inc. received more than 50 applications from communities across the country. In March of 2017, it was announced that Fitchburg, MA was selected as one of 15 communities to participate in the organization’s pilot community project.

 

The Pilot Project, Facing Addiction In Fitchburg And Beyond, is seeking support and participation from all sectors including our region’s vibrant business community.

Ways to take action now:

  • Support our work: We are an entirely grassroots initiative. If you are interested in becoming a benefactor of this important work, please contact us at JointCoalitionOnHealth@gmail.com.
  • Consider participating in in our research project: On October 16, 2017, we are launching LUV: Listening to Unheard Voices. Working in partnership with UMass Medical School, Community Health Connections and others, the project will conduct interviews and focus groups throughout North Central MA.  The Project is particularly interested in talking with people who have been directly impacted by addiction. All interviews are completely confidential. Information gathered will be shared with community leaders to inform them about what is being experienced on the frontlines. For more information, please contact us at JointCoalitionOnHealth@gmail.com.
  • Visit us at Facing Addiction In Fitchburg And Beyond
  • Join our mailing list by contacting us at FacingAddictionFAB@gmail.com

 

 “Addiction is a health issue that must be treated as such. It is a preventable illness, and recovery is a reality for over 23 million Americans. But with 22 million still suffering, it is past time to take new and innovative approaches to solving this public health crisis.” – Michael King

If you or a loved one is in need of treatment for a drug or alcohol addiction in MA, call 1-800-327-5050. The Helpline is the only statewide, public resource for finding substance use treatment and recovery services. Helplines services are free and confidential.

  • Susan Buchholz, Volunteer Chair and Coordinator of the Joint Coalition On Health & Volunteer Director of Facing Addiction In Fitchburg And Beyond.

Season Tickets now available

Each year, the NCMCC offers the convenience of season tickets for two of our most popular programs: the Good Morning North Central executive breakfast and Human Resources Council lunch series. Many who attend these programs, often attend the full program year and thus, deserve a token of our appreciation for their program loyalty!

Season ticket holders are offered convenience and a discount on programming by purchasing the entire year up front. At a 20% discount and automatic registration for each event, season tickets are an economical and efficient purchase for business leaders in the community. Season Tickets can also be transferred to another employee within your business if you are not able to attend one of the events.

The Good Morning North Central executive breakfast series is $100 for five events while the Human Resource Council is $150 for nine events (individual event pricing is $125 and $180, respectively).

Season Tickets can be purchased directly through our online calendar at the discounted rate or by contacting Maria McCaffrey at mmccaffrey@northcentralmass.com or 978.353.7600 ext. 235.