Council sharpens tool to focus on what really matters to tech companies

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BOSTON (STATE HOUSE) – Most Massachusetts technology executives view the state as a good place to do business with a business environment that is steady or improving, but the cost of doing business and transportation issues continue to pose risks for future growth, a new survey from the Massachusetts High Technology Council found.

The council’s inaugural Executive Competitiveness Insight Survey, conducted by KPMG in September, found 72 percent of executives surveyed rated Massachusetts as a good or excellent place to do business, and 90 percent said they feel the local business environment is “holding steady or improving.”

Asked what represents the “greatest potential risks” to their businesses, 71 percent of executives said the “cost of doing business” in Massachusetts is near the top of their list. Transportation issues – congested highways and public transit delays are common – were cited among the greatest risks by 54 percent of executives and 44 percent said the “available pool of skilled workforce” was among their chief concerns.

“We’re hearing directly from business leaders Massachusetts’s advantages — like our best-in-the-nation talent pool — can be offset by other more challenging factors including the high costs of doing business and the need to improve our transportation systems,” Christopher Anderson, president of the Mass. High Tech Council, said in a statement.

The survey results are being released Thursday in tandem with the unveiling of the Massachusetts Technology Talent and Economic Reporter System (MATTERS) 2.0, an updated online tool that aggregates more than 50 metrics to compare the business climate in Massachusetts to that in other states.

MATTERS was developed with guidance from the data science program at Worcester Polytechnic Institute and launched as a beta site in 2015. Anderson and Gary Beach, a Wall Street Journal columnist and High Tech Council Board member, are scheduled to conduct a demonstration of MATTERS 2.0 at 11 a.m. Thursday.

MATTERS 2.0 includes more than 20 new metrics and aims to consolidate cost, economic and talent metrics with independent national rankings to give executives, policymakers and researchers a single repository for information on the state’s competitiveness.

“At a glance, MATTERS allows us to evaluate Massachusetts’s competitive strengths and weaknesses in the context of the states we compete with for the same types of jobs and employers that populate our diverse technology economy,” Anderson told the News Service. “That context allows us to broaden the perspective that lawmakers typically have when they’re looking just at Massachusetts. Context is very helpful to see what is and isn’t being pursued effectively in states with similar economies.”

MATTERS 2.0 ranks each state and the District of Columbia on indices like talent, tax, cost of business and quality of life, the High Tech Council said. Those indices are based on things like STEM degrees per capita, state highway cost per mile, student performance on the National Assessment of Educational Progress and corporate income tax rates, according to the council.

MATTERS 2.0 data will be regularly updated with help from Worcester Polytechnic Institute and Brandeis University students, the council said.

Copyright 2016 State House News Service