Growth Concerns Are A Regional Matter
As originally appearing in The Worcester Business Journal

By James T. Brett

Over the past several years, our region and nation have faced great economic challenges. We are fortunate in New England to have weathered this period with less collateral damage than other parts of the country. Our unemployment rate continues to be below the national average, and there are many encouraging signs of growth. New England is a center of innovation, and home to strong financial services, health care, and education sectors.

As the only business organization focused on improving the overall economic health and quality of life in all six New England states, The New England Council is committed to working with our members and government leaders to advocate for public policy that promotes growth and supports our unique economy. The council believes that through the following five areas, we can bolster our region and continue on the path to recovery:

Encouraging strategic federal investment. The economies of the ew England states are tightly interconnected and we must promote regional economic development by encouraging greater interstate collaboration. Leaders in all six states must come together to collectively advocate for strategic federal investment in infrastructure systems, research and innovation networks, and educational resources that develop skills needed in the future workforce.

Growing economic capacity. The region’s business community should promote federal policies that encourage local business and manufacturing capabilities, particularly those that offer cross-regional economic development and jobs.

Advocating rational tax policy. The business community must work together to promote comprehensive federal tax policies that support the economy’s productive capacity, encourage job creation, and allow global competition.

Addressing Northeast energy costs. One of the biggest challenges for businesses large and small in New England is high energy costs. In the year ahead, the New England Council will work to promote federal energy policies that enhance energy availability, efficiency and reliability. At the same time, we must encourage policymakers to address the cost of gasoline, heating oil, natural gas and electricity by encouraging the development of both traditional and alternative energy sources.

Building future workers’ skills. Our region’s economic well-being depends on a skilled workforce. The business community must support federal education policies that help prepare our future workforce. This includes promoting core curricula in science, technology and math skills; ensuring access to job skill training programs; and encouraging partnerships between businesses and educational institutions. Business leaders should also strategize with state and local governments to develop ways to entice graduating students to remain in New England.

This may sound like a very ambitious agenda. However, we know that when the business community in New England advocates with one voice on important federal policy issues, we can achieve great success.

James T. Brett is president and CEO of The New England Council, a non-partisan alliance of businesses, academic and health institutions, and organizations that promote economic growth.

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