Policy & Advocacy - Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce

Policy & Advocacy

Advocating on Your BehalfBeacon-Hill

The Chamber has a pulse on what’s happening at Worcester’s City Hall, Beacon Hill in Boston, and Capitol Hill on behalf of your business. Our advocacy efforts are ongoing as we advocate for business-friendly policies which encourage economic development, ensure a stellar workforce, and create a climate conducive to growth. In this work, we support businesses of all sizes, across all industries and we recognize the needs of these businesses vary. Whether it’s workforce development, tax competiveness, health care reform, or economic development, the Chamber is engaged at every step of the legislative process to ensure your voice is heard.

We have our sights set on your bottom line and the Chamber regularly takes on public policy initiatives that have an impact on businesses and the cost of doing business.

Issues and topics on which the Chamber advocates for its members include:

The City of Worcester’s Dual Tax Classification

Worcester’s dual tax rate results in businesses paying a disproportionate amount of the tax burden in the city. The Chamber continuously advocated for a decrease in the disparity of property tax rates to create a business-friendly climate that will lead to an increase in the number of businesses in the city and spread the tax burden thereby decreasing the liability for everyone.

Increased Water and Sewer Rates in the Worcester

The Chamber has advocated for lower water and sewer rates to reduce the financial hardship on both businesses and residents. The rate increase is largely due to federally-mandated updates from the Environmental Protection Agency required at the Upper Blackstone Water Treatment facility. In previous years, the Chamber helped establish conversations between city officials and the EPA with the goal of mitigating some of these increases.

 Economic Development Incentives

Development of two hotels within the city was spurred by the Chamber’s advocacy for certain incentives. The AC Marriott in CitySquare brought an additional 160 hotel rooms and 10 suites to downtown while the Courtyard by Marriott Worcester on nearby Grove Street complements the city’s hospitality adding 134 rooms. These hotels result in economic spin-off at restaurants, local attractions, and retail establishments.

To build Worcester’s reputation as a destination, the Chamber worked with city administration and state delegations to obtain a $5-million-general-bond bill and an additional $30 million which was targeted at updates, renovations and expansion of the DCU Center, and attracting more conventions to the Heart of the Commonwealth.

 Housing Development Incentive Program (HDIP)

To encourage private investment and rehabilitation of aged buildings, the Chamber asked the Worcester City Council to adopt the Massachusetts Housing Development Incentive Program, or HDIP, to encourage private investment and rehabilitation of aged buildings. The HDIP offers tax incentives to developers who revitalize properties into market-rate housing and provides a local-option tax credit, similar to a TIF, further encouraging market-rate development. Legislation was passed in July 2014 which allows developers to consider larger structures. A map of Worcester’s HDIP zones can be downloaded here.

 Transformative Development Fund (TDF)

The Chamber pushed for the creation of the new Transformative Development Fund (TDF) to provide targeted equity investment for transformative development projects. A list of redevelopment projects within Gateway Cities, of which Worcester is one, will include sites with the greatest potential to provide economic and job growth and which will be prioritized with regard to funding.

For more information on these issues or to bring an issue to the attention of the Chamber’s public policy committee, contact: Alex Guardiola, director of public policy and government affairs, at 508.753.2924, ext. 222 or aguardiola@worcesterchamber.org.