Small Business Has A Big Week On Beacon Hill

Posted by Spencer Matthews

Late Wednesday evening House Members passed a highly anticipated and comprehensive jobs package with several provisions that will significantly impact the small business community in Massachusetts. The bill could not have come at a more poignant time as Beacon Hill Leaders gathered Wednesday morning to celebrate and recognize the important contributions of small business owners and entrepreneurs across the Commonwealth. The event, a small business resource fair, was the highlight of the first ever State House Small Business Week organized by the Chairs of the Joint Committee on Community Development and Small Business, Senator Sal DiDomenico and Representative Linda Dorcena Forry. More than 40 federal, state, and nonprofit providers as well as small business associations gathered in the Great Hall of the State House, meeting face to face with small business owners, entrepreneurs and legislators and sharing information about their offerings. Governor Deval Patrick, Treasurer Steve Grossman, Senate President Therese Murray and Speaker Robert DeLeo were also on hand to describe the important initiatives and programs they have pushed to improve the business climate in the Bay state.

“Small businesses are the backbone of our local economy here in Massachusetts, representing nearly 585,000 firms and employing more than 50% of the workforce,” stated Chair Forry. “So it is quite fitting that we should pass such a comprehensive economic development bill during this of all weeks.” Forry continued “What we have here is a bill that provides tailored and efficient solutions to some of the most pressing needs of small businesses and community developers in the Commonwealth. It really takes into account the knowledge we gained on our committee’s statewide listening tours and offers smart solutions to tackle the top concerns small businesses and community developers shared with us.”

The several key components that particularly address small business concerns and the top priorities of the Committee and advocates include:

One-Stop-Shop Small Business Resource Web Portal

First, the legislation calls for the creation of a web portal specifically designed to provide small businesses with an inclusive list of resources available throughout the state to assist them. Of the proposal, Rep. Forry said, “providing a one-stop-shop for small business owners informing them of opportunities to get technical and financial assistance is critical to any locally driven economic growth plan. Currently, the state has no such site and we found this was a significant barrier for busy small business owners as they look to expand or improve the efficiency of their business.” The bill would charge the Massachusetts Office of Business Development with the task of developing the site in collaboration with the Office of Small Business and Entrepreneurship and other relevant state agencies.

Community Developers’ Tax Credit

The legislation also calls for a tax credit program designed to enable community development corporations to leverage private funds and enhance long-term strategic planning in neighborhoods across the Commonwealth. “CDCs are critical drivers of local economic development in some of the most challenging parts of our state,” stated Rep. Forry. “They are doing amazing work, but during every visit along our tour we learned of stop-and-start funding streams that inhibit CDCs from completing long term projects. Partnering with CDCs to encourage local investment, allowing them to carry out community-supported strategies is exactly the type of tailored and efficient economic plan we should support.” Rep. Forry filed legislation to establish the Community Development Partnership Program along with her Co-chair, Senator Sal DiDomenico, early last year. The legislation was consistently sited as by CDCs as their top policy priority on the Joint Committee’s Statewide Community Development Listening Tour in the fall of 2011.

Improving Access to, Responsiveness of State Small Business Loan Review Boards

Finally, the legislation would strengthen current statute by improving the responsiveness and accessibility of the state’s small business loan review boards. Currently, the state has 4 regional loan review boards, overseen by the Division of Banks. The boards are charged with assessing complaints regarding loan denials submitted by small business applicants. With limited legislative direction, the review boards meet seldomly and have no legal requirement to report their findings either to the small businesses in question or state officials. The legislation, therefore, requires the boards to reply to applicants within thirty days of receiving their complaint. It would also ensure patterns in irregular loan denials would be reported annually to the Commissioner of Banks. “This is a common sense way for government to improve the business climate here in the Commonwealth,” commented Rep. Forry. “Access to capital is often the biggest challenge facing small businesses, so it is important that the loan review process is quicker and more responsive to small businesses in need of financing.”

In addition to these critical components, the proposed economic jobs package included several other articles beneficial to the community development and small business communities across the Commonwealth. Useful aspects include a Talent Pipeline Program, a Massachusetts Creative Economy Network and a new requirement that PRIM invest at least $100M in institutions that make capital available to small businesses. For more information on the potential impact of the bill on small business and community development in Massachusetts, a copy of the Committee’s most recent tour report, or updates on State House Small Business Week 2012 events contact Stephanie Keller at [email protected]

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Posted by Spencer Matthews on May 24 2012. Filed under Business, Featured - For home page featured article. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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