We recently met in Washington, DC with leaders from the national Business Roundtable and more than a dozen state roundtables across the country. We addressed top issues impacting businesses including talent recruitment/retention, cyber security, trade, as well as efforts in many states to enact new and costly mandates on employers.
Thank you to our partners at the BRT for their continued leadership to make the U.S. more competitive in the global economy. It is no surprise that states are tackling many of the same issues that directly impact the strength of our local economies. I also want to thank former Massachusetts resident and current Director of the Center for Labor Market Studies at Drexel University Paul Harrington and leaders from Deloitte for terrific presentations on unemployment insurance and other workforce analytics.
MBTA Chief Administrator Brian Shortsleeve highlighted strategies to control operating expenses, increase non-fare revenue and invest “pay-go” capital to improve services at the T during a far-reaching transportation conversation with Roundtable business leaders this month. MBR Transportation Task Force Chairman Jay Doherty, CEO of Cabot, Cabot & Forbes, convened the detailed discussion of work to resolve the MBTA’s structural deficit, make critical investments to strengthen the core system and improve reliability.
Through MBR’s Transportation Task Force and in collaboration with other business groups, the Roundtable has advocated for major reforms in transportation including the creation of the Fiscal Management Control Board overseeing the MBTA. Mr. Shortsleeve highlighted the important work of the control board to help achieve savings in the T’s operating budget and management improvements resulting in reduced absenteeism, reduced overtime expenses, fewer dropped trips and savings on goods and services purchased by the T. He outlined plans to review the T’s debt service, while increasing non-fare revenues from advertising, parking and real estate.
One major takeaway from the discussion is the MBTA’s on-going need for an infusion of talent to help provide the bandwidth the agency needs to implement the reforms adopted by the Legislature including properly maintaining the system, replacing decade’s old equipment and technology, as well as privatizing certain services that can be more efficiently managed by private vendors.
Governor Baker and Secretary of Labor and Workforce Development Ronald Walker this month announced $2 million in grants from the Workforce Competitiveness Trust Fund, which was recapitalized by the Legislature through strong advocacy by the Roundtable and the Workforce Solutions Group.
The competitive grant funding is managed by Commonwealth Corporation, which provided support to 14 regional partnerships across the state in this latest funding round. The grants will prepare hundreds of unemployed Massachusetts residents with skills and job training for in-demand occupations. One partnership—the Careers in Banking & Finance program managed by the Asian American Civic Association—will improve the talent pipeline in financial services, a leading sector of the Massachusetts economy. Roundtable members serving as employer partners for this project include Eastern Bank, People’s United Bank, State Street, Citizens Bank and Santander.
“The key to the success of Workforce Competitiveness Trust Fund is active involvement between local businesses, community-based organizations, education and workforce development professionals,” said Governor Charlie Baker in the media announcement.
Working with Roundtable member companies and in close coordination with AIM, the Mass High Tech Council, Greater Boston Chamber and other business groups, MBR continues to monitor and provide detailed input on legislation emerging from the Joint Committee on Labor & Workforce Development governing non-competition agreements and trade secrets. The Roundtable supports employers continuing to have the option to use non-competition agreements to protect innovation, intellectual property and customer goodwill and will continue to work with all parties involved to ensure these remain priorities.
READ Legislation | READ Summary
MBR joined the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, as well as several other business groups signing a letter in support of S.1468, a bill to create a state tax deduction for contributions made to 529 college savings plans including the Massachusetts UFund and UPlan. Thirty-four other states have a similar deduction, which provides an incentive for families to save for college.
The bill received a unanimous favorable report from the Revenue Committee. This advocacy fits within MBR’s member-driven education and workforce development policy priority for 2016.
Governor Baker announced that Roundtable members MITRE, MassDevelopment and others will participate in the Massachusetts Innovation Bridge, a new partnership that will connect the state’s leading innovators to federal agencies to address some of the nation’s most difficult challenges. From the press release launching the Innovation Bridge:
“Through the Innovation Bridge, federal agencies will create new relationships with innovative academic institutions, thought leaders, established companies, and with companies that previously did not work with the federal government. Together, they will discover innovative ideas, products, and services to enhance federal agency missions. The new collaborative workspace will also give Massachusetts companies, higher education institutions, and nonprofits access to new federal business opportunities.”
“We’re excited to partner with the Commonwealth to bring the Innovation Bridge to life and provide a unique venue to bridge between federal agencies and the vibrant Boston innovation ecosystem,” said Roundtable member Peter Sherlock, MITRE senior vice president. “Our public interest mission, conflict-free charter, technical skills and labs enable us to work on behalf of our federal sponsors to harness the region’s strengths and address the nation’s hardest challenges.”
“The Innovation Bridge provides direct access for federal agencies to the nation’s leading innovation ecosystem, and vice versa,” said Roundtable member Marty Jones, President of MassDevelopment. “We look forward to working with MITRE, military installations, and other government, business, university and federal lab organizations such as the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative and MIT’s Lincoln Labs to build new relationships and expand opportunities for the Commonwealth’s established and entrepreneurial economic drivers.” READ more.
Congratulations to our longtime Roundtable member from Bentley University Patricia Flynn, who was honored with the Distinguished Woman Leader in Business Education Award by the Women Administrators in Education. From the blog post about the award, “Pat was one of the first women to be named to a business school deanship and the champion of growing and developing a network of women administrators that now thrives via AACSB’s WAME Affinity Group.” READ more.
The Massachusetts Department of Revenue is administering a Tax Amnesty program that ends May 31st, which is designed to help individuals and businesses catch up on back taxes and save on penalties. This program will allow you to:
- File delinquent returns or amend prior tax filings.
- Pay only the tax and interest you owe. Tax penalties and any interest due on those penalties will be waived.
- Benefit from a three-year limited lookback period on unfiled returns.
For more information, please visit DOR’s online resources: mass.gov/TaxAmnesty and mass.gov/dor/businesses/filing-and-reporting/
Does your company have news about industry trends, key milestones or other materials you are sharing with the public? We want to include news from our members in this space, so please send any story ideas or links to MBR Deputy Director Chris Kealey.
Thx @jennyj33 @ComcastNewsmkrs for good conversation on talent, transportation, making MA a great place for business
Congratulations to Roundtable member @bentleyu Patricia Flynn on Distinguished Woman Leader in Biz Education Award
Roundtable biz leaders discussing strategies to control costs, improve services & increase efficiency at @MBTA with @BrianShortsleev #mabiz
What's in a name: Introducing Dell Technologies emc.im/6010BWM1s
@MassRevenue 2016 Tax Amnesty program ends May 31st. More information at mass.gov/TaxAmnesty #mabiz
Strengthening state's #talent pipeline is a top priority for MBR @CommCorp_MA @WSG_40 @MassLWD @MassGovernor
How did we create the new "patient-user experience" online? We took a page out of the retail book.@acquia @Hatch_130
Congratulations to a terrific employer and Roundtable member @BerkshireBank!
We are honored to have been recognized by the @BBB_CNE with the Western Mass Award for Marketplace Excellence!
Roundtable members are making Massachusetts a better place to live, work and grow a business every day. #mabiz
From the #Berkshires to the #Cape, each region of MA has something to offer the state's business ecosystem #mabiz