125 years ago today, January 4th, 1894, a group of businessmen (it was 1894) rang in the new year by creating the Norwood Business Association. The initial purpose of the group was to attract business to the young and growing town of Norwood. Much of the NBA's early work focused on improving the infrastructure of the community. The organization advocated for things like electric lights, electric rail service, concrete sidewalks and streets; all vital to attracting business. 125 years later we still serve as an advocate for improved infrastructure and amenities that make our communities desirable locations for businesses.
The NBA's first President was George S. Winslow, owner of Winslow and SonsTannery on Endicott Street in Norwood (now the Norwood Commerce Center and home to Winsmith Mill Market). Two of the Chamber's original members are still members today; Norwood Bank and Certainteed (formerly Bird and Son). In 1926 the organization was renamed the Norwood Chamber of Commerce and in 1988 it became the Neponset Valley Chamber of Commerce recognizing that its membership was much more regional than in the early years. In 1980 Elberta M. Lydstone was elected the Chamber's first women President.
There is much more to the Chamber's rich history and you'll be hearing more about it throughout the year. We will begin a year-long celebration with our 125th Annual Meeting on January 31st. We will introduce our new board and officers as well present our Annual Awards to deserving members. In addition, we will be making a big announcement about our future as we look forward to our next 125 years. We hope you will join us for an exciting evening. Register Here.
Meanwhile, our 125th Anniversary Committee is putting together plans for a celebration in September that will feature an historical perspective of the Chamber with support from our local historical societies and graphic design students from Blue Hills Technical High School. It promises to be the highlight of 2019.
Best wishes for a prosperous and healthy new year!
President and CEO
Chamber members make a difference in our communities in a variety of ways. First and foremost they provide products and services that people need and want for their own personal or business reasons. They create jobs that employ thousands of local people. They provide needed tax revenue to our communities. But most do much more than that through their community support of local organizations, non-profits, sports groups, cultural institutions and many others.
Each year, we get to recognize a few of those members whose success in business and support of the community stands out among others. We are currently accepting nominations for our Annual Awards which are presented at the Annual Meeting in January. I encourage you to consider nominating a member business or individual whom you feel is worthy of such recognition. Simply download the nomination form and return to it to the Chamber office.
Several Chamber members were making a difference for local high school students last month at our "Business, Marketing and Finance Seminar" in cooperation with the School To Careers Partnership. The program was held at Canton High school and included 175 students from area high schools.
Chamber members in the fields of business, marketing and finance shared with students insights into their professions; how they got to where they are; what a typical day is like; what they love about their work, etc. Students were given the opportunity to ask questions and even role play in a few instances.
The student feedback was great and included comments such as:
"Being able to connect with and learn from other people who are not teachers is so valuable."
"Presenters messages of having a plan; be social (network); don't give up; recognize opportunity and don't be afraid to ask were universal and inspiring."
The Chamber is grateful to our members who participated by sharing their time and wisdom with these young people as they begin to make decisions about their futures. You are making a difference.
President and CEO
The Neponset Valley Chamber of Commerce, whose members include Norwood Hospital and Brigham and Women's/Mass General Health Center along with numerous eldercare centers, rehabilitation facilities, and doctor's offices, has joined the Coalition to Protect Patient Safety in opposition to the proposed nurse staffing ballot question.
After reviewing the ballot question and the anticipated impacts it would have on area medical facilities, patients and consumers, the Chamber board voted to oppose the question. There is also concern about legislating, by popular vote, what is essentially a human resources issue. The result being staffing levels being determined by government mandate in a one size fits all manner.
The ballot question, proposed by the Massachusetts nurses' union, which represents less than a quarter of nurses in the Commonwealth, would require that hospitals across the state, no matter their size or specific needs of their patients, adhere to the same rigid nurse staffing ratios within all patient care areas. The petition does not make allowances for rural or small community hospitals, holding them to the same staffing ratios as major Boston teaching hospitals.
If this were to pass, most hospitals, including Norwood Hospital, would experience vastly higher costs to deliver lifesaving care with no evidence that it would improve patient quality or outcomes. Conversely, these mandates may reduce the safety of patients who are in need of emergency or urgent care by forcing them to travel to hospitals outside of their own communities. Furthermore, the added expenses would prohibit hospitals from investing in new technology, equipment and staff.
This measure is projected to cost the Massachusetts healthcare system more than $1.3 billion in the first year, and more than $900 million each year thereafter, according to an independent study by MassInsight and BW Research Partners. Patients would feel it in the form of higher premiums, deductibles and taxes at a time when many Massachusetts families are already struggling to pay for health care. Hospitals will be forced to cut vital health programs, such as cancer screenings, opioid treatments, mental health services, early childhood intervention, domestic violence programs and pre- or post- natal care.
The Neponset Valley Chamber joins numerous other Chambers, the American Nurses Association Massachusetts, the Organization of Nurse Leaders, the Massachusetts Health and Hospital Association, the Massachusetts Council of Community Hospitals, the Conference of Boston Teaching Hospitals, and other health care leaders in protecting the state's healthcare system and its patients from the consequences of this rigid, costly mandate that will go before voters on November 6th.
Learn more about the Coalition to Protect Patient Safety at http://www.Facebook.com/ProtectPatientSafety and www.Twitter.com/MAPatientSafety.
President and CEO
For most of us getting to work is a fairly easy task. Typically, if we work in the region, we drive and park in a nearby lot. For those commuting to Boston it can it bit more cumbersome whether its taking the commuter rail or driving through the inevitable traffic.
However, there is a reasonably large population of people who commute into our region to work, for whom the journey can be not only lengthy, but somewhat dangerous. Many workers come to the area to work at retail locations like Legacy Place, Patriot Place, The Mall at Walpole and hotels and restaurants along Route 1. The MBTA's 34E bus brings people from Boston to the Neponset Valley along Route 1A. Getting from Route 1A to employer locations on Route 1 can be tricky as there are no connections for commuters, other than walking. In the winter time, with snowy roads, this can be a nuisance at best and hazardous at worst.
With a strong economy and full employment, many of our retailers and hospitality businesses are struggling to find workers to fill out their staffing needs. Attracting people from outside the region can be effective, but only if we can find creative ways to help these people get to their jobs, often at off-peak hours.
For the past few years, the Chamber has been working with the Neponset Valley Transportation Management Association (TMA) and others to address this issue and more relating to moving people around the region.
Recently we formed a Suburban Mobility Working Group consisting of a broad range of stakeholders including local municipalities, large and small employers, councils on aging, health care institutions, human service agencies and others.
The Working Group has identified three issues on which it will focus to achieve its mission which is - to address mobility challenges in the suburban Neponset Valley region through multi-modal infrastructure improvements. The group will collaborate and advocate for reliable, affordable, cost-effective, efficient, and accessible innovative transportation solutions that serve all needs.
The three issues are:
The success of these efforts will depend largely on the input we receive from local businesses about the challenges they face in getting employees to and from work. Please let me know if you would like to be part of this process or if you have any input you would like to share regarding these issues by contacting me at 781-769-1126 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Neponset Valley Chamber of Commerce will celebrate its 125th Anniversary in 2019!
In preparation for the anniversary, the Board of Directors is forming a sub-committee of members who would be interested in helping to put together a plan to appropriately celebrate the year. This could include a special event or events, member recognition opportunities, video or other media programs.
If you are someone with a creative mind, a party planner or just want to help out, email me at email@example.com and let me know of your interest.
One way that we'll be commemorating our big year is with a new visual image. Our Branding sub-committee has issued an RFP for members to bid on re-imaging the Chamber's logo, color scheme and overall brand image. Thanks to the great response we had on our recent member survey, we gained an understanding of how the Chamber is and isn't viewed by members. Our goal is to present a visual image that reflects best how we are viewed as we move on to the next 125 years.
This work will occur over the summer and ultimately lead to us incorporating the new image into our print materials and most importantly an updated website.
In separate news, you read here last month about a Member Recruitment Breakfast on June 15th. I am happy to say that in June we had 12 members join the Chamber. You can see them below in the left hand column.
Many thanks to Little Bird Events for hosting the breakfast. Also to our sponsors, Bacon & Flaherty, Murphy, Hesse, Toomey & Lehane, Wegman's and Brigham & Woman's/Mass General Health Center.
We also appreciate those members who brought along a guest to learn about Chamber membership and its benefits.
Have a great Fourth of July!
President and CEO
Thank you to all who completed our recent membership survey! It's been a while since we've taken the collective pulse of the Chamber membership and we are very pleased that we had more than 100 responses to the questionnaire. The Chamber's Branding Task Force is currently reviewing the results which will help inform our programming, initiatives and future branding efforts. There is a great deal of information that you all provided which will ensure that we are meeting your needs as local businesses.
You can view the overall responses here.
We were particularly pleased to see that when asked to rate the likelihood
of referring another business to the Chamber on a scale, members responded with an average answer of 6.1 out of 7.
So now we'd like to ask you to act on that. Our Membership Committee led by Rob Ferrini, McGowanPro, is hosting a Member Recruitment Breakfast on Friday, June 15 at Little Bird Events in Norwood.
The price of admission for members is free, provided you bring a non-member with you. You and your guest will be treated to breakfast and have the opportunity to meet other members and learn about the benefits of Chamber membership.
There is no obligation for prospective members to join. If they decide the Chamber is not for them, that's fine. However, we will offer a number of incentives to those who do decide to join us and we will have several drawings for those who attend with a guest.
Think about all of the businesses that you deal with in your business or personal life and consider whether there are some who could benefit from the Chamber. You'll be doing them a service by exposing them to what the Chamber has to offer.
Most importantly, you'll be helping to strengthen the Chamber by aiding in its continued growth and vitality.
You can find all the details of the breakfast meeting here. If you would like to send an invitation to a prospective member, you can find one here.
We hope to see you there!
President and CEO
We are pleased to announce that Governor Charlie Baker will be joining us for Small Business Day on Tuesday, April 10th. Don't miss this great opportunity to hear from our governor and ask him about the issues most important to your business. Learn vital information, meet key legislators, and make your voice heard on Small Business Day!
Along with the keynote speaker and a forum with members of the Labor Committee, we will also be joined by staff from Division of Unemployment Assistance to help answer member questions on the new health assessment that businesses are required to pay.
To ensure your voice as a job creator is heard, the Chamber and our ally business organizations (other Chambers from across the state, Associated Industries of Massachusetts, NFIB, the Retailers Association of Massachusetts, Massachusetts Restaurant Association, Mass Package Stores Association and Massachusetts Food Association) are hosting Small Business Day on Beacon Hill as an opportunity to educate policy makers on the effects of legislative proposals that increase the cost of doing business and prevent your business from growing and creating more jobs.
This year alone Massachusetts small businesses potentially face:
• 26 weeks of paid medical leave and 16 weeks of paid family leave (partially employer funded)
• $15 minimum wage
• A 4% income tax surcharge for pass-thru entities (the so-called millionaires tax)
• A newly imposed MassHealth assessment
• Double-digit health care premium increases
• Highest in the nation energy costs
In addition to our guest speakers, our agenda includes an update on key legislation from our expert panel, a chance to provide feedback to key legislators, and meet with your elected officials.
All business owners are encouraged to attend and bring guests. There is no cost to attend the program, but reservations must be made by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Registration will begin at 9:30 a.m. with the program to follow shortly after, concluding at noon. The event will be held at the Omni Parker House Hotel, 60 School Street, Boston.
Sharing some random thoughts while wondering which Nick Foles will show up for the Eagles on Sunday.
• How lucky are we to be living and working in the shadow of Gillette Stadium? The Super Bowl has become like an annual holiday around here, thanks to the Patriot's stranglehold on the AFC.
• Of course in addition to bragging rights, their success is good for business. Just look at the recent surge in hotel development along Route 1. Additionally, the extra games played in January provide a boost in business for local restaurants, bars and others that might otherwise be experiencing a slow month after the holidays.
• My prediction - Patriot's 24 Eagles 17
• From her perch at Brigham and Women's/Mass General Health Care Center at Patriot Place, Cindy Peterson literally looks down onto Gillette Stadium. Cindy, is the Executive Director of the Health Care Center (which is expanding) and was just elected board chair of the Chamber at last week's Annual Meeting. An active member for many years, she recently spearheaded our new Women's Leadership Alliance and looks forward to building on the momentum gained at the end of 2017.
• That momentum occurred with Brian Johnson as chair. We are grateful for his dedicated leadership and continued involvement as he hands over the reins to Cindy. At the Annual Meeting, Brian took the opportunity to thank Peter McFarland, The Allied Group, for his long-time support of the Chamber as Peter's term as a member of the Board of Directors came to an end.
• Other highlights from the Annual Meeting included the election of three new board of directors: Susan Cwieka, New Pond Village, Paul Kouri, Keller Williams and Najwa Murphy, Fairfield Inn & Suites. Welcome!
• We also recognized our Awards winners whose photos are below.
President and CEO
Volunteer Opportunities for the New Year
We are nearing the end of a very busy and productive year for the Chamber. Back in March our Board of Directors held a planning retreat at which a number of new initiatives were launched and are currently taking shape.
Like many of you in your own businesses, we recognized a need to find new and better ways to engage our customers, which in our case is our members. As a result we launched a Women's Leadership Alliance, a Communications Committee and began plans for a Membership Committee.
The upshot of these new programs, along with our existing committee's, means that we have several opportunities for members looking to increase their involvement with the Chamber as we head into 2018. As a member-driven organization, we rely on your involvement of time and ideas to help shape our activities and focus our agenda so that it benefits local business.
Please consider the following areas in which we could use your talents. If you see something of interest, shoot me an email and we'll get you plugged in.
Education and Business Committee members ready to head to class at Norwood High School.
Women's Leadership Alliance -Their mission is to educate, promote, facilitate and explore women's development in business, and provide a forum for networking.
Communications Committee - Marketing and communications professionals working to enhance the Chamber's use of social media and email marketing. They are also beginning a re-branding initiative as we head into our 125th anniversary in 2019.
Membership Committee - New for 2018, this group will work to increase membership in the Chamber with a focus on identifying under-represented business sectors and strengthening our core business sectors.
Ambassadors - Providing outreach to new and existing members in order to educate and engage them so that they can maximize their member investment.
Young Professionals - The Young Professional's mission is to foster an innovative environment that allows those who live, work, and play within the region to achieve and exceed personal and professional goals. We do so by providing employers and individuals with the resources necessary to cultivate the Neponset Valley workforce and encourage our members to become active participants in the community.
Education and Business Committee - Works with our local high schools to provide career awareness opportunities for students and maintains a dialogue with school administrators to help them understand the needs of the future workforce.
Government Affairs Committee - Reviews pending legislation and regulations for their impact on the membership and develops positions that will enhance economic growth. Also builds relationships with local and state officials by hosting meetings and events that allow members to interact with government leaders.
Industry Specific Alliances - We have three active Alliance groups, Elder Care, Human Resources and Health and Wellness, that meet regularly to network within their industries and offer programs of interest to our members and the community. Anyone from a business in these sectors is welcome to participate.
Other - If there is something missing from this list that you would like to see added, let us know. The only reason the groups listed above exist is because someone suggested it.
How will you get involved in the New Year?
President and CEO
"This year, buy from the people who have your kid's back."
I saw this in a blog I read recently about shopping locally during the holiday season. It makes a strong case for supporting local businesses. The people who have your kid's back are the businesses whose name you read on the back of their shirts on the Little League and soccer fields, at the ice hockey rinks, in the gyms and anywhere else our kids may be involved in sports or other activities for that matter.
Without local business support, many of these activities either wouldn't exist or would be prohibitively expensive, leaving many kids on the sidelines.
Admittedly it's tougher than ever to shop locally, given the competition that local retailers face. From big box stores like Walmart and Target to internet giants like Amazon, it's all to easy just click a few buttons and wait for the truck to pull up to the house.
But if we think for a moment about the impact of our local purchases, it might move us to be more conscious of where we spend our money. You all know by now that money spent locally stays in the region. Local retailers employ local residents and they pay much needed commercial tax revenue to our communities unlike online retailers. And again, they are the ones who have our kid's back.
I encourage you to think about this as we head into the holiday buying season and of course throughout the year. You may pay a little more at times and you may have physically go into a store, but you can feel good knowing that your purchase is benefiting more than just the store owner.
On a related note, you can meet 100 local businesses in person at next week's "Let's Do Business" Expo at Gillette Stadium. There's no cost to attend and you'll be exposed to business from more than 40 communities in five Chambers of Commerce. Governor Charlie Baker will speak briefly at the start of the event at 3:00 and then spend some time visiting with our exhibitors. There will also be visits from Pat the Patriot and the Patriots cheerleaders and a business after hours will begin at 5:00 at which there will be appetizers and a cash bar.
Again, the idea is to meet your fellow local business partners and build relationships that benefit us all and promote local commerce.
I hope to see you there.
President and CEO