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Boston, MA — Consumer Affairs’ Agencies & Licensees Contribute to this Sector’s Vitality
In recognition of National Small Business Week, Undersecretary John Chapman of the Baker-Polito Administration’s Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation joined with representatives from the Massachusetts Association of Vocational Administrators, Eastern Bank and the Massachusetts Association of Insurance Agents at the Greater Lawrence Technical School in Andover to showcase some of the ways that the Office of Consumer Affairs’ regulatory agencies and their licensees help small businesses get started, grow and thrive.
“Small Business Week highlights the important impact small businesses have on our economy and communities,” said Undersecretary Chapman. “We’re here at Greater Lawrence Tech because it is schools like this one that are the starting point for fostering small business creation. Once graduated, many of these students will interact with our regulated agencies and their licensees on their way to launching and growing their own businesses.”
Also joining Secretary Chapman were Charles Borstel, Director of the Division of Professional Licensure, David Cotney, Commissioner of Banks, Daniel Judson, Commissioner of Insurance and host John Lavoie, Superintendent of the Greater Lawrence Technical School.
“I’m continually struck by the amazing opportunities our students have in school and upon graduation, and I’m so grateful for the role our partners – educational, professional and industry – play in those opportunities,” said Superintendent Lavoie. “We provide local employers with the skilled, competent workers they desperately need, often allowing them to expand and create greater economic opportunity. The most important thing we do together is teach and support our students, who graduate from here and go to college or the workforce as productive citizens ready to contribute to the strength and economic growth of our communities.”
David Ferreira, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Association of Vocational Administrators, spoke about the roles vocational schools and students play in stimulating small business growth. “A vocational, technical or agricultural education is a key component of the state’s workforce development pipeline, particularly for small businesses. More than 75 percent of our skilled graduates are employed by small businesses and those employers are typically members of the schools’ advisory boards.”
“Vocational education prepares students to become the licensed professionals of tomorrow,” noted Charles Borstel, Director of the Division of Professional Licensure. “They come to our agency with the skills and knowledge they need to receive their license to practice or start a small business.”
The Division of Professional Licensure oversees 28 boards of registration that license more than 370,000 individuals and businesses in about 50 different trades and professions.
The Division of Banks regulates state-chartered banks, including Eastern Bank, which is the largest small business lender in Massachusetts. Current Small Business Administration data shows that Eastern Bank has issued more than four times the number of small business loans and nearly double the gross dollar amount as its closest lending competitor.
“Small business lending is not just a business strategy at Eastern Bank – it’s a central part of our mission to help good people and businesses prosper,” said Eastern Bank’s Steven Antonakes, Senior Vice President and Chief Compliance Officer. “We’re especially excited about our ‘Express Business Loan,’ a new product that allows qualifying small business owners the opportunity to secure a $100,000 loan within five minutes.”
Independent insurance agents are small businesses serving the insurance needs of small businesses. Francis Mancini, President and CEO of the Massachusetts Association of Insurance Agents spoke to how insurance agents serve as the primary insurance advisor to most small businesses in Massachusetts.
“One of the primary building blocks for the foundation of a small business is a comprehensive insurance program. All small businesses are unique and their insurance programs must reflect the potential claims they may experience,” said Mr. Mancini. “Independent insurance agents guide small businesses through the complex package of coverages that will provide protection in the event of the unexpected.”
The economic impact of the state’s independent agent insurance system is tremendous – the financial contribution to the Massachusetts economy in 2014 was more than $1 billion.
The Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation is committed to protecting consumers through consumer advocacy and education, and also works to ensure that the businesses its agencies regulate treat all Massachusetts consumers fairly. Follow the office at its blog, on Facebook, and on Twitter @Mass Consumer.