Trump Moves to Limit Visa Program for Tech Workers

By Curt Woodward

““I’d hope that the further review of the system will lead to an increase in the number of such visas, as the demand is exponentially higher than the government-imposed limit,” said Christopher R. Anderson, president of the Massachusetts High Technology Council.”

Returning to his campaign pledge to protect American workers, President Trump signed an executive order on Tuesday that could reduce the supply of entry-level foreign workers that many companies say they need to fill technical jobs.

Employers and immigration experts reacted warily to Trump’s order, praising some efforts at overhauling the technology industry’s favorite guest-worker program while worrying that the administration’s reforms could harm employers that use it fairly.

Trump’s action directs four federal agencies to propose reforms to the H-1B visa program, which lets employers hire skilled overseas workers to fill jobs in the United States. It also underscores previously announced plans by federal officials to crack down on abuse and fraud in the system. Continue reading

Baker, Business Leaders are at Odds on Health Care

By Jon Chesto

As the former head of Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, Governor Baker (above) has been seen as friendly to businesses. But as a result of the soaring expense of MassHealth, last month he unveiled a proposal to penalize companies that don’t offer workers adequate health insurance.

“Christopher Anderson, president of the Massachusetts High Technology Council, warns that an assessment could send the wrong message to businesses considering moving to Massachusetts or expanding their operations here.

“We run the risk through a whole series of new developments to return closer and closer to the ‘Taxachusetts’ moniker that we’ve worked so hard to minimize over the last 10 years,” Anderson said.”

Governor Charlie Baker became one of the business community’s biggest allies on Beacon Hill the moment he moved into the State House two years ago. As the former head of Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, he knows what executives want out of government — as little interference as possible, and definitely no new expensive mandates. Continue reading

Tech Sector Bracing for Next Move from Trump, on Worker Visas

By Curt Woodward

Already roiled by President Trump’s immigration crackdown, high-tech employers are bracing for a more direct disruption of their business as the administration considers major changes to a visa program that supplies tens of thousands of skilled workers each year.

Changes to the visa program in question, known as H-1B, probably won’t inspire the waves of protest that greeted Trump’s ban on refugees from seven Muslim-majority countries.  In fact, criticism of the visa program has come from both parties, with some Democrats advocating changes that could raise workers’ wages.

On Monday, the White House acknowledged reports it was considering an executive order to alter the H-1B program, in part to prioritize giving jobs to American workers, with spokesman Sean Spicer saying the possible order was “part of a larger immigration effort,” according to USA Today.

Taken together, the developments are “fanning the flames of fear among the legal immigration community,” said Christopher Anderson, president of the Massachusetts High Technology Council, which has argued for fewer restrictions on H1-B visas.

“We benefit from attracting the best and the brightest to Massachusetts, and we do not want to see any policy that hinders our ability to attract the best talent and be a leading job creator,” Anderson said. “It would appear that the new administration is going to have to take a crash course in unintended consequences if it is going to be successful.” Continue reading

Mass. Tech Council Leader Wary Of Losing H-1B Visa Holders — But Not Alarmed By Trump’s Travel Ban (WBUR 5:57)

By Bob Oakes and Yasmin Amer

Massachusetts tech companies are among those in the industry watching President Trump’s immigration policies very closely. Many are worried that his next move will target worker visas known as H-1B.

Some tech companies — including ones here in Massachusetts — depend on those visas to be able to hire foreign talent.

Chris Anderson, president of the Massachusetts High Technology Council, joined Morning Edition to discuss these concerns.

Click here to listen to this WBUR Morning Edition segment.

 

Warren and McCain Could Be Unlikely Allies on Armed Services

By Jacqueline Klimas

Sen. Elizabeth Warren could become an unlikely ally to Republicans on the Senate Armed Services Committee looking to hold the Pentagon accountable and cut waste and fraud, experts said.

The Massachusetts Democrat announced Wednesday night that she would serve on the committee beginning in January, touting her family’s history of military service and her commitment to oversight of the military.

If Warren brings the accountability she previously thrust on banks and Wall Street to the Pentagon, she could find herself with some unexpected bedfellows, said Christopher Anderson, the president of the Massachusetts High Technology Council.

“It’s an interesting likelihood that in the pursuit of more effective and transparent government spending, she may become an ally with Sen. [John] McCain,” he said. Continue reading

Warren Raises Foreign Policy Profile with Armed Services Assignment

By Victoria McGrane

“Christopher Anderson, president of the Massachusetts High Technology Council, an advocacy group that heavily lobbies the Armed Services Committee, said in an interview he believes Warren’s appointment is a big opportunity for her personally and for the state’s economy at large.

“There’s an opportunity for Senator Warren to gain insight in technology and innovation in Massachusetts and apply those solutions in a meaningful way through defense contracts and in defense spending,” he said.”

Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren has landed a spot on the Senate Armed Services Committee, a high-profile perch on one of the chamber’s most powerful committees that will allow the former law professor to burnish her foreign policy credentials.

The posting, which Warren sought and will take effect when a new Congress convenes next year, adds a new set of issues to Warren’s portfolio and promises to fuel speculation about a possible 2020 bid for president. The liberal firebrand — who is best known for dressing down Wall Street CEOs and pushing for ways to bolster the economic health of the middle class — will now be getting elbows deep in debates about defense spending, Russian cyberattacks, and deployment of the nation’s military around the world. Continue reading

Exporting is Expected to Get Tougher Under a Trump Presidency

By Jon Chesto

“Christopher Anderson, president of the Massachusetts High Technology Council, said a Trump presidency could bring some positives to the business community that outweigh the concerns about trade constraints. Most notably, Anderson expects Trump and a Republican-led Congress to reduce the federal corporate tax rate and to find ways to curb government regulations.

“I’m less fearful than I am hopeful that there will be some positive correction to economic barriers,” Anderson said.”

Donald Trump’s pledge to build a wall along the Mexican border took center stage in his campaign. But corporate executives worry about a different kind of barrier that the new president-elect would impose, one that could make it more challenging to do business with overseas markets.

Trump repeatedly trashed a Pacific Rim trade deal that’s still in the works, known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, all but assuring that the deal is now dead. He also threatened to exit or renegotiate NAFTA, the accord established in the mid-1990s with Canada and Mexico. And he opposes the Export-Import Bank, a government agency that helps US manufacturers sell their goods to overseas buyers. Continue reading

Boston Business Leaders React after Trump Election Victory

By STAFF, Government & Regulationscranderson_portrait_webready_11102016

Chris Anderson, president of the Massachusetts High Technology Council

“My first reaction is that it is way premature for anybody to effectively predict positively or negatively what a Trump administration will mean for the national or the state economy.  I think the results last night bear out the inability to predict exactly what this administration will mean…I would say there’s a high degree of interest in how his campaign rhetoric will translate into policy initiatives.”

With Mass. Jobless Rate at 3.6%, Workers are Gaining Clout

By Deidre Fernandes

“On Thursday, the Massachusetts High Technology Council released a survey of 60 executives that found nearly all of them felt the business environment in the state was holding steady or improving.

“They say, ‘This is a good place for me to be,’ ” said Mark Gallagher, executive vice president of the council.

But Gallagher, Steinberg, and other employers said they are starting to experience the flip side of a booming economy and a tight labor market: the struggle to fill jobs.

“It’s a good thing for the economy, it’s a good thing for employees, but it’s a challenge for employers,” Gallagher said. “It is a business war for talent.””

Unemployment in Massachusetts fell to a jaw-dropping 3.6 percent in September, the lowest in more than 15 years, leaving little doubt the state has recovered from the Great Recession and its economy is steaming ahead.

Massachusetts employers have added 63,800 jobs this year, helping to drive the unemployment rate down 1.2 percentage points since September 2015, the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development reported Thursday. Continue reading

Altering Focus to What Matters at Tech Companies

By Colin A. Young

“”We’re hearing directly from business leaders Massachusetts’ advantages — like our best-in-the-nation talent pool — can be offset by other more challenging factors including the high costs of doing business and the need to improve our transportation systems,” Christopher Anderson, president of the Mass. High Tech Council, said in a statement.”

Most Massachusetts technology executives view the state as a good place to do business with a business environment that is steady or improving, but the cost of doing business and transportation issues continue to pose risks for future growth, a new survey from the Massachusetts High Technology Council found.

The council’s inaugural Executive Competitiveness Insight Survey, conducted by KPMG in September, found 72 percent of executives surveyed rated Massachusetts as a good or excellent place to do business, and 90 percent said they feel the local business environment is “holding steady or improving.” Continue reading