MBTA reform proposal divides business community

By Dan Adams

An MBTA employee worked on a Blue Line car this winter, when the transit agency experienced a service meltdown.
Governor Charlie Baker’s proposal to overhaul the beleaguered MBTA has proved divisive, and not just among politicians and transportation advocates. Business and industry groups are also lining up on opposite sides of the bill, in some cases pitting past allies against each other.

At a contentious legislative hearing this week, a coalition of about 25 prominent business groups testified in support of Baker’s measure, demanding “aggressive steps” to fix the public transit system. The coalition, spearheaded by the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce , says it represents the majority of Massachusetts companies and includes such heavyweights as the Massachusetts High Technology Council .

But another coalition of business groups, led by A Better City, testified against Baker’s bill, saying it slashes needed funding and adds red tape. Some of its members stood side-by-side with the chamber as recently as last fall, when they campaigned against a ballot initiative that ended the link between increases in the gasoline tax and the consumer price index. Continue reading

Trade bill puts Warren at odds with state’s tech sector

By Jessica Meyers

WASHINGTON — The Capitol loomed behind Senator Elizabeth Warren last week as she raised her fist to a crowd of union workers and promised to fight against one of the world’s most expansive trade deals.

The cheers by labor and environmental groups in Washington were met with silence by companies back in Massachusetts, where the state’s thriving life science and tech sectors consider the trade pact critical to the region’s economic prosperity.

This disconnect pits Warren and some in the Democratic delegation against the state’s key business groups as lawmakers consider legislation that would propel the deal forward.

“This [trade pact] is a huge opportunity not to be missed,” said Christopher Anderson, president of the Massachusetts High Technology Council. Continue reading

EMC to face critics who worry it’s stagnating

By Jay Fitzgerald

EMC Corp., the largest technology company in Massachusetts, thinks Wall Street doesn’t understand it.

So on Tuesday, the Hopkinton company — known best for its data-storage business, it employs 68,000 people worldwide and reaps $24 billion in annual revenue — will hold a strategy summit in New York City. EMC hopes to convince analysts, investors, and others it really is on the right track.

Most of its top executives, including longtime chief executive Joseph Tucci, will be present to share information, review strategic options, answer questions, and listen to ideas and criticisms.

But chances are the summit won’t change many minds. Increasingly, critics say EMC has become a stagnant goliath that isn’t doing enough to pump up its share value and articulate a long-term vision for the 36-year-old company. Continue reading

Baker considers merger of tech, biotech, energy agencies

By Robert Weisman and Priyanka Dayal McCluskey

The Baker administration is considering a plan to merge the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center with quasi-public agencies that support the clean energy and high-tech industries.

Jay Ash, the state’s new housing and economic development secretary, said state officials have been talking to business groups about possibly consolidating the agencies.

“It’s being discussed,” Ash said. “We’re looking at ways to better coordinate our services. Everything’s on the table for economic development. But there’s no proposal.” Continue reading

High-tech council creates data dashboard to keep state on right road

By Jordan Graham

A top tech industry group unveiled a new tool to compare Massachusetts to other states yesterday as Gov. Charlie Baker said the state needs to solidify its position as a high tech leader by working harder to be more competitive and lowering the cost to do business.

“The goal here is to strengthen the areas we have a national lead in, and rectify or improve the areas we can now see a disadvantage,” said Chris Anderson, president of the Massachusetts High Technology Council. “This is actually going to be very helpful for not only keeping track of what our peer states are doing, but informing our decisions.” Continue reading

New online data analytics tool will show how Mass. ranks in talent, competitiveness

By Sara Castellanos

A new online data analytics tool being unveiled this week by the Massachusetts High Technology Council will show how the state measures up against other states in key areas including talent and business competitiveness.

The project, called Massachusetts Technology, Talent and Economic Reporting System (MATTERS), has been in the works for about a year, according to Mark Gallagher, executive vice president of Mass. High Tech Council’s Public Policy and Communications division.

The MATTERS tool will have its own website and will contain more than 30 different metrics including tax policy, cost, talent supply and demand, from various databases, indices and sources.

“The purpose here is to make this data actionable and to use the data to identify where Massachusetts is performing well or not performing well,” Gallagher said in an interview. Continue reading

Baker prepping measures as rival states eye tech jobs

By Matt Murphy

NEWTON, MASS., FEB. 25, 2015…..Gov. Charlie Baker warned the state’s high-tech executives on Wednesday that their edge in the national economy is under attack from other states, hinting that he will put forward ideas soon to help ensure a strong supply of workforce talent to keep their businesses growing.

Baker returned to Massachusetts this week after spending the weekend in Washington D.C. at the National Governors Association winter meeting where he dined at the White House on Sunday night at a table with President Barack Obama, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper and Indiana Gov. Mike Pence.

“Colorado is coming on and coming on strong,” Baker told a banquet hall full of executives at the annual meeting of the Massachusetts High Technology Council at the Newton Marriott. “I saw Governor Hickenlooper from Colorado when I was at the NGA meeting and he couldn’t help but make this point to me many, many times over the course of several days. I need a really good rejoinder on that one, folks.” Continue reading

WPI data tool to measure Mass. tech strength

By Emily Micucci

Worcester Polytechnic Institute announced the development of a new system to help evaluate Massachusetts’ competitive position among leading technology states.

Known as Massachusetts’ Technology, Talents and Economic Reporting Systems (MATTERS), the system was developed by WPI students and faculty in collaboration with the Massachusetts High Technology Council, an advocacy group. It provides corporations with critical information regarding expansion, as well as essential data for developing public policy that attracts and retains business.

“This reporting dashboard makes important data accessible to those who need it. It also demonstrates the impact that our faculty and students can have on the state’s competitiveness, especially in the technology sector,” Stephen Flavin, vice president of academic and corporate development at WPI, and a member of the Massachusetts High Tech Council, said in a statement Wednesday.

MATTERS allows users to compare technology strengths between states. For example, they can look at how Massachusetts and New York stack up on talent, cost and economy metics, as well as national rankings on tax climate and technology indexes. The tool can be accessed online here.

Business Leaders patient as snow, red ink occupy Baker

Baker-Polito Administration Announces Plan to Close Fiscal Year 2015 Budget Gap

Solution protects local aid, avoids tax hikes and any draw from the Stabilization Fund

By Governor of Massachusetts – Press Office

BOSTON – Governor Charlie Baker and Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito today announced a series of proposals to close the Fiscal Year 15 (FY 15) budget gap recently identified by the Administration. The fixes include a combination of the Governor’s 9C authority to adjust Executive Branch spending, as well as legislation for additional spending reductions, non-tax revenue adjustments, and other one-time fixes.

As originally promised, the plan announced today does not raise taxes, cut local aid, or draw down on the state’s Stabilization Fund. The total budget imbalance addressed for FY 15 was adjusted slightly, from $765 million to $768 million due to updated tax data and other factors such as last week’s winter storm. After today’s proposal, spending for FY 15 is still a 7.7% increase over FY 14. Continue reading