News Article

Sannicandro: Give a hand to small businesses
Date: May 24, 2012
Author: Tom Sannicandro
Source: ( click here to go to the source)

Featured firm in this article: Biosurfaces Inc of Ashland, MA


It is National Small Business Week and to celebrate I've visited a number of small businesses in Ashland and Framingham, met with the owners, and heard about the good work they are doing.

Small businesses are vital to local economies. They provide jobs and services to communities and serve as engines of innovation that introduce new ideas and products to the marketplace.

The House of Representatives on Wednesday passed a jobs proposal that included an Innovation Investment Fund to support just that kind of innovation. The Innovation Investment Fund was taken from a bill I filed earlier this session. The Fund invests in the research that underpins the innovation driven, science and technology industries which fuel our state's economy.

The fund works by setting aside $50 million dollars for matching grants in research and technology at Massachusetts research universities and non-profit research centers. The fund would contribute $1 for every $3 raised from other sources, such as federal grants or private investment. The grants would go toward research and development projects that often work in conjunction with local companies or create spin-off companies in the state.

One such company I met with this week that could benefit from this grant money is Biosurfaces, Inc., an Ashland-based medical device manufacturer.

Currently, they're working on creating artificial arteries, tubing for hearts, and sutures for open wounds through a process called electrospinning. This process makes the material less irritating to the body and improves the healing process.

Biosurfaces works with UMass-Lowell on their research. It's through this partnership that Biosurfaces could benefit from the Innovation Investment Fund.

Even better, Biosurfaces employs Ashland high school students through a STEM grant offering specifically for women interested in STEM fields, providing them jobs and also encouraging their interest in STEM professions. They also employ college students and graduates from the area.

The bill we passed also includes proposals aimed specifically at supporting small business owners. It would create a central online portal for information on loan programs, business counseling, technical assistance, tax and permitting information, and sources of regulatory relief. The bill also requires small business review boards to provide formal feedback when rejecting a loan application.

This session, we have frozen the unemployment insurance rate for the year, kept tax rates low, and are currently conducting a comprehensive review of business regulations, which has already lead to the streamlining or elimination of more than 150 regulations. We are also in the midst of a debate on how to control costs in health care, a major issue for small business owners.

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