The Cost of Doing Business in MassachusettsApril 03, 2017
By Alan T. Huberman, CPA, MST
Elected officials, policymakers and business leaders in Massachusetts all have the same general goal when it comes to business development. They each want to look for new ways to make Massachusetts a more business-friendly environment, positioning the state as an attractive place for companies to set up shop, create jobs and contribute to the local economy.
Business leaders look at a number of factors when they decide where to launch, expand or move their companies. They want to be located in areas already home to their potential employees. They want to join communities that can offer their workforce and management groups the quality of life they desire. Finally, they want to work in an affordable location to operate to their maximum levels of efficiency.
Like any New England state, the average cost of living in Massachusetts is higher than the national average, and—in many cases—the cost of living in a particular state or region can drive up the cost of doing business.
However, the Bay State also has plenty of positive attributes that make it an attractive place to do business. These factors, most notably the state’s excellent school system, nationally renowned higher education institutions, prominent communities and business-friendly workforce development policies, help ensure the benefits of doing business in Massachusetts outweigh the costs.
From a quality of life perspective, Massachusetts’ school system, communities and an ingrained sense of culture and history make Massachusetts an interesting, unique and desirable place to live. For local businesses, that high quality of life factor can be used as a selling point to attract new employees—or retain the ones you already have. Plus, the state’s high volume of higher education institutions gives Massachusetts an extraordinarily deep pool of college-educated talent. Knowing this, Massachusetts business leaders can feel comfortable that their next group of employees can be found without a national search.
Finally, from a business and workforce development angle, policymakers and elected leaders across the state are committed to supporting the local business community. In addition to investing in a number of workforce development initiatives that incentivize local businesses to expand in the state, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker is also making an active effort to help businesses “cut through red tape.” During his State of the Commonwealth address in early February, Gov. Baker said that his administration was in the process of reviewing “thousands of pages of outdated regulations” in an effort to make it easier for local businesses to grow and create new jobs for Massachusetts residents.
As evidenced by the state’s unemployment rate continuing to trend well below the national average and big economic development wins like General Electric moving its headquarters to downtown Boston, the Massachusetts business community is strong, despite its challenges.
Cost will always be an issue for companies considering Massachusetts—or any other state across the country—as a destination to do business. It will also always be an issue for existing local businesses who are hoping to stay here—and potentially expand. Fortunately for Massachusetts-based businesses, the state offers enough benefits that, together, outweigh the costs.
As long as the state’s business leaders continue to work with elected leaders and policymakers to craft smart, innovative policies that make it easier, more streamlined and more efficient to do business in Massachusetts, the business community will continue to thrive.
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