As the largest accounting, tax and business advisory firm in New England, we at BlumShapiro have a vested interest in the state of the region’s business community. My colleague Mo Haque recently explored the cost of doing business in New England. Andrew Lattimer, a partner in BlumShapiro’s Connecticut office, took a look at the tax benefits enjoyed by New England-based businesses.
This article will continue our “Doing Business in New England” series and focus on local policies, initiatives and built-in regional strengths that give local businesses a competitive edge, simply for doing business in New England.
New England’s competitive advantage starts with its possession of the country’s deepest pool of homegrown talent. The region is home to some of the best academic institutions in the country, and its success in growing its base of college graduates is consistent across all six states.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Massachusetts has the highest percentage of residents who have earned a bachelor’s degree or higher. Connecticut (#4), Vermont (#8) and New Hampshire (#9) join Massachusetts in the top 10, and Rhode Island (#14) and Maine (#25), come in above the national average.
Of course, having access to qualified, ready-to-work talent is meaningless unless there are jobs for those candidates to fill. As a result, the challenge for the New England business community is to ensure the local pool of talent stays in the area. That’s where policymakers come in.
Fortunately, the region’s elected officials, business leaders and other policymakers seem to fully understand this competitive advantage. From workforce training grants that encourage existing businesses to expand and create jobs to apprenticeship and internship programs that help new employees gain valuable professional skills early in their careers, policymakers at both state and municipal levels are actively taking steps to support the region’s business community.
In Massachusetts, Gov. Baker campaigned on the promise of creating new jobs, and-two years into his first term-he is fulfilling that promise. In 2015, Gov. Baker’s administration awarded more than $10.4 million in workforce training grants, helping nearly 200 local businesses create customized training programs for their employees.
Programs like Massachusetts’ Workforce Training Fund can be seen across the region. Rhode Island and Connecticut both offer Apprenticeship Programs, which encourage local businesses to offer on-the-job training and classroom instruction to help employees learn practical and theoretical aspects of highly skilled occupations. In New Hampshire, the program is called the New Hampshire Job Training Fund.
Regardless of the name, location and whether it’s funded by the taxpayers, an industry group or a business-minded foundation, all of these programs share the same goal: creating jobs and boosting business in New England.
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