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Business Perspective: Return of BIA public policy roundtables to give legislative voice to employers

Business Perspective: Return of BIA public policy roundtables to give legislative voice to employers

Talks scheduled for June after 2020 hiatus due to COVID

Employers have had a lot to deal with the past several years, not the least of which was doing everything possible to stay in business during the darkest days of the COVID-19 pandemic. They’re also dealing with staffing shortages, supply chain disruptions, inflation, business taxation and a variety of state and federal regulations.

Given this, employers could be forgiven for not focusing on state public policy, especially proposals and initiatives that could have a direct positive or negative impact on their abilities to remain profitable. And yet it has never been more important for employers to be a part of the public policy process. Legislators now more than ever need to hear from employers on business legislation.

Already this session we’ve seen proposals to require employers to pay for accrued but unused vacation time; legislation raising the minimum wage, and other proposals that would upend non-compete agreements that currently exist between employers and employees. Myriad other bills may not directly affect employers, but they certainly have an impact on the business environment we all operate in; issues like workforce housing and education.

We know how busy employers are, which is why we’re working hard to find practical ways business can learn and get more involved in public policy development.

After a COVID interruption in 2020, the Business & Industry Association, New Hampshire's statewide chamber of commerce and leading business advocate, is bringing back its public policy business roundtables. They’re normally held every two years ahead of New Hampshire’s legislative elections. We’re holding 10 around the state in cooperation with statewide trade associations and local/regional chambers of commerce. The roundtables are held in the state’s distinctive areas because we know business concerns in northern New Hampshire, for example, are often far different than those in the more metropolitan southern tier. The roundtables will take place over a three-week period in June, and each is scheduled for one hour and 30 minutes. In pre-COVID years, we would often hear from 300 to 400 businesses collectively at the talks.

Any employer is invited to participate. Registration is required for planning purposes, but there’s no fee for participating. Topics run the gamut from energy and environmental issues, human resource concerns, the regulatory environment, economic development, even how New Hampshire should prioritize funding for state programs. The roundtables serve a critical role for BIA in shaping its legislative agenda.

The roundtables are fairly uncomplicated and divided into three parts. The first allows employers to discuss the challenges they face in operating their companies. Many times, there are common issues, others are sometimes “small business” issues versus larger business concerns. In the second part, after a thorough airing of concerns, roundtable participants are asked to rank the concerns identified in terms of priority; what are urgent issues as opposed to significant, but lessor concerns. The third and final part is to brainstorm possible action steps BIA and other business advocates might consider to achieve positive change.

Top concerns expressed by New Hampshire’s business community have ebbed and flowed over the years. The cost of healthcare benefits for employees, the high cost of electricity in the Northeast, the lack of available and affordable workforce housing, lack of childcare options for working families, and workforce shortages have all been considered top business concerns.

What will emerge from this year’s roundtables? That’s in large part up to you through your participation. We hope as many employers as possible participate and contribute to a robust discussion that can help shape legislative action at the State House for the next two years.

The roundtable schedule by date, time and host organizations is:

Tuesday, June 7, 9 a.m., Greater Concord Chamber of Commerce

Tuesday, June 7, 1 p.m., Lakes Region (Laconia), Wolfeboro Area, Meredith chambers of commerce, and Lakes Region Tourism Association

Wednesday, June 8, 9 a.m., Western White Mountains (Lincoln/North Woodstock) and White Mountains (North Conway) chambers of commerce

Thursday, June 9, 9 a.m., Upper Valley Business Association (Lebanon)

Tuesday, June 14, 9 a.m., Greater Salem and Greater Derry Londonderry chambers of commerce

Tuesday, June 14, 1 p.m., Hampton Area, Greater Portsmouth and Exeter Area chambers of commerce

Wednesday, June 15, 9 a.m., Greater Nashua, Greater Hudson and Greater Merrimack-Souhegan Valley chambers of commerce

Wednesday, June 15, 1 p.m., Greater Keene and Peterborough Chamber of Commerce

Tuesday, June 21, 9 a.m., Greater Manchester Chamber

Tuesday, June 21, 1 p.m., Greater Rochester, Greater Dover and The Falls (Somersworth) chambers of commerce

Specific locations for each roundtable and registration information are on BIA’s website at

Michael Skelton is president & CEO of the Business & Industry Association.

Additional Info

Media Contact : Rick Fabrizio,

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