As 2016 draws to a close, I want to thank our members across the state for the support and expertise that they contributed throughout the year. It was a very impactful year working with our partners in state government and the business community on issues important to our members and the long term economic vitality of the Massachusetts economy.
At the Roundtable, we recognize that the Massachusetts economy is a complex, delicate ecosystem. Public policy priorities must balance the needs of both employers and employees. We pledge to listen even more attentively, collaborate even more closely and work even harder to make this state a better place to live and work.
MassDOT CEO and Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack joined a roundtable discussion of business leaders at MBR’s year-end Board meeting hosted by JLL in Boston.
Secretary Pollack Pollack highlighted reliability, customer focus, capital planning and making strategic investments that improve the experience and quality of life for citizens across the state. She also said, “We’re in the economic development business,” emphasizing the need to “do the right projects, right” to both strengthen local economies and improve the quality of life for people whether they are moving goods and services or commuting to work and school. She noted that the MBTA is purchasing a new fleet of cars for the Red Line that will dramatically improve service and reliability in the years ahead. Secretary Pollack discussed the state of good repair of roads and bridges in various regions of the Commonwealth and detailed MassDOT’s five-year rolling capital plan. Members of the Roundtable asked questions about the potential impact of new federal infrastructure investments, organizational and management changes at the MBTA and MassDOT and how the business community can continue to support the critical work to improve the state’s transportation systems. Secretary Pollack said that the major reforms adopted through legislation are starting to take hold and deliver results; the team is focused on accelerating those results.
Transportation and talent are the top two issues on the minds of business leaders from a variety of industry sectors across the state. The Roundtable has long advocated for major reforms and critical investments in transportation infrastructure including roads, bridges, mass transit and other projects that enable workers, as well as goods and services to flow throughout Massachusetts. MBR continues to support major reforms at the MBTA and serves as a member of the Fix-Our-T Coalition of business and community based organizations. MBR’s member-driven principles urge that investment decisions be made to promote economic competitiveness and to improve both the perception and reality of Massachusetts as a place to do business. The Roundtable understands that different regions of the state have different needs and urges regional equity as a major principle guiding decision makers. MBR will convene its Transportation Task Force in January 2017 to update its advocacy strategies based on the expertise and input from its member companies.
Special thanks to Secretary Pollack, MBTA Chief Administrator Brian Shortsleeve and the MassDOT team for their continued outreach and dialogue with the business community to advance our shared goals and interests.
Many Roundtable members participated in a recent survey on public education and workforce readiness that revealed a large majority of Massachusetts employers (75%) are having trouble finding people to fill open positions and new hires are often not prepared for the workplace.
Respondents find deficiencies in the readiness of new hires, not just in “applied skills” like teamwork, critical thinking and communications, but also in simple reading, writing, and math. The survey found that business leaders understand the importance of education in addressing these workforce challenges and want the business community to get involved. Excellent teachers and developing students’ communication, problem solving and teamwork skills were identified as the top solutions on which business should focus its energy and attention.
Despite giving the schools relatively strong grades overall, three quarters think the schools need a major overhaul or moderate changes. Employers give the public schools lower marks for preparing students for work than for overall performance.
The survey, commissioned by the Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education (MBAE) with support from Associated Industries of Massachusetts (AIM) and the Massachusetts Business Roundtable, will be used to develop a set of education priorities for the business community to focus on in the months and years ahead. You can learn more about efforts to improve the workforce by improving education by visiting their websites.
Special thanks to Roundtable member Babson College for hosting the release of the survey findings at the Executive Conference Center on campus.
READ WBJ Story: Mass. employers having trouble finding qualified employees
The Roundtable’s major policy task forces are meeting this fall/winter to update MBR’s policy priorities and guiding principles to prepare for the upcoming 2017-18 legislative session. The principles will guide MBR’s advocacy with the Administration and the Legislature in areas including energy, education & workforce development, health care, transportation & infrastructure and competitiveness. While the first three task forces have met and are developing the principles, the transportation and competitiveness task forces will meet in early 2017.
Energy Task Force: Leaders from large and small companies, as well as representatives from renewable energy, natural gas, energy efficiency, utility companies and other experts convened to discuss the landmark energy bill passed last year and suggested updates to MBR’s policy principles and priorities for 2017. Members discussed implementation of the legislation with guest Undersecretary for Energy Ned Bartlett. MBR is committed to working with the Administration and Legislature to chart a cleaner, more reliable, cost effective energy future for the Commonwealth. Members reaffirmed support for the Roundtable’s goal to support public policy and regulatory efforts that provide reliable, sustainable, affordable energy resources for consumers and businesses enabling the state to meet the needs of a growing economy and the goals of the Global Warming Solutions Act, and address climate change, in the most cost-effective way possible. To achieve this goal, the Roundtable supports a balanced, competitive, regional approach that includes renewable energy sources, natural gas, efficiency programs, and innovative on-site distributed generation solutions.
Health Care Task Force: MBR’s Health Care Task Force convened a meeting that included major employers, health insurers, health providers, rare disease/pharma and other key stakeholders. The goal of the Health Care Task Force is to develop a set of principles and policy priorities to guide MBR’s advocacy. In a wide-ranging discussion, members highlighted a variety of key issues in health care and focused on several major themes including competition, innovation and transparency. There was also significant discussion about data analytics, data-driven decision making and equity for consumers of health care. Members also discussed the importance of emphasizing stability in the health care marketplace amid possible changes to the national Affordable Care Act. Members discussed the need for a smooth and stable transition that does not jeopardize access to coverage and care in the event of any changes at the federal level. Members called for government to reform outdated regulations that impair providers and payers from offering high quality care in the most affordable settings to consumers. The Roundtable will be working with the Task Force and its members to finalize a set of guiding principles for 2017.
Education & Workforce Development Task Force: MBR’s Education Task Force convened business leaders representing a wide variety of industry sectors for a discussion on the importance of applied skills, the role of the business community working with educators as well as creating more experiential learning opportunities for students. Members of the task force collaborated on a draft set of education and workforce development principles and policy priorities that will lead to specific action items and goals for 2017. The high level draft principles include focusing on better alignment of the education and Workforce development systems with the needs of employers; building a more robust STEM workforce pipeline, which is essential for short- and long-term competitiveness; investing in early childhood education to provide the foundation for later learning and success; strengthening partnerships between business and education by scaling up innovative models for workforce development; and improving the applied skills and “real world” skills that are essential for success in the 21st century workplace.
The Roundtable is pleased to welcome new member Chris Ward, President of Business Banking from longstanding MBR member company Citizens Bank. His team serves the banking needs of more than 330,000 businesses across the 11 states served by Citizens Bank. He oversees more than 600 sales and operations colleagues with responsibility for business customers with up to $25 million in annual sales and all credit underwriting/operations. He is responsible for advancing the business line’s growth and profitability by leading and aligning the business strategy, brand, customer experience and data analytics efforts.
Mr. Ward began his career in financial services in 1990. Before joining Citizens in 2014, Ward served at BBVA as executive vice president, global director of small and medium enterprise segment (small business banking). Prior to that, he was BBVA Compass’ U.S. franchise small business segment director. He also held positions in retail banking leadership and consumer lending leadership.
Mr. Ward earned a bachelor’s degree in finance from Florida Atlantic University. He continued his education at the Consumer Banker Association’s Graduate School of Retail Bank Management, the BBVA/IESE Corporate Management Program in Spain, the Center for Creative Leadership’s Looking Glass 360/Leading for Organizational Change program and the BBVA/Babson College Entrepreneurial Strategies for Growth in Madrid, Spain.
Fast-growing Roundtable members Shire is expanding operations and creating new jobs by establishing a rare disease innovation hub in Cambridge. The company announced recently its plans to increase its footprint in the heart of Kendall Square.
“Shire and BioMed Realty have signed a lease for a 343,000-square-foot building at 500 Kendall Street. With the adjacent space it currently occupies at 650 Kendall St., Shire will create a cross-disciplinary Kendall Square campus, with teams spanning research, clinical development, medical affairs, business development, and other related functions. Close coordination among these teams and with potential external partners will further catalyze Shire’s serial innovation across a range of rare diseases and highly specialized conditions.
“By expanding our presence in Cambridge, with its close proximity to best-in-class hospitals, research institutions, universities and a thriving biotechnology community, we will strengthen our ties with the early innovators around us to shape the next generation of breakthrough therapies for patients with high unmet needs,” said Shire Chief Executive Officer Flemming Ornskov, M.D., M.P.H. “These plans signify our continued growth and our deep and enduring commitment to serving patients, families and caregivers across the globe who are affected by rare diseases and highly specialized conditions.” READ Release
In a public announcement, Roundtable members Eversource and DONG Energy announced a partnership to advance offshore wind to create environmental and economic benefits for Massachusetts. From its release:
DONG Energy—the global leader in offshore wind power—is teaming up with Eversource Energy—the premier transmission builder in New England—who has acquired a 50 percent ownership interest in Bay State Wind in order to jointly develop the project. The proposed offshore wind farm would be located approximately 15-25 miles south of Martha’s Vineyard in an area that has the potential to develop at least 2,000 megawatts of electricity—enough to power one million Massachusetts homes.
“Offshore wind has great potential in the U.S., and I am very pleased that we are entering into a strategic partnership with Eversource to develop our first project in New England,” said Samuel Leupold, EVP and CEO of DONG Energy Wind Power. “Offshore wind will add to the diversity, and the security, of Massachusetts’ energy mix.”
“New England is setting the pace for a national clean energy future with its proven track record in energy efficiency and bold clean energy goals,” said Jim Judge, President and CEO of Eversource Energy. “Our partnership with DONG Energy on Bay State Wind represents a significant opportunity to help make those goals a reality and we look forward to delivering this renewable and reliable source of power to customers.” READ Release
Roundtable member IBM recently announced the grand opening of its IBM Security Worldwide Headquarters and its new IBM Security X-Force Command Center in Cambridge. The company celebrated the opening with an event that featured security experts, government officials including Attorney General Maura Healey, as well as academic leaders for a tour of this state-of-the-art facility. IBM developed a simulated threat environment designed to demonstrate the latest security tools and techniques used by cyber-criminals, while building crisis leadership skills to counteract them. READ BBJ Story
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.
Christophe Weber, President & CEO, @TakedaPharma @Northeastern #CEOBreakfastForum. #Takeda is transforming into a global company.
Member @Mass_Tech and NEVCA sponsor TechGen, a year-round community & engagement between tech startups and companies www.maroundtable.com//MassTech.pdf
Member @DellEMC spread interest in STEM & creates workforce pipelines to help students find future jobs. #MBRPartner www.maroundtable.com/BEP_DELL_EMC.pdf
Congrats and thanks to Roundtable member s@BerkshireBank for this outstanding support for #BostonWinter at City Hall Plaza!
Member @MITREcorp and @WPI have a long-standing partnership which includes the undergraduate project center. www.maroundtable.com//BEP_MITRE.pdf
Congratulations to Roundtable member @HarvardPilgrim for earning top marks on 2017 Corporate Equality Index from @HRC
@northeastern has provided students with invaluable employment experience through the Co-op program. #MBREdPartners www.maroundtable.com/BEP_NortheasternU.pdf
Congrats to Roundtable member @babson President Kerry Healey on appointment by @MassGovernor to the #DigitalHealth Council