Senator Spilka Hosts Forum for MetroWest Business Community
Insight into Resources, Opportunities, and Services to Expand Business
(FRAMINGHAM) – On Monday, residents and business owners from across MetroWest attended a forum hosted by Senator Karen Spilka at the Sheridan Framingham Hotel and Conference Center to learn more about the assistance and opportunities available to help them start or expand their business in the region.
The forum included a networking breakfast, displays from local business organizations and chambers of commerce, and an informative panel discussion featuring presentations by Charles Grigsby, President of the Massachusetts Growth Capital Corporation, April Anderson Lamoureux, Assistant Secretary for Economic Development for the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development, and Paul Matthews, Executive Director of the 495/MetroWest Corridor Partnership.
During her opening remarks, Senator Spilka highlighted the Legislature’s recent work to propel the economy forward and support the business community and private sector, including the Economic Development Reorganization Law of 2010. Co-authored by Spilka and Senate President Therese Murray, this law provides easier access to a broader variety of tools to help businesses succeed while cutting through the bureaucracy and red tape. Also, the law provides additional support to small businesses, streamlines state government by eliminating or consolidating state agencies, and increases transparency by requiring regular management reviews and audits.
“This law revolutionized the way the state does business. By streamlining our approach to economic development, we ultimately helped create a more consistent and stable business environment, making it easier to do business here while ensuring Massachusetts maintains its competitive edge,” said Spilka.
Spilka also highlighted additional actions by the Legislature to address the issues and priorities of the business community, including the rising cost of health care and the cost of energy in the Commonwealth. While a great deal of progress has been made, Spilka said she remains dedicated to advocating for continued reforms and initiatives to support the state’s vibrant business community.
“Local and small businesses are the backbone of our economy and we must remain proactive in supporting these businesses to ensure continued economic development and job creation across the Commonwealth,” said Spilka. “This forum was a way to provide the MetroWest business community with information on how to access the important resources, tools, and opportunities available to help them grow and thrive.”
As President of the Massachusetts Growth Capital Corporation (MGCC), Charles Grigsby explained that he works to provide technical assistance and working capital for small businesses to help promote the creation and maintenance of jobs in Massachusetts. Established by the Economic Development Reform Law, MGCC provides a centralized resource at the state level that offers working capital, loan guarantees, and targeted technical assistance to solve specific financial and operational problems.
Grigsby discussed their efforts to support the small business community, including working with traditional financial institutions to make “un-bankable” loans bankable, working with community development corporations and other non-profits to provide financing for job-producing projects, and assisting a wide range of small businesses to find the growth capital they require.
During his presentation, Paul Matthews discussed the local organizations dedicated to assisting the business community, including the 495/MetroWest Corridor Partnership. The Partnership, through a unique public-private collaboration, leads the advancement of the 495/MetroWest region as a cohesive, competitive, and premier location for people, businesses, and communities. Matthews highlighted the work of other organizations, including the local chambers of commerce, the MetroWest/495 Transportation Management Association, the Manufacturing Extension Partnership, the MetroWest Tourism and Visitors Bureau, and local municipal planning departments.
April Anderson Lamoureux, recently named the State’s first Regulatory Ombudsman, discussed her work to promote a balanced and effective regulatory climate by helping develop the state’s first comprehensive regulatory reform agenda, to review of all existing regulations to study their effectiveness and impacts on business. The Economic Development Reform Bill mandated that this initial review be conducted within five years after the bill was signed into law. Following the initial review, additional reviews are to be conducted every 12 years.
The administration recently completed the first phase of the initial review, which included 200 different regulations, about 10 percent of the total regulations in state government. Out of those reviewed, 41 were eliminated immediately and 107 were targeted to be overhauled and updated. Anderson Lamoureux explained that by eliminating unnecessary regulations and consolidating others, they are working to eliminate barriers to economic growth and making Massachusetts a more business friendly state.
Each panelist stressed the importance of hearing input from the business community and that business owners should never hesitate to reach out for help or guidance. Additional topics covered included the permitting and licensing process and how to access assistance available at the federal, state, and local level.
“Senator Spilka has done all of us in her district a great service by convening state, regional, and local public and private economic development interests together in one place,” said Finley Perry, Founder and President of F.H. Perry Builders, Inc. “This kind of forum not only is informative, but enables us as well to know one another, know what each of us brings to the party, and know who to contact at each level when we have a question or issue to resolve. Hopkinton is open for business, and we are grateful to have Senator Spilka on our side.”
On top of running his own business, Perry, a Hopkinton resident, also serves as Chairman of Hopkinton 2020, a collaborative effort between the Town of Hopkinton and the Hopkinton Chamber of Commerce to attract new businesses and spur economic development in the community.
In addition to the panel, a number of local organizations and chambers of commerce were on display to showcase the resources and opportunities they provide to businesses throughout the region. Guests had time to network and connect with representatives from these groups and learn more about their work to support and propel the MetroWest business community and the economy.
“This forum was extremely valuable for our business community and a very positive meeting,” said Barry Feingold, President and CEO of the Milford Area Chamber of Commerce, one of the local organizations on display. “To have Senator Spilka be able to bring together so many people that can help our local businesses is very important as we go down this road to commercial recovery. It’s very refreshing to see a leader, like Senator Spilka, take an active role in helping small businesses grow and I look forward to attending more of these forums in the future.”
Other displays included the MetroWest Tourism and Visitors Bureau, the MetroWest Chamber of Commerce, the Marlborough Regional Chamber of Commerce, the United Regional Chamber of Commerce, the Franklin Downtown Partnership, the Framingham Downtown Renaissance, and the Hopkinton Chamber of Commerce.