Policy Agenda 2019
The Newport County Chamber of Commerce is working on behalf of its members to improve the overall business climate in the state through a number of specific priorities, including, advocating for specific small business issues, supporting industry sector projects that will enhance the vitality of the entire County, supporting education and workforce development initiatives, and working with local municipal government leaders to identify ways of improving the local economy. The following is a summary of the Newport County Chamber of Commerce’s policy priorities for 2019:
• Act as a resource of information and an advocate for small business interests with regard to the bridge realignment project.
• Support statewide efforts to offer economic incentives to existing RI businesses for growth opportunities.
• Support and advocate for programs that will enhance the entrepreneurial ecosphere in the region through tools, resources and programming.
• Advocate for state support of public private partnerships when the projects have positive economic impact implications for the region, maintain and enhance job opportunities, increase revenue projections, and enable growth and expansion among RI’s prominent industry sectors.
• Support innovative business models and their ability to operate successfully in the State of Rhode Island.
• Continue to host quarterly economic update luncheons to provide important informative sessions on topics impacting the broader business community.
• Support historic tax credit legislation to support reuse and repurposing of historic properties in order to enhance economic development initiatives and maintain New England character throughout our communities.
Small Business Issues
• The cost of Health Insurance continues to grow and is the second largest cost to employers after payroll. The Chamber is working on behalf of the small business community by participating in the Small Business Administration Committee on Health Insurance and by coordinating regular meetings with state leaders on this subject to discuss ways of reducing overall costs to the system and other options of enabling Chambers to either work directly with insurers to negotiate discounted rates and/or pool employees to increase bargaining power.
• Support for state matching funds of SBA, SBDC and CWE federal resources, to enable those valuable resources to small businesses to continue and perhaps be enhanced.
• Continue to support efforts to streamline the regulatory process on a statewide and municipal level for issues related to the business community.
• Reduce the cost of doing business by implementing tax reform and opposing new state mandates that will be costly and infringe on the private sector’s ability to do business autonomously.
• Oppose continued efforts to increase minimum wage and tipped wages on an annual basis, as well as other efforts that undermine existing business models and generally accepted business practices.
• Support the Supply RI program.
• Support efforts to diversify energy sources and reduce overall costs of utilities to maintain a level of competitiveness for the region.
• Advocate on behalf of smart environmental policies that will have direct impact on our island communities, including legislation relative to resiliency, transportation options and banning of plastic bags that adversely impact the Bay and the economic activities associated with ocean communities.
• Promote education and workforce development opportunities for the broader business community through state and philanthropic resources.
• Participate in Newport Working Cities Grant whose mission is to address systems change in an effort to assist unemployed and underemployed residents find upward mobility.
• Offer Job Bank and Job Fair for employers and individuals seeking work.
• Assist seasonal employers with identifying and securing additional workforce through the J1 visa program.
• Support efforts to address the cliff effect impacting women in the workforce eligible for child care subsidies that would allow for upward mobility.
• Oppose legalization of recreational marijuana, due to the adverse effects that will have on employment opportunities specifically related to the Navy Base and defense industries.
Industry Sector Projects
• Defense – Advocate for funding to support the next phase of infrastructure assessment to support the Navy and Aquidneck Island communities in order to determine how to support the future maintenance and operations of utilities along Burma Road. Also, advocate for BRAC preparation resources.
• Marine Trades – Support efforts in Portsmouth to identify resources available to address redevelopment of the Navy Surplus land area in Melville and on the Tank Farms. Also, support efforts to modify the abandonment vessels statute to give more ease to private marinas to divest of abandoned vessels and recycle the materials for reuse.
• Hospitality and Tourism – Supporting efforts to address community concerns and issues arising for workforce housing relative to Air BNB phenomenon.
Municipal Government Leadership
• Continue to support coordination of the Regional Economic Development Division in support of the public, private partnership
• Regular meetings with government officials and their Town Managers
• Support for municipal efforts to enhance infrastructure and improve local policies and procedures to positively impact the overall business climate in the region.