Business leaders talk health care, enegry costs in Portsmouth


By: Charles McMahon
Date: Friday, Jun 13, 2008
Publication: Foster's Daily Democrat

PORTSMOUTH — Dozens of Seacoast businessmen and women gathered Thursday at Pease International Tradeport in an effort to discuss top business challenges they face and brainstorm ways to get state lawmakers more involved in policy development geared at strengthening statewide commerce.

The roundtable was sponsored by the New Hampshire Business and Industry Association, in partnership with the Greater Portsmouth Chamber of Commerce.

With five areas of focus in mind, the many business executives from several local groups pitched concerns and offered suggestions on ways to bolster development and foster long-term success in the Granite State.

Energy, Environmental, Fiscal/Tax, Econcomic Development and Human Resources/Health Care/Workforce were the headlining areas of concern focused upon at the meeting.

The event was facilitated by both BIA President Jim Roche and BIA Senior Vice President David A. Juvet. Each year, the BIA launches its annual policy development process with roundtable discussions throughout the state.

The roundtables are an open forum for business and opinion leaders to talk about their top challenges and concerns and help shape the BIA's legislative and regulatory agenda for the upcoming legislative session.

On Thursday, those in attendance, including Lisa DeStefano, owner of DeStefano Architects, and state Sen. Martha Fuller Clark, D-Portsmouth, went around the room and offered insight into their concerns on economic development.

"Pressure on state tax revenues" and the "cost of health care and health insurance" were two areas where business leaders focused their attention.

Bill Hurley, owner of Infinite Imaging, said he believes that although the many concerns are legitimate, their solutions should be looked at in terms of the long term and not just as quick fixes.

"A little bit at a time will make the difference," he said.

Hurley added that the cost of energy, price of health care and environmental impacts are all interrelated in some fashion in terms of how they affect business, and there isn't just one solution.

"We need to whittle away at them," said Hurley.

According to Roche, the many suggestions received were a vital piece of the puzzle and would be passed along to his policy committee in hopes of coming up with a strong agenda to present at the upcoming legislative session.

Recent successful products of the roundtable include the Research and Development Tax Credit, which was passed by the Legislature in order to draw more business to the state.

As economic times only continue to fluctuate across the state and the impact of energy and health care costs consistently play a major role, Roche and Juvet maintain the roundtables need to be proactive when it comes to working with the Legislature to ensure change.

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