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NEW: Was Romney Bad for Mass. Businesses?

Monday, July 02, 2012

 

Former Mass. governor, Mitt Romney, left the state in good standing in 2007, but his policies for small businesses may have cost the state. Numbers released in CNBC’s ranking of Top States for Businesses show that compared to figures in ’07, Massachusetts has flourished in its ability to cater to businesses since Romney left office.

The Commonwealth rose from its #12 spot in ’07 to #5 in the 2011 results. The ranking takes many factors into consideration, including Cost of Business, Workforce, Quality of Life, Economy, Transportation, Technology & Innovation, Education, Business Friendliness, Access to Capital, and Cost of Living.

Since Romney left office, the state’s Cost of Business ranking went from 40 to 39. Workforce also increased from 26 to 23. The state’s Economy score shot up from 41 to 17. Technology also increased one point from 4 to 3.

The only scores that fell for the state were Transportation, which fell from 38 to 39. Quality of Life went from 3 to 6. Businesses Friendliness actually lowered from 13 to 14.

Education, Massachusetts’ highest score stayed strongest at the #1 spot both years. Access to Capital, the state’s next highest score also stayed the same at #2.

Changes in the Job Force

“Things are continuing to plague us are the costs of doing business. We’re in the middle of the pack which surprised me. I think some are catching up and catching on,” said Dick Kennedy, President and CEO of the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce. “In general, I’d say that if you look at 2011 versus 2007, you see us dealing with some of the issues we will always deal with.”

Kennedy says though that while the state will continue to see a lot of the same issues, there are some major changes happening in the job market across the state.

“The changing demographic of our companies and working population is catching hold – the shift to biotech and some of the more advanced activities are starting to take hold,” he said. “That was in lighter engagement four or five years ago. In Worcester, there was a time when manufacturing was approaching 50%. It’s under 9% now, even though we have a lot of manufacturing here. They’ve been supplanted by biotech and education.”

He feels that while the governor's role is important, there are many factors that have gone into Massachusetts jobs since 2007.

“I think in the Romney administration they were focusing on regional competitiveness councils, areas where there were local expertise. With the Patrick administration, it’s continued focus on growth and jobs,” Kennedy said. “There’s no benefit to a sitting government that doesn’t encourage additional work.”

“The sand is shifting, but we’ll still continue to see the issues we always do,” he said. “It’s pretty obvious that there’s a huge amount of opportunity in these areas, and the governor is a strong proponent of that and recognizes that. And we’re certainly fighting for a piece of that opportunity in Worcester.”

Reputation as Governor

CNBC stated that while Romney is touting his work in Massachusetts as grounds for his election for Presidency, their numbers give a bigger picture, showing that the former governor left some gaps when he left office.

One outside statistic they cited was the addition of jobs in the state and unemployment levels while Romney was charge:

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, unemployment in Massachusetts in December 2006, was 5.3 percent, compared with the national rate at the time of 4.5 percent. The state added about 35,000 jobs in 2006. For comparison, the state of Washington, with a similar-sized population, added more than 83,000.

 

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