by Rick Kidder, President/CEO of SouthCoast Chamber
Like most people in Massachusetts, I value and applaud the commitment our state has made to being an environmental leader. Here on the South Coast, we are excited to lead the way on offshore wind development and share the desire to have our future energy needs provided for by renewable sources. As a pragmatist, I note that a 100% renewable future is a long way away, and as we welcome the growth of green power — and green jobs — we still need to have policies in place that keep energy costs reasonable and prevent needless gorging on coal and oil.
It goes without saying that the high cost of energy is problematic for consumers and for businesses. You’ve heard it over and over again: we pay the highest electricity prices in the continental United States. We know that this is a regional problem because New Englanders paying an estimated $1 billion in increased energy costs every year. Massachusetts is also the fifth costliest state in which to do business. For a high tech company choosing between Silicon Valley and Boston, this might be less of an issue, but we run the risk that an existing manufacturer in New Bedford may view the price of energy as cost-prohibitive and choose to head to a location out of state where energy costs are lower. Worse yet, we may never know the potential employers we have lost or could lose who made a choice other than our communities due to fears about current and future energy costs.
We are still a manufacturing and cold storage center, and reliability remains a concern. This winter’s cold snap brought that cold, hard reality to Massachusetts and the rest of the region — we simply do not have enough clean sources of energy to keep our businesses running. To ease the burden on consumers and to help business and manufacturing grow we need to expand our access to natural gas.
Natural gas is currently the most widely used form of electricity production in Massachusetts, powering most of our buildings and heating more than half of our homes with nearly 100% reliability. Expanding natural gas infrastructure along an existing footprint in a safe, thoughtful manner could begin delivering lower cost electricity to consumers within five years. If we commit to expanding our natural gas supply (and keeping the pipeline within its existing footprint), we can lower our energy costs and add enough electricity to power more than 5 million homes within 5 years — all while moving ahead with our climate goals as our planned renewable energy sources come online.
The SouthCoast Chamber will be holding its annual Apex Business of the Year Awards on May 23rd from 5:00 PM – 7:00 PM at the Greasy Luck Brewery. The Chamber will pay tribute to local large businesses, small businesses, non-profits and educational institutions at this much-anticipated cocktail reception. Ticket price is $55 per person, which includes passed hors d’oeuvres and a complimentary beverage.
Four organizations will be recognized with a prestigious Apex award; one from each of the categories below. Each organization that was nominated will be recognized for their contributions and commitment the community! The selection committee consists of high-ranking business officials from different local organizations. Three nominees from each category were chosen as finalists and will be interviewed by the selection committee. The Apex Award honorees will be announced and presented with an accolade the night of the awards ceremony.
The nominees include:
Taunton Federal Credit Union
All American Assisted Living at Wareham
Cape Cod Five Cent Savings Bank
Churrascaria Novo Mundo
Simply Sierra Jewelry
Servpro of New Bedford and Dartmouth and Servpro of Marion and Middleboro
PAACA- Positive Action Against Chemical Addiction
YOU (Youth Opportunities Unlimited)
SouthCoast RAPPP (Responsible Attitudes toward Pregnancy, Parenting, and Prevention) Program
New Bedford Symphony Orchestra
Better Community Living
New Bedford Homeless Advocates
Greater New Bedford Regional Vocational Technical High School
Lance Soares’ Family Martial Arts Center, Inc.
Our Sisters’ School
submitted by ReadyJob.org
The Skilled Trades: A Smart Choice for a Great Career
High-tech jobs aren’t the only careers with booming demand. In Massachusetts and across the country, employers are facing a critical shortage of workers in the skilled trades. And as the construction industry gears up for an impending construction boom, companies are feeling the pinch.
Is there really a skilled labor shortage?
There are nearly 200,000 unfilled construction jobs across the country, with thousands of jobs being added every month. And if you ask employers, they can’t find workers to fill them. With the unemployment rate for the construction industry at a low 4.5 percent, it’s clear that there just aren’t enough skilled laborers available. As the National Association of Home Builders reports, that’s leading many employers to turn to immigrant labor to fill open positions. As of 2014, foreign-born workers accounted for almost 23 percent of laborers in the home-building sector.
The shortage isn’t limited to the construction industry. Throughout Massachusetts, businesses are finding themselves with dozens of open entry-level positions and no one with the skills to fill them. Business owners cite a graying workforce with few young workers to replace those who retire, and are turning to on-the-job training programs to close the gap.
Why is there a shortage of skilled labor?
According to reporting from CBS News, a 2017 survey revealed that only three percent of young people are interested in the construction trade for a career. Why are so few people pursuing a career that offers on-the-job training, comfortable pay, and available jobs? The reasons behind the current skilled labor shortage are diverse, but these are some of the major factors at play:
- Poor employment in the construction and manufacturing industries following the economic downturn of the Great Recession, which came with the loss of 3 million jobs in construction alone.
- Stigma toward blue collar workers as less intelligent or capable than workers with a bachelor’s degree or higher.
- Emphasis on four-year degrees as the most secure and profitable career path for high school graduates.
- Reduced vocational education in high school curricula.
What are the benefits of a career in the skilled trades?
Skilled jobs aren’t just available, they’re also opportunities to earn a real living. Unlike a four-year college education, which comes with debt load and little career-oriented training, a vocational education is affordable, short, and comes with a clear path forward. Furthermore, jobs in the trades offer pay comparable to careers that require a four-year degree, with many mid-level jobs offering $50,000 or more with benefits.
The trades offer less tangible benefits as well. Workers don’t have to take work stress home with them or sit in a windowless office all day, there are opportunities for self-employment, and with so many companies hiring, workers have the flexibility to find an employer that treats them right.
How can workers enter the skilled trades?
Many skilled trades workers get their start at a technical school or community college, where they earn either a certificate or an associate’s degree in their trade of choice. While formal education isn’t always required, it can give applicants a leg up over the competition when it comes to applying for apprenticeships. In areas of especially high demand, candidates may be able to enter apprenticeships with only a high school diploma.
The apprenticeship is the most critical component of a trades education. In an apprenticeship, workers get the opportunity to earn wages while learning through on-the-job training. The length of apprenticeships varies, but most span two to five years.
After the apprenticeship, workers are eligible to become licensed and start working professionally in their trade. However, there are always opportunities to keep learning and move up in the field, often with sizable pay increases.
With ample job openings, on-the-job training, and competitive pay, there’s a lot of opportunity to be found in the skilled trades. Unfortunately, that opportunity often goes overlooked by today’s youth. But if you want a good job with good pay that you can find right here in the SouthCoast area, it’s time to give the skilled trades a closer look.
Image via Pexels
By Joanne Rego, Supported Employment Network Coordinator
After reading the July 2017 Enterprising Minds article in the SouthCoast Chamber Focus newsletter, Donald Guimette, President of Shepard Group, Inc. announced to his staff, “I’m hiring him!” As a result, Christopher Mercer found a new job that he loves and an employment opportunity that has proven to have a very successful outcome for both the employer and employee. SouthCoast Chamber member, Shepard Group, Inc. of Westport is a commercial service contractor company that provides property management throughout the Greater New Bedford and Fall River area. His business was in need of a part-time employee to provide the company with maintenance services and truck detailing one day a week at their Westport office. After reading the Southcoast Chamber’s Enterprising Minds article that highlighted Mercer’s work experience and his active job search, Guimette wanted to give Mercer a shot at a new job at his company. Guimette put in a call to Lifestream, Inc.’s supported employment program and spoke to Mark Jardin the Employment Manager at Lifestream, Inc. Jardin met with Guimette at his Shepard’s Group, Inc. office to discuss the employment needs of their company and an interview was set up between Mercer and Guimette. What transpired was the perfect job match not only skill wise, but also, the boss and the new employee’s personalities were a perfect match too. Both Guimette and Mercer are New England sports enthusiast, which created a unique connection between the two.
Chris loves his new job providing maintenance services for his new employer. His duties at Shepard Group, Inc. include cleaning the kitchen and bathrooms, cleaning and detailing the company trucks, mopping and vacuuming the floors and shredding paper. Chris says he enjoys working with his new co-workers including Sarah, Rackel and the guys in the garage. Guimette says he loves having Mercer working for him at his company. Guimette says Chris always has a smile on his face when he comes to work and notes that Mercer gets along well with all his co-workers. Sarah says that Mercer is reliable, always on time and he is a hard worker.
Mercer says he is proud to earn a paycheck and to be a tax-paying citizen. He was very pleased when he received his first W-2 this year. Mercer says he saves his money to buy sports gear and to go out for dinner with family and friends.
Mercer has been employed at Shepard Group, Inc. since the summer of 2017. Mark Jardin from Lifestream, Inc. says he is very proud of Mercer and his work performance at both of his jobs. Jardin says that Mercer is a dependable and skilled worker who is very sociable and is willing to do whatever task his employers needs him to do.
If your business is interested in hiring a skilled and dedicated employee like Mercer or you would like to discuss an employment opportunity, set up an interview for someone who has disabilities while receiving job supports services from one of the participating SouthCoast Chamber’s Supported Employment Network Committee members, please call Joanne Rego at the SouthCoast Chamber at 508-999-5231.
submitted by the GNB Workforce Investment Board
On February 12, 2018, Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito and Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Jay Ash announced Urban Agenda grants for projects across Massachusetts. Included in these awards was a multi-partner effort to help enhance resources for New Bedford women to start and grow their businesses.
WEB New Bedford (the WomEntrepreneurship and Business New Bedford) aligns with the New Bedford 2020 Master Plan as a comprehensive strategy for economic development through business assistance and access to seed funds. The project will recruit 8 participants with a focus on women and minorities living in New Bedford who are interested in starting or have started a business and need assistance growing. Activities include Bristol Community College entrepreneurship courses and support from twelve partners including the Greater New Bedford Workforce Investment Board, Massachusetts Small Business Development Center, New Bedford Economic Development Council, Immigrant’s Assistance Center, PACE YouthBuild, United Way of Greater New Bedford, GNB Career Center, EForAll, BCC, CEDC, Groundwork!, and SouthCoast Chamber.
The vision of WEB New Bedford is to capitalize on and aggregate the available local resources and seed funding for long term catalytic growth for women-owned businesses in New Bedford. The goal is to help women start and grow businesses in New Bedford.
A goal of this project is to continue to help start and to grow the number of women owned small businesses in New Bedford and its neighborhoods. The economic benefits from and the number of women owned businesses nationally have continued to increase at higher rates than the national average of entrepreneurial small business firms, with approximately 11.3 million employing nearly 9 million people and fueling the economy with $1.6 trillion of revenues (Source: American Express State of Women Owned Businesses in 2016). WEB New Bedford seeks to capitalize on the national trend and encourage and foster a positive atmosphere for women-owned businesses in New Bedford.
WEB New Bedford will be offered to all women entrepreneurs and/or small business owners in New Bedford. A required pitch at the application phase will assist the team with identifying either potential or current business owners who meet the criteria and would benefit from the project. Participants who successfully complete the eligibility and program requirements may be eligible to receive up to $2,000 in seed funding for their business.
More information on the program including enrollment will be available in March 2018 by visiting the GNBWIB website gnbwib.org/webnewbedford. The program will officially kick off at the SouthCoast Chamber Women’s Forum in May. This project is funded through the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development (EOHED) Urban Agenda program.
Join the SouthCoast Chamber and Bristol County Chamber for a special cocktail hour and dinner reception with Governor Charlie Baker on April 10th at Whites of Westport. Since taking office, Governor Baker’s major objective has been to make Massachusetts a great place to live, work and raise a family while delivering a customer-service oriented state government that is as hard working as the people of the Commonwealth are. Governor Baker will discuss his current policies and future agenda that will directly influence the SouthCoast as a whole. This exciting event, sponsored by Southcoast Health, will begin at 5:00 pm and include a cocktail hour, dinner and networking opportunities. Individual Tickets are $65 for Chamber members and $75 for non-members. Corporate table sponsorships are also available.
Governor Charlie Baker was inaugurated as the 72nd Governor of Massachusetts on January 8, 2015. Upon taking office, Governor Baker worked to close two budget gaps worth more than $2 billion without raising taxes, while bolstering local aid for our schools and communities, investing in a more reliable public transportation system and prioritizing funds to fight the opioid and heroin epidemic.
Governor Baker has supported robust business sectors by reforming the Commonwealth’s regulatory environment, holding the line on taxes, and advancing efforts to rein in energy costs.
Ensuring Massachusetts continues to be a national leader in education, Governor Baker has invested over $4.6 billion in Chapter 70 education funding — the highest level of local education aid in state history.
Confronted with a devastating opioid and heroin epidemic, Governor Baker’s administration has implemented a plan focused on prevention, intervention, treatment and recovery support, including partnering with the legislature on passage of landmark legislation.
Met with a historic snowfall during his first winter in office that halted our beleaguered mass transit system, Governor Baker undertook a major overhaul to fix the MBTA by appointing a Fiscal and Management Control Board to oversee the system’s operations and finances, and prioritize investments in the core system that over one million daily riders depend upon.
Prior to his election, Governor Baker was a highly successful leader of complex business and government organizations, serving as a cabinet secretary to both Governor William Weld and Paul Cellucci, and leading Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, as CEO, from the brink of bankruptcy to one of the nation’s highest ranked health care providers.
Do not miss this unique opportunity to connect with Beacon Hill and learn what Governor Baker and his administration have in store for our region. For more information, contact Deven Robitaille, Programs and Events Manager by calling (508) 999- 5231 or REGISTER ONLINE HERE.
The SouthCoast Chamber is thrilled to have the opportunity to work with two college students to provide them with internships for the spring semester. Rebecca Laliberte, Communications Manager at the SouthCoast Chamber said “We are excited to welcome Gwladys and Matthew to our team for the Spring semester. They each bring different skills, which will be refined and strengthened, throughout their internship. We hope to help prepare them for their next step as they prepare to enter the workforce.” We asked Gwladys and Matthew to share a little bit about their background and to reflect on their first few weeks at the Chamber.
My name is Gwladys Ngatchou. I am currently enrolled as a General Study Mass/Trans student at Bristol Community College. Not really sure of my career choice, I decided to intern at SouthCoast Chamber of Commerce this semester to find my “why”. I have just been working here for a couple of weeks now, and I am beginning to love it. During this internship, I aspire to achieve three specific goals. I intend to work with Rebecca, Communication Manager, who will teach me how to write and publish a press release, an advertisement post, and a member spotlight. Deven Robitaille, our Program and Event Manager, and I will be working on how to plan an event. We will specifically focus on planning the “SouthCoast Women’s Forum” event that will take place in May, and I hope to learn a lot from her creative mind. My final goal aims at learning the value of membership and understanding why and how to make a business join the SouthCoast Chamber membership. This will be possible with the help of Ian Abreu, the SouthCoast Manager of Business Development and Public Policy. These goals seem a lot to be achieved considering the time I have to work at the Chamber, but the phenomenal Chamber crew and I will be able to achieve these goals through our hard work, dedication and their experience. This semester being my last, I hope to figure out my next step by the end of this internship.
As a senior at Fitchburg State University studying in the Communications Media field with a concentration in Professional Communications, I am required to do an internship that is 32-40 hours a week for the entire semester. In choosing my internship, my main priority was that it was close to home so I would not have to live on campus, which saved me money this semester. I also wanted something that would allow me to put my skills into practice and be able to learn new ones. So I went online to look for places that fit, the reason I chose the SouthCoast Chamber is because they work with different companies so I would get to do a lot of networking, as well as being able to do different tasks with the different departments including Communications, Membership, and Events and Programs. I thought it was a perfect fit after doing my interview and accepting the position I started on January 22nd and right from the start they had me doing various tasks within the different departments. I have done press releases for the communications department; I have been helping with the preparation of a few different events for the programs and events department. I have also been helping with the annual job fair by making phone calls to see if they wanted to register, and writing two 30-second radio commercials as well as making social media posts. I have made phone calls to members to get accurate information for the annual publication, to companies about being a part of the job fair, etc. Sitting in on the meetings to see the logistics and all of the little details that go into planning the events has been a valuable experience. I hope to continue to grow as a professional in the field and learn new skills as well as enhance the ones I already have.
Gwladys Ngatchou can be reached at [email protected] and Matthew Perez can be reached at [email protected] Employers interested in hosting interns are encouraged to attend the Chamber’s Friday Forum on April 6th, 8:30 am, at the Chamber office, presented by Bristol Community College.
The SouthCoast Chamber is pleased to bring Ashley Wojtunik on board as their new Member Relations Coordinator. Ashley comes to the Chamber with great knowledge of the local region. Born and raised in Acushnet, she loves all the history and small-town charm the South Coast has to offer. Ashley serves as a contributing writer for The Standard Times where she covers an array of local interest stories. Ashley also works for Townsquare Media/ Fun 107 on the Street Team and assists with on-location events. Both of these jobs have given Ashley an opportunity to interact with many members of local communities.
Ashley holds an Associate’s degree from Bristol Community College and is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, holding a BA in English with a concentration of writing/rhetoric/communications.
Ashley’s primary focus at the Chamber will be membership sales and retention. Her mission is to help other businesses grow and feel like they are part of a community that cares about supporting one another.
One of her various roles will be overseeing the “SouthCoast Business Builders Breakfast”. This breakfast networking mixer is new to the Chamber and Ashley is looking forward to further developing this event. She is very interested in becoming involved with other initiatives associated with the Chamber such as the Women’s Forum and the Junior Achievement program.
Rick Kidder, SouthCoast Chamber CEO, said, “We are thrilled to have Ashley join our team. Membership growth and retention, often tied to networking events and programs, is the key to growth in the Chamber world, and Ashley’s sparkling personality and skill set is a perfect match for the Chamber.”
Ashley is excited to learn more about the business community and to serve the Chamber’s members.
Ashley Wojtunik can be reached at 508-999-5231 ext: 108 or by email at [email protected]
by Matthew Perez, Intern
March is a busy month here at the chamber with the ten events we have going on. Come take part in the madness and have a great time! Click on the links to register or get more information.
“Tax Relief for Agents & Brokers” is a fast-paced presentation designed specifically for you and your group. Programs run from 30 minutes or until all questions are answered, and participants enjoy discounted pricing for Paul’s tax savings systems.
March 8th–State of the City Luncheon
Each year, the Mayor delivers the State of the City address detailing past accomplishments, goals, planned policies and objectives for the largest city in the region for the coming year. Nearly 500 business, community, media, and political leaders are expected to attend this luncheon program.
March 9th–International Seafood Buyers Tour
An annual event held in March to help showcase New Bedford’s waterfront and local seafood plants to international buyers and media participating in the International Boston Seafood Show. This educational tour gives the international buyers an inside look at how 21st-century computer technology and advanced processing equipment is producing a higher quality product than ever and shipping it fast almost anywhere on the planet. The goal is to generate increased and new business for New Bedford’s seafood industry.
March 12th–China Trip Information Session
Join the SouthCoast Chamber on a once in a lifetime travel experience on an all inclusive trip to China!
March 14th–SouthCoast Business Builders Breakfast
This event provides our members, guests and friends an early-morning opportunity to increase your access to leads, build your book of business, and to encourage the meaningful professional relationships.
March 15th– Business After Hours, Hampton Inn
This event provides our members, guests and friends an early-morning opportunity to increase your access to leads, build your book of business, and to encourage the meaningful professional relationships.
March 16th– Expand Your Business with Rev. Gail Hicks
Come and join us for a Friday Forum with a Spiritual Vibe! Let’s set our intentions our ideas to work in several methods to expand your business and boost your energy to move forward.
The SCYPN’s CEO Unplugged series is held quarterly and provides young professionals with an opportunity to connect with and learn from successful local CEOs. Aimed to be a source of inspiration and a wealth of knowledge, the CEOs share their personal experiences and journey to success with the participants in an informal, small group setting.
This edition of Good Morning SouthCoast! will focus on the State of the Business Community. Secretary of Housing and Economic Development for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the Honorable Jay Ash will be our featured keynote speaker and will discuss housing and community development, job creation, business development, consumer affairs, and business regulation
The Chamber’s Business After Hours provide an opportunity for members and non-members to mingle and build business relationships in an informal, relaxed business setting. These networking mixers are held on a monthly basis in partnership with member businesses and attract business professionals from many industries. The event includes complimentary hors d’oeuvres, cash bar, and a raffle prize.