BOSTON- Today, State Rep. Linda Dorcena Forry, House Chair of the Joint Committee on Community Development and Small Business, congratulated Governor Deval Patrick on signing into law H. 4352, An Act relative to infrastructure investment, enhanced competitiveness and economic growth in the Commonwealth. The legislation, based on an economic development bill approved by the House of Representatives in May of 2012, retains a number of key provisions crafted by Rep. Forry intended to spur local development and provide information on business counseling and technical assistance programs available to Massachusetts entrepreneurs and small business owners.
“I thank Governor Patrick for signing this critical legislation into law,” said Rep. Forry. “The bill provides tailored solutions to the most pressing development needs of our local communities, while also raising awareness of the tremendous wealth of public resources available to our state’s nearly 580,000 entrepreneurs and small business owners, through the creation of an official state web portal listing this information.” Rep. Forry continued, “I thank the Governor, Speaker DeLeo, Chairman Wagner, and my co-chair, Senator DiDomenico for their support of these key provisions and look forward to working with them to quickly implement the new law.
The provisions authored by Rep. Forry that were incorporated into the bill signed into law by the Governor today, include:
- Community Development Partnership Tax Credit Program (CDPA): The bill establishes a tax credit program to help Community Development Corporations (CDCs) leverage private funds and invest in long-term strategic planning initiatives aimed at improving neighborhoods. The provisions are drawn from H. 3707, An Act to create the community development partnership program, filed by Rep. Forry along with her Senate Co-Chair, Senator Sal DiDomenico in early 2011. The establishment of the program was consistently cited as a top priority by the state’s network of CDCs during the Joint Committee on Community Development and Small Business’s 2011 Statewide Community Development Listening Tour.
- One-Stop-Shop Small Business Resource Web Portal: The law also creates a comprehensive web portal to act as an official “one-stop shop” for Massachusetts entrepreneurs and small business owners seeking business counseling services or technical assistance. Despite the wealth of services available through the government and private sector partners, the state does not maintain a complete listing of these resources. To address this issue, the bill charges the Massachusetts Office of Business Development with the task of developing such a website in collaboration with the Office of Small Business and Entrepreneurship and other relevant state agencies.
- Improving Access to and Responsiveness of State Small Business Loan Review Boards: Finally, the law improves the accessibility and responsiveness of the state’s small business loan review boards. Currently, the state has 4 regional loan review boards overseen by the Division of Banks that are charged with assessing complaints regarding loan denials submitted by small business applicants. With limited legislative direction, the review boards meet infrequently and have no legal requirement to report their findings either to the small businesses in question, or to state officials. The law help’s to make the boards a more useful resource for entrepreneurs and small businesses by reforming their reporting procedures.
In addition to these critical components, the law includes a number of other provisions intended to facilitate economic development and improve the state’s business climate. For example, the legislation creates a Talent Pipeline Program to help match qualified job seekers with industry specific employment opportunities, establishes a Massachusetts Creative Economy Network to facilitate business creation in artistic or non-traditional industries, formally establishes a Regulatory Ombudsman position within the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development to address regulatory issues affecting small business, and designates August 11-12, 2012 as a state Sales Tax Holiday.