Friday, July 29, 2011

LAST DAY: Enter to win airline tickets at the Summer Reception on August 3


On the Record: Bill Gates speaks at National Urban League convention, Dunkin' IPO, debt ceiling uncertainty

Last night, Chamber CEO Paul Guzzi went 'On the Record' with NECN's Mike Nikitas to discuss Bill Gates' address as part of the National Urban League's annual convention in Boston, the business uncertainty caused by the ongoing debt ceiling debate, and Dunkin' Brands successful IPO.

Chamber joins group calling for cost analysis of health coverage mandate

The Chamber, along with Massachusetts Business Roundtable, Associated Industries of Massachusetts, Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, and other organizations representing employers and heath plans, have sent the below letter to Senate President Therese Murray to express opposition to House Bill 3594.

This broad group of organizations is committed to ensuring access to high-quality, affordable health care in the Commonwealth.

Read the letter here.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Debt ceiling showdown & Murdoch hacking scandal on 'This Week in Business'

Yesterday on This Week in Business, Boston Business Editors Shirley Leung of the Boston Globe, Frank Quaratiello of the Boston Herald, and Eric Convey of the Boston Business Journal, joined hosts Paul Guzzi and Mike Nikitas to discuss the nation's debt ceiling crisis and the Rupert Murdoch hacking scandal.



In the Briefing Room, the editors discuss the 10-year high in Venture Capital funding in New England and share stories that their own papers have been focusing on. They also make predicitions on news to come in the week ahead.



On the Business Beat, NECN business reporter Peter Howe weighs in on the legacy of Myra Kraft, Massachusetts jobless rate, bankruptcy at Borders, and surveys claiming that Boston is among the worst dressed and meanest cities in the country!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Chamber Announces 2011 Small Business of the Year Awards Honorees

Greater Boston’s ‘Top 10’ small businesses to be honored at October 13 luncheon

Boston, Mass. (July 18, 2011) – The Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce today announced the winners of its 2011 Small Business of the Year Awards. This year’s awards will honor the ‘Top 10’ small and high-growth businesses in the Greater Boston region, with Little Sprouts, a leader in early childhood education, recognized as the ‘Small Business of the Year.’ An awards luncheon for all the honorees will be held at the Colonnade Hotel on Thursday, October 13, at 12 p.m.  

The additional nine companies to be honored include:
Now in its 27th year, the Chamber’s Small Business of the Year Awards recognize the achievements of Greater Boston’s small and growing for-profit companies with gross revenues of more than $1 million who display strong financial performance, achievement in management, workplace excellence, product innovation, and community or social responsibility.

“In recognition of the significant impact that small business has on our region’s economy, this year the Chamber will honor Greater Boston’s ‘Top 10’ small businesses, led by Little Sprouts, an innovative leader in early childhood education,” said Paul Guzzi, president & CEO of the Greater Boston Chamber. “The 2011 winners are an excellent representation of the entrepreneurial spirit, focus on excellence, and commitment to the community that define our region’s small businesses. We look forward to honoring them on October 13.”

The 2011 Small Business of the Year, Little Sprouts, is dedicated to improving early childhood literacy rates and closing the education achievement gap to help ensure a better future for children in Massachusetts. Founded 28 years ago in the Merrimack Valley, Little Sprouts now serves over 1,500 children in 13 locations across the state—with plans to open a 14th location in Brighton later this year.

Little Sprouts supports families across 56 cultures, 23 languages, and a wide range of social, economic, religious, and ethnic backgrounds. It has established itself as an active leader in early education by working on policy issues and curriculum development at the federal and state levels. The organization has received the “Preschool Centers of Educational Excellence” award from the US Department of Education for the past seven years, and was recognized by the Boston Business Journal as a "2011 Pacesetter"—one of the region’s fastest-growing privately held companies. 

Previous Small Business of the Year Award winners include Sagamore Plumbing & Heating, Inc., Cedar’s Mediterranean Foods, Inc., Infoscitex Corporation, RDK Engineers, Hartney Greymont, Baker’s Best, Elizabeth Grady, Cafco Construction Management Inc., The Piantedosi Baking Company, Stacy’s Pita Chip Company, Finagle a Bagel, Boston Duck Tours, Gentle Giant Moving Company, Nantucket Nectars, and J.P. Licks.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Paul Guzzi 'On the Record' on business tax reforms, muni health reform included in budget

Chamber CEO Paul Guzzi went On the Record last night to discuss business tax reforms and municipal health care reforms included in the state's recently signed FY'12 budget, and an uptick in convention center bookings in Boston.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Paul Guzzi on state budget & convention bookings on WBZ Radio


President & CEO Paul Guzzi
Today, Chamber president & CEO Paul Guzzi discussed the state's FY'12 budget, Greater Boston's leadership in alternative energy jobs, and an increase in future convention bookings with WBZ NewsRadio's Laurie Kirby.

Listen to the audio below. The interview will play throughout the day on WBZ-AM NewsRadio 1030.


Chamber Hosts Second Webinar of Summer

The Chamber's Membership Webinar Series continued today, as nearly 50 members participated this afternoon in a special member engagement webinar.


Melanie Axman, director of member services, and Sam Atoui, member services manager, hosted the 30-minute webinar, providing participants with an overview of strategic engagement with the Chamber, and what it means for their company. Topics included professional network growth, targeted visibility opportunities, public policy participation, and employee leadership development.

Click here to view the presentation online.

The next membership webinar will be held on August 11, and the focus will be membership benefits. Every webinar has dedicated Q&A time, giving you the opportunity to ask questions of our team of membership experts. To register for the August 11 webinar, please e-mail Sam Atoui.

And remember, Chamber membership extends to every employee at your company!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Chamber-Supported Municipal Health Insurance Reform Included in FY’12 Budget

On Monday, the Legislature voted to accept the Governor's amendments to the municipal health reform plan that was included in the Legislature’s budget. This measure will result in significant savings to cities and towns while preserving local services, protecting municipal jobs and maintaining municipal health benefits at least equal to state employee health benefits. As a member of the Mass Reform First coalition, the Chamber has worked with other business and civic groups for municipal health insurance reform.

Thanks to the efforts of the Governor, Speaker DeLeo, Senate President Murray, Ways and Means Chairmen Brewer and Dempsey and members of the Budget Conference Committee, this bill achieves fair and meaningful reform, providing the following framework for municipalities to make cost-saving changes to their health plans:
  • Local officials are given authority to design a health plan that results in savings or transfer employees into the Group Insurance Commission (GIC) if the savings in GIC would be 5 percent greater than those possible through local plan design changes. All proposed changes need to be presented to a public employee committee (PEC) representing unions and retirees.
  • If the PEC does not agree to the proposed changes within 30 days, a three-member panel will be established. This panel will be comprised of a municipal and labor representative and an impartial mediator.
  • The panel is given 10 days to review the proposed changes. Changes that ask too much from workers may be rejected -- however, the panel must approve the proposed changes for immediate implementation as long as the cost sharing plan design features are no greater in dollar amount than the most-subscribed plan in the GIC.
  • Up to 25 percent of the total savings from lower premiums achieved through plan design changes may be returned to employees to offset higher co-payments and deductible. Additionally, the plan calls for a moratorium on changes to retiree premium cost-sharing agreements for three years.
The Chamber welcomes the compromise and commends the Legislature and the Administration for making the difficult decisions necessary to move forward on this critical issue. Giving local governments greater authority over the design of public employee health care plans – similar to state government – will help slow the growth of health care costs and relieve pressure on local budgets.

Chamber Submits Testimony Opposing Several Proposed Money Market Fund Changes

The Chamber submitted testimony for a June 24 Congressional hearing on mutual funds held by the Capital Markets and Government Sponsored Enterprises Subcommittee. The Chamber’s testimony registered its opposition to several proposed money market fund changes being considered by federal lawmakers and regulators. Specifically, the Chamber outlined its concern about the impact of proposals that would require money market funds to maintain a floating Net Asset Value (NAV), and would require the funds to be subject to bank-like regulation and capital reserves.

Implementation of these changes could drastically change the nature of money market funds – threatening the viability of money market funds as 1) an investment product and 2) a critical source of short-term financing for companies to fund payroll, replenish inventories, and finance expansion. The Chamber will continue to work with Congressional and regulatory leaders to prevent adoption of new regulations and requirements that would negatively impact these important and already highly-regulated investment products.

Chamber-Proposed Business Tax Reforms Included in FY’12 Budget

The FY’12 state budget, signed into law yesterday by Governor Patrick, includes several important business tax reforms proposed by the Chamber. These reforms (outlined below) were developed with an eye toward strengthening the state's business climate and enhancing fairness and predictability for taxpayers.

Summary of Business Tax Reforms
  1. Audit Cycle Length: Shorten the tax audit cycle by reducing certain interest penalties charged to businesses if the state takes more than 18 months to perform an audit - providing an incentive for the state to speed up the audit process which can be quite lengthy and costly for businesses.
  2. Statute of Limitation Parity: Establish the same statute of limitations for assessments and abatements - addressing an unfair rule that currently exists in which businesses have a shorter period in which to amend a return than the state does to assess a return.
  3. Tax Policy Development: Require the state to post quarterly online reports on tax policies before it takes any action on them - giving taxpayers an opportunity to review tax policies and provide input before they are finalized.
Administrative & Cultural Changes at DOR

In addition to these legislative reforms, the state Department of Revenue (DOR) has also agreed to take administrative actions that will create a more business-friendly environment in Massachusetts:

  • DOR has provided additional guidance about the circumstances where a penalty will be imposed for "substantial underpayment", and will provide additional guidance about situations in which penalties may be assessed.
  • DOR will provide direction to its audit staff, to review operations with a view to improving relations with taxpayers.
The Chamber applauds the Administration and the Legislature for enacting this package of reforms. Coupled with the Chamber-backed “3-in-3” investment incentive and net operating loss carry-forward innovation incentive tax proposals signed into law last year, these reforms are designed to improve Massachusetts' tax climate and strengthen its reputation among states as an attractive place to do business.

Chamber Recommends Changes to State Requirements for Waterfront Development

Chapter 91, the state waterways licensing program, regulates development on the Commonwealth’s waterfronts. While it seeks to promote public access to the water, Chapter 91 includes unnecessary restrictions that hinder waterfront developments. Those hindrances are especially pronounced in Boston.

To address them, the Chamber recently submitted testimony in support of S. 371, An Act to Revitalize the Commonwealth’s Waterfronts. Chapter 91 requires ground floor space of waterfront buildings to be reserved for facilities of public accommodation (FPAs) regardless of how much foot traffic is drawn to the site. Studies have shown that the public space required by Chapter 91 far exceeds demand. S. 371 would allow local zoning to regulate ground floor uses, enabling local planning and development professionals to shape the requirement to better meet local needs. In addition, S. 371 would change the calculation of FPA space, making the FPA requirement more workable in small development projects.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Summer travel & tourism trends on This Week in Business

Sunday on This Week in Business, Pat Moscaritolo, president & CEO of the Greater Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau, joined hosts Paul Guzzi and Mike Nikitas to discuss prospects for summer travel and tourism in the region. He also shared insight into the increase of foreign visitors to Greater Boston.



In the Briefing Room, Karl Stone of Ski New Hampshire and Bill Quigley of Gunstock Mountain Resort joined to discuss the summer season at New Hampshire ski resorts. The two share all that Gunstock and other resorts are doing to attract visitors throughout all seasons of the year.



On the Business Beat, NECN business reporter Peter Howe weighs in on the sale of BJ's, recent housing data, the Massachusetts-Israel Innovation Partnership, and the Massachusetts state budget.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Budget, BIO & BJ's 'On the Record'

Last night, Chamber EVP Jim Klocke went On the Record with NECN's Mike Nikitas to discuss the latest state budget details, including a negotiation on municipal health care reform; the Biotechnology Industry Organization annual conference and the Massachusetts-Israel Innovation Partnership; and the $2.8 billion BJ's buyout.

President's Update - Chamber Tax Reforms Included in State Budget

The following is an update from Chamber president and CEO Paul Guzzi:

I am very pleased to let you know that the Legislature’s FY’12 state budget Conference Committee report, released last night, includes several important business tax reforms proposed by the Chamber.

These provisions, which are summarized below, have been developed with an eye toward strengthening the state’s business climate and enhancing fairness and predictability for taxpayers. The reforms will now advance to the full Legislature for approval as part of the budget and then to Governor Patrick for enactment in the coming days. 

Summary of Business Tax Reforms

  1. Audit Cycle Length: Shorten the tax audit cycle by reducing certain interest penalties charged to businesses if the state takes more than 18 months to perform an audit – providing an incentive for the state to speed up the audit process which can be quite lengthy and costly for businesses.
  2.  Statute of Limitation Parity: Establish the same statute of limitations for assessments and abatements – addressing an unfair rule that currently exists in which businesses have a shorter period in which to amend a return than the state does to assess a return.
  3. Tax Policy Development: Require the state to post quarterly online reports on tax policies before it takes any action on them – giving taxpayers an opportunity to review the tax policies and provide input before they are finalized.
Administrative & Cultural Changes at DOR

In addition to these legislative reforms, the state Department of Revenue (DOR) has also agreed to take administrative actions that will create a more business-friendly environment in Massachusetts:
  • DOR has provided additional guidance about the circumstances where a penalty will be imposed for "substantial underpayment", and will provide additional guidance about situations in which penalties may be assessed.
  •  DOR will provide direction to its audit staff, to review operations with a view to improving relations with taxpayers.
Enactment of this package of reforms, coupled with the aforementioned administrative and cultural changes, will improve Massachusetts’ tax climate and strengthen its reputation among states as an attractive place to do business.

Once the budget is finalized, the Chamber’s Public Policy team will schedule and host a conference call for members in order to discuss these tax changes as well as other relevant policy issues contained in the budget.

-Paul Guzzi