Thank You Governor Patrick

Deval_PatrickAfter eight years of leadership, later today Governor Patrick will take the Lone Walk and return to the private sector. In addition to the fact that during the past 100 years only one other governor of Massachusetts (Dukakis) has served the Commonwealth for eight uninterrupted years, Governor Patrick leaves behind a long list of accomplishments that have made Massachusetts a better place to live and work.

The Governor was one of the best salesmen/spokesmen for the Commonwealth that we have had in recent history. He traveled across the state and to numerous countries on trade missions. Having joined him on the mission to Israel, I can personally attest to the positive reactions he received from countless encounters with political leaders and business representatives. Many business partnerships have resulted from these missions and we have never seen such a spike in direct flights to and from Boston and many global markets.

The Patrick Administration supported business growth, with a particular focus on the life sciences and renewable energy sectors. This resulted in a substantial surge in employment growth, making Massachusetts a national leader in these emerging fields.

Governor Patrick also oversaw one of the first top-to-bottom regulatory reevaluations for all state agencies. Nearly 2,000 regulations were reviewed to determine which regulations should be rescinded or modified. In addition to this review, a system was put into place requiring that draft regulations go through an extensive vetting process and review by A&F, the Regulatory Ombudsman, and lastly, the Governor. As a result, MassDEP led the way on regulatory reform by establishing a target list of 21 different reforms within the Department. Most of these resulted in regulatory changes that will make a substantial improvement on the cost and time for the regulated community, without diminishing environmental protection.

While Governor Patrick worked to ensure government operated at “the speed of business,” he also never lost sight of the fact that he represented all of the citizens of the Commonwealth. People mattered to him and he learned from their stories. Their experiences shaped his leadership and policy priorities. Today’s column in The Boston Globe by Shirley Leung is a perfect example of this.

So, after eight years, we thank you Governor Patrick for your unwavering commitment to the people of Massachusetts and we wish you all the best in whatever the future may hold.

Climate Change Preparedness: Commonwealth’s Investment an Important Step in Collaborative Process

DB_testimonyAt Governor Patrick’s press conference today at the New England Aquarium, he announced  Climate Change Preparedness Initiatives funded by a $50 million state investment. Following Mayor Marty Walsh and Secretary Rick Sullivan, I spoke at the event representing the business community.

Climate change can have significant impacts affecting the overall economy; directly, by damaging structures, and indirectly, by compromising transportation systems, communications, and utilities.  There is no question that an increasing number of extreme weather events combined with future sea level rise require local and state agencies, building owners, lenders, insurance underwriters, and tenants to consider how to prepare for and respond to such events.

The business community believes that preparing for storm related events should be a shared responsibility between the public and private sectors. A primary role for city and state governments should be to ensure the continuity and protection of public infrastructure and public safety.  Stakeholders should be at the table with state and local decision makers early on in the process to prioritize short-term and long-term public and private responses. The business community, and the community at large, need to have a clear understanding of the government’s responsibilities for infrastructure and critical services.

Especially with New York City’s experience with Hurricane Sandy, we feel that Best Management Practices developed in other cities should be shared among public and private sector stakeholders, and their applicability to the Commonwealth should be carefully considered.

Finally, both costs and risks need to be evaluated when the public and private sectors consider climate change-related investments and improvement. With scarce resources, there will need to be a balance of adequate planning and a risk-based, cost-benefit analysis in order that funds are prudently expended.

Along with other business groups, we look forward to a true collaboration with state and local governments to safeguard all our valued resources.

Economic Development Strategies for Patrick’s Second Term

Governor Deval Patrick

Governor Deval Patrick

Kudos to Governor Patrick for his focus on jobs and economic development for his second term. Travelling within the Commonwealth, across the country, and globally to attract economic development to the state can be an effective way to market the benefits of one of the top concentrations of skilled talent in the world.

In addition, opportunities for improving the Commonwealth’s economic environment exist here at home. Recently, John Schneider wrote in MassINC’s “INCSPOT blog” about three suggestions for the Administration:

  1. Conduct a top to bottom review of regulations that affect the state’s business environment.
  2. Make higher education reform a cornerstone of your second term.
  3. Get a handle on rising costs, especially health care, energy, and local government.

I completely agree with these ideas, especially regarding the cost of doing business in the Commonwealth. Many of us know about the direct costs: taxes, fees, health care and unemployment insurance. However, the cost in both time and money that arise from the multiple layers of regulations for existing businesses are an enormous burden and make us less competitive for new growth.

We should encourage our political leaders to get out of the office and aggressively market Massachusetts, but at the same time, we need to do a top-to-bottom assessment of the rules we impose on business. The better we do on the latter, the more success we will have attracting businesses to Massachusetts.