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    Excerpts from the podium

    Obamacare needs to be fair to small business

    Excerpts from the Globe’s
    “Voices of New England’’ blog

    at www.bostonglobe.com/podium


    THE FEDS are clearly getting it wrong under the Affordable Care Act as it affects small businesses — on state mandates, rating factors, and wellness programs. They are lowering the consumer rights of small business employees to those of individuals rather than elevating them to the level of those working for large employers. These decisions ignore the fact that small employers compete for both customers and workers with big businesses.


    Our Main Street businesses and their employees deserve the same opportunities in the market as those who work for large employers. The Obama administration should either grant Massachusetts a waiver to continue our small business initiatives, or go back to the drawing board and revise these misguided regulations.

    Retailers Association of Massachu setts


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    WHILE “host agreements” between communities and casinos may include financial allowances and mitigation interventions for adjacent neighborhoods, they are often vague about benefits for cities and towns in the surrounding area. These agreements need to:

     Include guaranteed, ongoing dollars for addiction treatment; job training, education, and career development programs; youth initiatives; business development; improvements to neighborhoods in the wider geographical area; and other programs to meet needs in low-income neighborhoods.

     Guarantee seats for community representatives on the casino-community host management board of directors.

     Include all those in the wide-ranging surrounding area in the vote for the casino. For example, the vote for an East Boston casino needs to be a citywide vote, as was done in Everett. All members of the host city are impacted by a casino that is only a subway or bus ride away.

    Action for Boston Community De vel opment

    Entrepreneur ecosystem


    A TOP priority for the new mayor must be to boost the local entrepreneurial ecosystem — a key to attracting a young population, bolstering job creation, and spurring inner city economic growth. The new mayor should:

     Resist the urge to throw big money at start-ups Starting and running a business is not for the coddled. Policy makers should not throw money at young entrepreneurs in the hopes of creating a sustainable start-up ecosystem. Innovation often comes from having your back against the wall and a lack of abundant resources.

     Get to know young business leaders Too many politicians focus their time with the moneyed and well-suited CEOs of larger businesses. Engaging young leaders of local start-ups not only boosts their confidence (critical to success), but also helps shape policy by understanding real needs.

     Create more affordable start-up space. The Innovation District is a great start, and Mass Challenge is growing in stature as a local accelerator. Less heralded but equally as important has been Mayor Menino’s focus on the SoWa district.

     Boost Boston’s creative scene. Resist the urge to cut back on cultural funding, make licensing for music venues easier, and encourage local organizations like the Arts and Business Council, which helps artists think like entrepreneurs.

     Build on Boston’s academic strengths (reach across the river).


    To quote Bill Aulet from MIT’s Martin Trust Center for Entrepreneurship, “to succeed in business today you need a hacker, a hustler, and a hipster.” Our universities, including those across the Charles, attract all three (Berklee has the hipsters; Northeastern has the hustlers; MIT has the hackers). How about creating an Innovation Council or a Boston Hacking Day that encourages cross-pollination and collaboration between our best and brightest?

    Panos Panay