Taxes, energy top concerns at BIA forums

Taxes and high energy costs topped the list of concerns of businesspeople who participated in the Business & Industry Association’s series of forums held around around the state in June.

Other critical issues facing businesspeople in the state were the lack of affordable housing and high health-care costs, according to the association.

“Business leaders continue to be faced with deep, complex issues like health care, energy costs and a constricting labor pool,” said Jim Roche, the BIA’s president. “They all point to the difficult challenge of operating a successful business in today’s competitive, global marketplace. Many of these issues don’t lend themselves to quick solutions. Nonetheless, they are foremost on the minds of New Hampshire business owners, managers and senior executives. Therefore, we’ll continue to focus our resources on helping to resolve them.”

According to Roche, the issues mentioned most frequently as key challenges for New Hampshire businesses were:

• Threat of income, sales or higher business taxes
• High cost of energy and fuels
• Lack of affordable housing for workers (i.e. workforce housing)
• High health-care and health insurance costs
• Constricted labor pool slowing business growth
• Inadequate high-speed telecommunications infrastructure
• High property taxes
• Inadequate public transportation alternatives
• Insufficient state support for transportation infrastructure
• Desire to go green may impact profitability
• Lack of state incentives for utilizing renewables and green alternatives

The forums were the first step in the BIA’s annual four-step policy development process that will help the organization draw up its agenda for the 2008 legislative session. The BIA and its 20 chamber of commerce partners conducted 14 roundtables in every region of the state.

The second phase of the policy development process will be a survey of BIA members based on the roundtable results. After the survey is completed, BIA policy committees will analyze the survey results and recommend specific issues and action steps to BIA’s board of directors. – JEFF FEINGOLD

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