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Survey says: We're okay

By G. Michael Dobbs
Managing Editor

If you've not heard and you might not from other media outlets since it's good news Massachusetts was ranked fifth in the nation in CNBC's "Top States for Business 2010."
We killed on education, access to capital and technology and innovation.
Now I would imagine Republican gubernatorial candidate Charlie Baker might have to modify one or two of his talking points, but that's just politics. What this report represents is something far more challenging.
Now if you want to read the complete report, log on to http://www.cnbc.com/id/37554006/. Go ahead. I'll wait.
Back again? Okay. Massachusetts was ranked 39th in the cost of doing business. CNBC noted, "We looked at the tax burden, including individual income and property taxes, business taxes, even the gasoline tax. Utility costs can add up to a huge expense for business and they vary widely by state. We also looked at the cost of wages and state workers' compensation insurance, as well as rental costs for office and industrial space."
So what can we do about these items? If I were a member of the Legislature, I'd make addressing these items a priority.
We also ranked low on the cost of living. CNBC's survey observed, "The cost of living helps drive the cost of doing business. From housing to food and energy, wages go further when the cost of living is low."
Oklahoma was number one in cost of living but 41st in quality of life. We ranked sixth in the nation for quality of life, but 40th in cost of living.
There's a little contradiction there, but that's the nature of a survey such as this one. There is also a challenge: Would we want to lower the quality of life in order to lower the cost of living?
What this kind of survey should do is start or continue a discussion on how we can capitalize on our strengths. We attract young people from around the world to our schools, but how do we keep them here? How do we build the opportunities for them?
Oh, I've heard plenty of people say if we lower the burden on businesses the private sector will invest. Would that happen here?
What this survey doesn't address is how we need to re-build our manufacturing base and bring entry level jobs that promise a future back to this country. How do we restructure how we raise food, putting greater emphasis on local production? Why aren't we requiring solar panels to generate electricity on all government buildings something that would save resources and money while increasing business?
I know some of these issues are being addressed in various ways and on various levels, but this survey is a little alarm clock that reminds us it's time to really wake up and work on what needs to be done.
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Okay, what the heck is happening with the Union Station project? It seems that every other year there's some sort of press conference to announce some development and then it goes dead.
And while I'm at it, is anything happening at 31 Elm St., the Court Square building?
Color me "impatient" this week.
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Although I'm no sports fan, I have to congratulate the geniuses at ESPN and Lebron James' management for coming up with the biggest broadcasting boondoggle in years: his "dramatic" announcement on where he was going.
Outside the realm of politics, seldom has so much been made about so very, very little.
I did feel sorry for all of those kids forced to sit motionless as props in the background. I wonder what they got out of the deal?
This column represents the opinions of its author. Please mail all letters to the editor to Reminder Publications Inc., 280 North Main St., East Longmeadow, MA 01028 or e-mail news@thereminder.com.