On Wednesday, September 14th, Massachusetts Senate President Stan Rosenberg (D-Amherst) and Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester) announced the appointments of Senators and retailers to the Senate Task Force on Strengthening Massachusetts Local Retail. The task force was established to work with the Senate to identify ways to help local retailers become more competitive.
Senator Julian Cyr (D-Truro) is one of five state Senators appointed by Senate President Rosenberg to the task force, along with Senator Michael Rodrigues, who will serve as Chair, and Senators Mike Barrett, Jason Lewis, and Kathleen O’Connor-Ives. Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr appointed Senators Vinny DeMacedo and Don Humason.
“Growing up in my family business, I have a deep appreciation for the unique challenges and opportunities facing small businesses in the Commonwealth,” said Senator Cyr. “Local retail shop owners are struggling to maintain a decent share of the market, while competing with the pervasiveness of online shopping. Communities like Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard, and Nantucket experience the added difficulty of navigating seasonal fluctuations. I am grateful to have a seat at the table in these bipartisan discussions.”
“We are very excited to bring these business leaders from the retail world in to work with labor unions and Senators,” said Senate President Stan Rosenberg. “We are committing to finding solutions to the struggles local retailers are facing in this ever-changing economy.”
“Retailers are critical to the success of our main streets and our economy, providing 1 in 5 jobs in our state,” said Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr. “This sector is facing many challenges, and the situation demands the type of collaborative approach the task force will bring to bear on those challenges.”
The retailers appointed by Senate President Rosenberg are Judy Herrell, owner of Herrell’s Ice Cream in Northampton, Peter Kavanaugh of La-Z-Boy Furniture Galleries in Dartmouth, Barry S. Rotman, Board Chair of Rotman’s Furniture in Worcester, and Malcolm Sherman, a retail consultant with expertise in turning around struggling businesses. The retailers appointed by Senate Minority Leader Tarr are Christopher Carlozzi, State Director of the National Federation of Independent Business, John Cahill of Landry & Arcani Rugs in Salem, and Christopher Connolly, President of the Massachusetts State Automobile Dealers Association.
The remaining appointees are Jim Carvalho, Political Director of the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1445, Harris Gruman, Executive Director of the SEIU Massachusetts State Council, and Jon Hurst, President of the Retailers Association of Massachusetts.
The Task Force will address a number of key factors, including challenges faced by local retailers in competing against online sellers, closures of local retailers and the impact that has on local economies and property tax bases, initiatives by local retailers to increase their market share, and how state and local governments can encourage purchases from local retailers.
One member will also represent the Retailers Association of Massachusetts. Outside experts with expertise in business and economics may also be consulted to assist the Task Force in facilitating its work.
The Task Force will report back to the Senate President and Senate Minority Leader by June 1, 2018.