Policy Agenda 2021
The Greater Newport Chamber of Commerce is working on behalf of its members to enhance the regional economy through a number of specific priorities, including, supporting the recovery of the local economy, advocating for specific small business issues, supporting industry sector projects, engaging in education and workforce development initiatives, and working with municipal leaders to identify ways of improving the local business climate and broader economic development strategy. The following is a summary of the Greater Newport Chamber of Commerce’s policy priorities for 2021:
- Continue to support and engage in the Restore Greater Newport initiative to establish a resiliency and competitive strategy for the region.
- Work closely with state leadership to advocate for and advise on appropriate programs from stimulus packages to meet the needs of the small businesses most greatly impacted by the global pandemic, as well as support proposals to reduce regulations and fees imposed on adversely impacted businesses.
- Act as a resource of information and an advocate for small business interests with regard to the bridge realignment and other development projects.
- 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 projects, grants, 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.
- Advocate for programs and projects for infrastructure improvements related to housing, broadband, transportation and education.
- Assist in identifying and implementing talent retention and attraction programs.
- Establishing a remote readiness package to attract talent and investment.
- Develop robust regional economic development division to serve the broader community.
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 Insurance Group Committee to discuss ways of reducing overall costs to the system and to stabilize the small business insurance group market.
- 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 partner with all three organizations to bring quality programming to the Greater Newport region.
- 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, Innovation Voucher Program for small businesses, Real Jobs RI, and Wavemaker programs.
- 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 a direct impact on our island communities, including legislation relative to resiliency, transportation options and the banning of plastic bags/straws that adversely impact the Bay and the economic activities associated with ocean communities.
- Oppose Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI), as it is a regressive tax that will adversely impact the workforce and broader business community by increasing the cost of doing business, commuting, and operating, while doing little to impact the underlying concern of greenhouse gas emissions.
- Promote education and workforce development opportunities for the broader business community through state and philanthropic resources. Partner with Working Cities, East Bay CAP and Skills for RI in helping to align business employment needs with the hiring of a local skilled workforce.
- Support the RI Foundation’s “Chart a Course, Stay the Course” initiative to support the enhancement of the state’s K-12 education system.
- 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 and H2B visa programs.
- 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 – Support the Real Jobs RI program and their investment in defense and undersea technology sector.
- Marine Trades – Support the Real Jobs RI program, advancement of the composites sector and the 401 Bridge project.
- Blue Economy – Continue to support and convene sessions on the importance of this sector to the RI economy, as well as establish a robust program dedicated to supporting the development of this sector in the region and that supports the blue collar workforce with career opportunities.
- Hospitality and Tourism – Supporting efforts to revive the sector post-pandemic. Continue to grow the ShopGreaterNewport initiative to encourage shopping local and small.
Municipal Government Leadership
- Continue to support coordination of the Regional Economic Development Division, through public, private partnership, BRE program and development of a region wide 10 year strategic plan for economic development.
- Regular meetings with statewide elected officials and municipal leadership.
- Support for municipal efforts to enhance infrastructure and improve local policies and procedures to positively impact the overall business climate in the region.
- Advocate for state bond regional investments.
In addition to these efforts and legislative priorities, the Chamber will also be offering quarterly public policy sessions to bring statewide conversations to Greater Newport for all members.