The High Cost of Electricity is a Major Issue Impacting Massachusetts Businesses

Submitted by the Southeastern Massachusetts Chamber of Commerce Alliance
(Bristol County Chamber of Commerce, Cape Cod Canal Region Chamber of Commerce and SouthCoast Chamber)

The High Cost of Electricity is a Major Issue Impacting Massachusetts Businesses

The objective of the Southeastern Massachusetts Chamber of Commerce Alliance (SMCCA) is to increase the visibility of chamber member businesses on Beacon Hill and Washington D.C. The alliance is also intended to serve as a platform to work with members of the legislative delegation on policy formation as well as response to existing initiatives put forth at the statewide or national level that directly affect Southeastern Massachusetts. A long standing issue of great concern impacting Massachusetts businesses and residents alike within southeastern Massachusetts has been the outrageously high cost of electricity. Cheap electricity is available throughout much of the United States. It is not the case in Massachusetts.

A major factor driving up the cost of electricity is high demand without adequate infrastructure to support consumption. That problem is getting worse due to the continued decommissioning of primary power plants with no real time replacements. The consequence is that pricing is going up again in the state that already has the highest costs for electricity in the continental United States.

The pricing situation is particularly acute in Southeastern Massachusetts where the Brayton Point Station in Somerset, once the litigation target of the Conservation Law Foundation, is now permanently offline. While the decommissioning of Brayton Point has been a great victory for environmentalists, this 1,530-megawatt power plant was the primary producer of electricity in the Southeastern Massachusetts. The termination of both the Brayton Point and the Montaup Electric Co. plant power plants in Somerset leaves Southeastern Massachusetts with no means of producing reliable energy and equates to a greater than 2000 megawatts net loss of electricity production in Massachusetts.

After years of advocacy, state government has finally begun to address the issue of electricity infrastructure. Please know that the trending away from “dirty” fossil fuels is recognized as a good thing by the collective membership of the Southeastern Massachusetts Chamber of Commerce Alliance and many other corporate citizens within Massachusetts. That is why the Cape Cod Canal Region, SouthCoast and Bristol County chambers of commerce were strong proponents for the energy bill that became the new state procurement law in 2016. With the recent submission of numerous on-shore wind, hydropower and off-shore wind proposals as part of the Commonwealth’s long term “Clean Energy” solicitation it is also important not to neglect our immediate needs.

What was hoped for by many business groups and ratepayers is a pragmatic policy that reduces or at least stabilizes electricity costs, while also looking ahead to sustainability. From the perspective of Southeastern Massachusetts the opposite looks to be the case as future sustainability has clearly superseded costs. That is why it is asked that the expansion of natural gas infrastructure should no longer be put aside solely for political convenience.

Leveraging gas in combination with the expansion of green alternatives is a reasonable option that can be used to contain the high cost of electricity while also meeting environmental aspirations. There is no reason why Massachusetts cannot be practical and forward thinking by moving forward on both fronts simultaneously. Lack of action on this issue of infrastructure has been a key factor in raising electricity costs, which most certainly has been impacting the Massachusetts economy. Now is the time for action.

Respectfully,

 

Rick Kidder
President and Chief Executive Officer
SouthCoast Chamber

Marie Oliva
President and Chief Executive Officer
Cape Cod Canal Region Chamber of Commerce

Robert A. Mellion, Esq.
President and Chief Executive Officer
Bristol County Chamber of Commerce

 

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Message from the Membership Campaign Co-chair

If you are a business owner you owe it to yourself, your employees, your customers and your bottom line to seriously consider joining the SouthCoast Chamber of Commerce. It is headed by a solid team of professionals that are dedicated to helping ensure that your business grows and thrives. There are so many benefits! From networking opportunities, expos, sponsorships, ribbon cuttings, advertising opportunities, committees, shop local programs, advocacy, the list goes on. You’ll be working side by side with fellow businesses to not only help your business but continue to grow and succeed as a community. If you are a member already, you know full well how beneficial your membership is. And,if you are not a member yet, I urge you to join during the 2017 SouthCoast Chamber of Commerce Membership Drive.

Chris Johnson
Marketing Manager of SERVPRO® of Dartmouth / New Bedford and Marion/Middleboro
2017 Membership Campaign Co-chair

 

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New SouthCoast Chamber Logo

The SouthCoast Chamber is pleased to announce we now have a new logo for our new name! Chamber President & CEO Rick Kidder said “We are pleased to unveil our new logo, a graphic representation of the Butler Flats lighthouse, an iconic symbol of New Bedford and the South Coast. Just as lighthouses light the way for mariners, the Chamber helps businesses find their way and sheds light on issues of importance to the business community.”

Chamber members that wish to add the logo to their website can download the member badge here.

We would like to thank Chamber member Sergio Dabdoub for designing the new logo.

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STEM Employers Step Up To “Hire A Youth”

By Brenna Souza

The Greater New Bedford Connecting Activities Partnership relies heavily on our involvement with area employers in order to be successful and to ensure that we make the most out of all high school interns’ experiences. The focus this year at the state level for Connecting Activities is to recruit and partner with more employers within the STEM field who are looking to “hire a youth.” STEM is based on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics and students are being educated within all four disciplines. Work in the STEM field is growing rapidly and statistics have shown that the need for STEM related jobs will rise drastically by 2018.

The GNBCAP was extremely lucky this year to get the chance to partner with Tegra Medical, LLC. Tegra Medical stepped up and sponsored three students through the Connecting Activities internship program, who have worked in Engineering and Manufacturing while at the facility. Tegra Medical is a STEM employer who focuses on precision machining and contract manufacturing, which services the medical device industry.

Kenneth Campanale the Director of Regulatory and Quality at Tegra Medical, spoke with the GNCAP on the benefits he feels his organization received from hosting student interns. Mr. Campanale stated, “We have received more than what we have given to these students. The students are well prepared to work in a new environment and have a great work ethic. They have been an excellent resource to our team. Once they are trained on a task, they need little supervision with completing the task. We look forward to the summer months because we will have these resources to help support our team.”

Click here to see a video about the students experience at Tegra.
(video provided courtesy of Bristol Community College)

Employers who choose to host these student interns are given the chance to someday offer the students an opportunity to be employed closer to home and bring work back to the South Coast area. While hosting a student intern, an employer is giving the students the power and tools needed in order to be successful in the future. The objective for the GNBCAP is to provide a work experience that gives students the opportunity to expand knowledge gained in the classroom by applying it in a work setting.

If you are interested in hosting a student intern or would like more information, please contact Brenna Souza (508)999-5231 ext. 29 or [email protected]

About the Connecting Activities Partnership
The Greater New Bedford Connecting Activities Partnership, a collaboration of the City of New Bedford Office of the Mayor, the Greater New Bedford Workforce Investment Board and Youth Council, Bristol Community College and the SouthCoast Chamber, promotes the connecting of academic and workplace learning through Connecting Activities workplace internships. Area employers assist high school seniors to make more informed decisions about their future education and career choices. Currently, we service students at Dartmouth High School, Fairhaven High School, New Bedford High School, Old Colony Regional Vocational Technical High School and Old Rochester Regional High School. More information about the partnership is available at www.southcoastchamber.com or by calling (508) 999-5231.

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Call for Membership Drive Volunteers & Prize Donations -We Need Your Support!

The SouthCoast Chamber will be holding a Membership Campaign on Tuesday, September 12th and Wednesday, September 13th from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Please consider giving three and a half hours of your time with fellow business leaders, all while sharing the value you derive from being a member. The day will include a complimentary lunch. In addition, valuable prizes will be awarded to top recruiters!

The Chamber provides numerous services for its members, including networking and professional development, export services, an electricity discount program, free and low cost marketing, school-to- career initiatives, trade shows, as well as government affairs programs and advocacy to encourage a positive business climate for the New Bedford Area.

In addition, the Chamber’s New Member Campaign will also feature several “join now” incentives for businesses and organizations that enroll with the Chamber, including free advertising, web site listings, admission to Chamber networking programs and more.

If you are unable to volunteer your time, please consider donating a prize or gift certificate for those who will be participating in the campaign. Your support will help make this Membership Campaign a great success!

Last year’s prize sponsors were: AAA of Southern New England,Back Nine Club, Cotali Mar Restaurant, Country Club of New Bedford , Dunkin Donuts, Fran’s Travel, Hampton Inn of Fairhaven/New Bedford, Clifton Larson Allen, LaFrance Hospitality, Luzo Auto Body, Mirasol’s Café, Moore & Isherwood, Not Your Average Joe’s, The Pasta House, Rose Alley Ale House, Pawtucket Red Sox, Residence Inn by Marriott, The Steamship Authority, The Whaling Museum and YMCA Southcoast.

If you are interested in volunteering for the drive or, are interested in becoming a prize sponsor, please contact Ian Abreu, Manager of Business Development & Public Policy at the SouthCoast Chamber at: (508) 999-5231, ext.24, or, via email at [email protected]

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The Business Voice: Call for Volunteers and Locations

The SouthCoast Chamber has long held the belief that having the Mayor’s term run for only two years contributes to less long-term thinking, a sense of an election cycle always in process and the challenge for the Mayor to execute on an agenda on behalf of the city free from the pressures of time spent on election activities. A dedicated group of citizens and business leaders have banded together to form a committee called New Bedford Fourward with a goal of getting signatures to put an initiative on the ballot allowing New Bedford residents to vote a charter change which would increase the mayoral term from two years to four. Many other cities have adopted this wise practice, and we hope that you, as business owners, feel the same way!
The initiative would not change anything about the upcoming election cycle, but would take effect, if passed, with the 2019 election.
What we need:
Sincerely,

 

Rick Kidder
President/CEO
SouthCoast Chamber
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The Business Voice – June 2017

Proposed Massachusetts ‘millionaire tax’ question heading to 2018 ballot

By: Ian Abreu

A proposed “millionaire tax” constitutional amendment is heading to the 2018 ballot after Massachusetts lawmakers voted 134-55 on Wednesday, June 14, 2017 to place the measure before voters.

Under this proposal, individuals with annual incomes above $1 million would be subject to a 4% surtax. This surtax would only apply to portions of income over $1 million. The current income tax rate is 5.1 percent.

If you would like to communicate with your elected state senator and or representative about this proposal and make your voice heard, you can do so by following this link: https://malegislature.gov/Search/FindMyLegislator

 

 

Compromise Reached on Health Assessment

By: Ian Abreu

Thanks to the lobbying and advocacy of Chambers, Associations and the business community all throughout the Commonwealth, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker has deviated from his original $2,000 per worker penalty assessed on employers who employ more than 10 full time workers  if they do not provide what has been defined as “adequate” health insurance.

The new proposal calls for an increase in the “Employer Medical Assistance Contribution” levied on all employers with six or more employees from a maximum of $51 per employee to $77 per employee. This new assessment is expected to generate approximately $75 million in new state revenues for FY 18’.

The second tier assessment would also apply to companies with six or more employees and be capped at $750 per non-disabled employee who chooses to enroll in Mass Health instead of an employer-sponsored health insurance plan.

The Baker administration expects to collect $125 million from the tier-two penalties, which are designed to target companies whose workers are contributing to the state’s rising Medicaid expenses by opting for public plans, if income-eligible, instead of private coverage.

If you would like more analysis on this new proposal, please click here to read the latest commentary from the “Commonwealth Magazine.”

 

First Joint Meeting of the “Southeastern Massachusetts Legislative Alliance” Scheduled

By: Ian Abreu

The SouthCoast Chamber continues to strengthen our regional government affairs approach, and as such, have formed the “Southeastern Mass Legislative Alliance,” which will consist of our Chamber, the Bristol County Chamber (formally the Fall River Chamber), Cape Cod Canal Region Chamber and others.

 

As a member of our Chamber, we would like to extend an invitation to all of you to attend our first joint meeting, in which we will discuss the alliance, next steps, etc.

Time & Date: Friday, July 21st @ 8 a.m.

Location: Bristol County Chamber of Commerce, 200 Pocasset St., Fall River, Ma 02721

(We will be joined by special guest speaker, Congressman William Keating, 9th Congressional Representative.)

We hope you all will be able to adjust your summer schedules accordingly so you can attend.

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Chowderfest Returning this October – Calling All Restaurants!

Planning has begun for the 12th Annual New Bedford Seaport Chowder Festival and we are inviting restaurants throughout the SouthCoast to join us on Sunday, October 8 at City Pier 3 to showcase their signature dishes from 12 noon to 5:00 pm.

This year “ChowderFest” award categories will include Clam and Seafood Chowder, Kale Soup, Signature Soup, Stuffed Quahog, and Best Table Presentation.  Competing restaurants will serve up sample-sized portions of their most popular dishes and will be featured in an intense promotional advertising program leading up to the event!

There will be chances to receive trophies, plaques and cash prizes for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place in two separate contests, “Judges Choice” and “People’s Choice” The tasting wraps up by 3pm and the votes are tallied by our team of volunteers. The fun continues with children’s activities live music, beer, wine, cocktails, cold drinks, and desserts until the awards are presented at 4:30pm.

Don’t miss out on of all the excitement happening at Chowderfest and the opportunity to serve your delicious signature dishes to over 3000 attendees.  Sponsorship opportunities are also available on all levels making it possible for organizations of any size to get involved and gain exposure.  For more information contact Deven Robitaille, Programs and Events Manger at 508 999-5231.

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Southeastern Massachusetts Legislative Alliance Letter On Employer Paid Family & Medical Leave

Employer Paid Family & Medical Leave Is a Step Too Far!

The Southeastern Massachusetts Legislative Alliance, comprised of the Bristol County Chamber of Commerce and the SouthCoast Chamber, is strongly in opposition to the proposed Employer Paid Family & Medical Leave mandate on Massachusetts businesses. State lawmakers are seriously considering several employer paid family and medical leave proposals. If passed this legislative mandate will require Massachusetts businesses to grant up to 26 weeks paid time off in a calendar year to workers for their own illnesses; as well as up to 12-16 weeks paid time off to care for family members (spouse, child, parent, parent of spouse, grandchild or grandparent). These legislatively imposed benefits are at the expense of Massachusetts businesses.

The threat of an Employer Paid Family and Medical Leave law comes on the heels of a lawmaker encouraged ballot initiative that now requires Massachusetts companies to provide one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours of work to all workers. The employer paid family and medical leave proposals will further harm businesses by allowing their workers 26 weeks paid time off to care for themselves and 16 weeks for family members. Both benefits would allow for intermittent and extended periods of time with pay. The paid benefits will be employer financed and could cost small businesses as much as $1000 per week, per employee. This is in addition to the expense of finding and paying for alternative workers that will be needed to make up for the individuals taking employer paid time off.

While four other states, which include Rhode Island and New Jersey, have enacted medical and family leave provisions, their programs are strictly funded by employee payroll deductions. No state in the United States mandates that employers must pay for employee medical and family time off. Massachusetts would the only state to place such an incredible financial burden on its own businesses.

For the Massachusetts program to work, it will be funded from a new tax assessed on small businesses. One small instrument of relief being considered by legislators is to allow employers an option to shift up to 50% of the assessment costs to their employees. The revenues raised from the new assessment, which acts as a tax, will be used to fund and create another state agency to administer the program.

No one can deny that the expense of this legislatively imposed mandate will impact every business in Massachusetts. Please keep in mind that Massachusetts is already a high cost state to do business within. It is also important to recognize that the current Legislative Session includes bills that if enacted would mandate 3 weeks in advance employer scheduling, establish a $15 minimum wage, establish a millionaire’s tax that is a masked tax on limited liability companies and S corporations and further increase the cost of energy in the state that already has the highest cost for electricity in the continental United States. The employer paid health care assessment hidden within the state budget is an additional hit to businesses. Another is the proposed increases to Unemployment Insurance. All of these hardships are coming at Massachusetts companies at once.

In the days ahead it is hoped that state lawmakers take the time to contemplate the impacts of what employer paid family and medical leave will do to their constituent businesses. They should also balance the totality of the impacts when considering additional anti-business burdens such as the employer health care assessment within the state budget, strict scheduling legislation and a $15 Minimum Wage. Hopefully it will be recognized that all of these employer paid mandates are too much for Massachusetts businesses to absorb at once.

Respectfully,

Robert A. Mellion, Esq.
President & CEO
Bristol County Chamber of Commerce
Voice of Business Since 1911
200 Pocasset Street
Fall River, MA 02721
Telephone: (508) 676-8226

Rick Kidder
President & CEO
New Bedford Area Chamber of Commerce (d/b/a SouthCoast Chamber)
Proudly Serving New Bedford and the Towns of the South Coast
794 Purchase Street
New Bedford, MA 02740
Telephone: (508) 999-5231

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Good Morning SouthCoast!: “Preparing Our Future Workforce: Challenges and Opportunities”

This edition of Good Morning SouthCoast is dedicated to “Preparing Our Future Workforce: Challenges and Opportunities” and will focus on grades K – 12.  The event will be held on Thursday, June 22nd at the Wamsutta Club at 7:30 a.m. and a full breakfast buffet will be served. This is going to be an interactive program with a panel of experts and professionals who will share their ideas and knowledge on how we collectively educate and retain today’s talented students within the area. The panel will include local Superintendents from local schools and professionals working directly in the area school systems.  The event will have be a seasoned moderator who will facilitate questions from the audience to the panel.   Panelists include:

Dr. Pia Durkin, Superintendent New Bedford Public Schools

Dr. Robert Baldwin, Superintendent Fairhaven Public Schools

Mr. James O’Brien, Superintendent-Director Greater New Bedford Voc Tech High School

Mr. Aaron Polansky,  Superintendent-Director Old Colony regional Vocational Technical High

Mr. Thomas F. Aubin, Superintendent/Director Diman Regional Vocational Technical High

Dr. Stephen Furtado, Executive Director Global Learning Charter School

Event sponsor BayCoast Bank will also be at the event promoting “Get On the Bus”. BayCoast Bank and EdUp invite you to Get on the Bus with us as they roll through the SouthCoast in thier big blue bus, recording the experiences and stories of the people they meet as they relate how education has impacted their own lives and the community. Whether teacher, student, mentor, parent, child – you are invoied to share your ideas wherever you see the bus.  As they hear them, they will be randomly selecting schools and educational programs for cash awards up to $1,000 each.

Can’t wait to visit the bus and record your story? Just use your own smartphone or other device to create your video – share your experiences, or tell about the teachers or mentors who made a difference to you – and upload it to:  www.GetOnTheBusSoCo.com*.

*Complete guidelines for video submissions can be found at http://getonthebussoco.com/entry-rules

The cost to attend which includes breakfast is $27.50 for members, $45 Non-Members and $250 for a table of ten. Registration is required online here or by calling 508-999-5231. For more information, contact Deven Tillman at (508) 999-5231 ext 26.

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