State Legislators Address Local Business Leaders
Rep. Kuros & Sen. Moore addressed business leaders at a recent BBA meeting.
BBA President John Orthmann introduced Senator Moore first, noting that the senator, now in his ninth term, was named Senate President Pro Tempore in early 2013, and that he’d worked for FEMA during the Clinton administration.
Moore noted that, in honor of National Small Business Week, he had visited several businesses throughout his district. “They may be small businesses, but they have a big impact locally.”
He indicated that state government wants to help businesses survive and thrive and pointed out that manufacturing activity is actually increasing in Massachusetts and that there is a need for a replacement work force because so many manufacturing employees are nearing retirement age. “Manufacturing work has a bad image, like it isn’t as desirable as ‘college jobs,’” he said, “but the reality doesn’t match that image. They are good-paying jobs in clean, pleasant work environments.”
Moore said he likes attending BBA meetings because it helps him get a grasp of what businesses need so that he can try to help match the business with the right programs, grants, financing, etc., whenever he can. “Sometimes just knowing what you do helps us help out, even if it’s just in making the right connections,” he said.
He spoke about the transportation bond issue, indicating that the Rte. 495/126 interchange has been approved, and now has to get on to the Transportation Improvement Plan (TIP) for funding. This will greatly alleviate the traffic congestion on Hartford Avenue, which, not coincidentally, has one of the highest accident rates in the state. The end result will be similar to the new bridge configuration in Franklin at the Rte. 140 exit. According to Moore, since the developer, S.R. Weiner, is donating the land for the interchange, the state’s investment will be recouped within just 2 to 3 years.
Orthmann next introduced State Representative Kevin Kuros, noting that he is in his second term and serving on committees such as Economic Development and Elder Affairs. Kuros started with a quick story that tied in with Hollman’s Easy Walks book. His dog went missing and was later found on the SNETT in Uxbridge. “I was glad to see that Marjorie’s book designates the trail as pet friendly,” he said.
Kuros spoke of his experience as a business consultant, noting that he has a good grasp of the trials and tribulations of running a small business. A previous employer described running his small business as “a plane that is designed to fly at 200 mph flying at 400 mph--the wings are shaky, but that’s what makes it exciting.”
He reported that Lampen Corp., a manufacturing company that needed to upscale its machinist education and training in order to bid on higher tech jobs, was awarded a workforce training grant by the state.
He praised IPG Photonics of Oxford, which found a unique way to use fiber optics in laser technology; their innovation has propelled them onto the world stage, positioning them, in his estimation, to become a billion-dollar business. He explained that the Chinese are famous for “reverse engineering”--they’ll break something down to learn how it was built so that they can then produce the same product, only more cheaply. Not the case with IPG: “They came up with a very clever way to prevent this--they coat their PC boards with epoxy. If they [the Chinese] try to remove the epoxy, they’ll destroy the board.
“The problem was that IPG desperately needed to expand its facility. Someone came up with the idea of connecting IPG to the sewerage line two towns over to free up land for IPG expansion. It was a lesson in collaboration: the town of Oxford paid for a feasibility study; when the study came back positive, the businesses along the proposed sewerage extension all chipped in for a more extensive plan. The state then spent $5.5 million to fund the project. The payback? IPG and its roughly 350 employees, making an average $70,000 a year, remained doing business in Massachusetts, rather than moving with the whole company to a Connecticut town just 10 minutes away that was offering them all kinds of incentives to relocate there.”
Kuros asked for Moore’s support for his budget amendment that proposes funding for a commission to study offering a tax credit to medical device companies in the state to help offset the 2.5 percent tax that they are being assessed as part of the Affordable Care Act.
Both men briefly discussed the EPA’s controversial stormwater run-off program, as well as their more recent plan to change water-supply requirements, a plan that, according to a letter Senator Moore received from Bellingham DPW Director Don DiMartino, would be ill-advised and very costly. The general consensus: the EPA should not issue regulations without proper economic-impact studies that assess the cost vs. the environmental benefits--benefits that are questionable for both of these regulations.
As the meeting drew to a conclusion, Rep. Kuros shared a bit of advice for his constituents that Senator Moore agreed with: “If you really want to get our attention, don’t sign on to one of these bulk emails that all say exactly the same thing because after a while it all becomes white noise to us. If you want to use some of their text, that’s fine, but at least change the subject line, and, better yet, tell us what that issue really means to you—how it affects you personally—why you care.”
As people were beginning to file out, John Orthmann announced that the organization’s last meeting before their summer hiatus will be held on June 18 at Lowell’s Restaurant. He asked that attendees bring a non-perishable item for the local food pantry, For more information on the BBA, visit www.BellinghamBusinessAssociation,org, or email Secretary/Treasurer Sue Grady at contact@ BellinghamBusinessAssociation.org.
For some interesting information on Small Business Week and how Massachusetts rates compared to other states, read Senator Moore's "Guest Commentary: Saluting Our Local Small Businesses 2014."
story & photo by Pamela Johnson, BULLETIN Publisher