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Mass. CEOs look to get more competitive in D.C.

Massachusetts Competitive Partnership CEO Dan O’Connell said the group’s main goal is to make the case for increased federal investments in Massachusetts.
Massachusetts Competitive Partnership CEO Dan O’Connell said the group’s main goal is to make the case for increased federal investments in Massachusetts.David L. Ryan/File 2015

Few business associations hold as much clout on Beacon Hill as the Massachusetts Competitive Partnership, the group of CEOs from many of the state’s largest companies.

Now the partnership is looking to expand its influence into another government hub: the nation’s capital.

The association hired Chartwell Strategy Group last month, its first such lobbying contract for a broad-based assignment in Washington. The partnership had previously worked to advocate against federal loan guarantees for the Cape Wind energy project, ostensibly because of the potential impact on electric ratepayers. (The project was eventually doomed, in large part, by financing issues.) But that was a specific cause. Chartwell’s work will be much more expansive.

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Partnership CEO Dan O’Connell said the group’s main goal is to make the case for increased federal investments in Massachusetts. The focus, he said, will be on securing funds for transportation and related infrastructure, workforce training, and energy security.

Toward that end, O’Connell and chief operating officer Bryan Jamele joined chairman Bob Reynolds for a trip to D.C. last month. They met with reps for the Transportation and Treasury departments, as well as Republican Senator Marco Rubio’s office.

As CEO of Putnam Investments, Reynolds has made the trip before. He has advocated on policy issues involving the financial sector, and his company already works with Chartwell. Reynolds may be a Republican, but the partnership is nonpartisan, and several members generally support Democrats. (O’Connell was previously a top economic adviser to former governor Deval Patrick.) Reynolds said other partnership members have been active in Washington as well, on their own.

Reynolds said it’s important to ensure the state is well represented when decisions are made about federal funds. The topics that came up included Massport’s expansion of its Conley shipping terminal and the long-awaited federal infrastructure bill. (Reynolds remains hopeful it will advance soon.)

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The state’s all-Democratic delegation could end up with some powerful positions in Congress, depending on how the midterm elections go. But the partnership isn’t waiting around to build its own ties inside the Beltway.


Jon Chesto can be reached at jon.chesto@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @jonchesto.