Boston Herald

Chambers band together in new policy network

- By Lance Reynolds lreynolds@bostonhera­

Ten chambers of commerce across Massachuse­tts are banding together to better advocate for state businesses on Beacon Hill.

The Massachuse­tts Chambers of Commerce Policy Network will look to strengthen the economy and quality of life in the Bay State by addressing a wide array of issues plaguing businesses from taxes and revenue to transporta­tion.

Though the group has met just once, Jim Rooney, president and CEO of the Greater Boston Chamber, said its top priority is clear: making Massachuse­tts more competitiv­e in attracting and retaining a talented workforce.

“It feels like we have fallen into a little bit of a competitiv­e crisis,” Rooney told the Herald on Wednesday. “Other states have been aggressive­ly pursuing Massachuse­tts talent and Massachuse­tts businesses. The numbers speak for themselves.”

The Bay State lost roughly 110,000 working profession­als last year, leaving for other states, Rooney said. Speaking on a call from the RaleighDur­ham Internatio­nal Airport, he said he met this week with the president of the Raleigh Chamber, who told him 700 people are moving into North Carolina daily.

Before the creation of the policy network, Rooney said, Massachuse­tts had been one of the few remaining states across the country without a statewide chamber advocating for policies to benefit businesses.

“If the rest of the regions in the state are thriving, Boston wins by talent and businesses staying in Western Mass, north coast, south coast,” he said. “We need that collective energy around the strategy to go compete.”

The policy network includes chamber presidents and CEOs from Worcester, Springfiel­d, Cape Cod, South Shore, North Shore, South Coast, the Berkshires and metro Boston. Collective­ly, it represents about 10,000 member businesses and nonprofits, and millions of employees.

There are statewide business associatio­ns that represent different industries, but chambers of commerce “have their ear closest to the ground,” said Greg Reibman, president of the Charles River Regional Chamber, which serves Newton, Needham, Watertown and Wellesley.

With Gov. Maura Healey and her administra­tion being just two months into a “new era” of Beacon Hill politics, Reibman called it the right time for the chambers to band together.

“She has been saying all of the right things and recognizin­g these problems, making housing and competitiv­eness priorities,” he said of Healey. “I wish our lawmakers would move a little quicker than they traditiona­lly have and hope they will.”

 ?? SCREEN CAPTURE — BOSTON HERALD ?? Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce President Jim Rooney
SCREEN CAPTURE — BOSTON HERALD Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce President Jim Rooney

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