Chamber CEO receives NEACCE Chamber Executive of the Year Award

Rick Kidder was selected by a committee of his peers from five states to be awarded the “Chamber Executive of the Year” for New England, 2017.  Kidder has 17 years of experience in Chamber work.  Kidder worked at the Scottsdale Chamber in Arizona for 15 years before joining the SouthCoast Chamber and relocating to his home state of Massachusetts. He is on his third year as President & CEO of the SouthCoast Chamber and has led the organization through a successful re-brand, created new membership benefits and initiatives, strengthened the Chamber’s advocacy efforts and more. In order to receive the New England Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives Award, a candidate must show leadership in variety of areas including staff development, collaboration in the community and ability to overcome organization challenges.

Kidder was nominated for the award by the staff at the SouthCoast Chamber.  They wrote the nomination and secured a letter of support from Chair Elect, Kim Perry of Waring-Sullivan Funeral Home.

Kidder said, “The real honor was being nominated by my staff and Board, but to be recognized by one’s peers is extra special. The goal of any CEO of a Chamber is to serve the business community, become an integral part of the area he/she serves and elevate the profile of the Chamber to the benefit of all.”

Kidder was honored at a dinner during the annual NEACCE Conference in Windsor, CT on November 13, 2017.  Over 125 Chamber professionals from around New England were present.

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Job Skills You Forgot to Polish

You’ve got your degree and certifications and are ready to work but still can’t find a job.
Interview after interview you walk away hoping for an offer that never comes. What gives?
Chances are, your soft skills don’t match the hard facts of your resume. Soft skills are in
demand in all industries from construction to accounting, so they are worth a little extra
attention. Read the full document here: Job Skills You Forgot to Polish


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National Disability Employment Awareness Month

October is National Disability Employment Awareness month.

The National Disability Employment Awareness Month is led by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy. National Disability Employment Awareness Month has had its origins since 1945. In 1988 President Regan issued Executive Order 12640 which renamed the effort to “President’s Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities”. Employers of all sizes and in all industries are encouraged to participate in National Disability Employment Awareness Month.

Our SouthCoast Chamber members can support National Disability Employment Awareness Month, by visiting the Office of Disability Employment Policy website at They offer many simple suggestions such as putting up a poster to more intricate ideas such as implementing a disability education program within your company. Any and all efforts will play an important part in fostering a more inclusive workforce, one where every person is recognized for his or her abilities. All members of the SouthCoast Chamber are encouraged to participate. The purpose of National Disability Employment Awareness Month is to educate about disability employment issues and celebrate the many and varied contributions of America’s workers with disabilities.

If you have any questions about the SouthCoast Chamber Supported Employment Network or you are interested in hiring a person with disabilities, please call Joanne Rego at the SouthCoast Chamber at 508-999-5231 extension 28. You can also call one of our Supported Employment Network member’s job developer directly by calling Mark Jardin at LifeStream, Inc. at 508-991-4840, Cynthia Rapoza at M.O.Life, Inc. at 508-742-8986 or Maurice Charbonneau at Better Community Living, Inc. at 508-999-4300.

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Health Care Consortium Planning Underway for $250K Training Grant

submitted by the Greater New Bedford Workforce Investment Board

The Greater New Bedford Workforce Investment Board (GNBWIB) in collaboration with the Bristol Community College workforce center is currently embarking on a Health Care Training Consortium for healthcare organizations on the South Coast.

The consortium, headed up by Paula Shiner, CEO of Coastline Elderly Services, Inc. and Chair of the Community Cross Continuum Collaborative (4C) has a purpose of assessing the training needs of healthcare organizations in Southeastern Massachusetts. Healthcare organizations range from Long Term Care to Rehabilitation to Social Services facilities. 4C training is aimed to upskill healthcare workers to meet the demands of the many changing forces within the healthcare industry.

The end result is an anticipated funding grant from Commonwealth Corporation of up to $250,000 for training. Tax credits may also be available to qualifying businesses.

Healthcare organizations with the need for employees training that will help make your organization run more efficiently or help you gain that competitive edge is encouraged to learn more and join the consortium. For more information or to join the Consortium and training grant, please contact Donna Ramos with GNBWIB at 508-979-1504 Ext 113 to learn more.

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Membership 101 – Welcome New Members!

By Ian Abreu, Manager of Business Development & Public Policy

Greetings, all new members of our Chamber.

We are fortunate to have you as a member of our esteemed organization and look forward to helping you achieve additional success in your business!

For those of you who just joined us (or who are considering joining us), you still may be asking yourself: “What is the chamber, and what do they do?,” or, “How can they help me?”

If you’re asking yourself those questions, don’t worry, many other first-time members have as well!

I am more than happy to not only answer those questions for you, but also, further explain a little bit more about our mission.

Our primary goal? To help business owners network, grow and build its “book of business.” No matter which market you are interested in entertaining, the SouthCoast Chamber can help satisfy your appetite.

Do you have “business to business” needs?

We can help!

Every month, our Chamber hosts the very successful “Business After Hours” networking mixer at a local area Chamber member business. “Business After Hours” facilitates the development of personal relationships, which enables individuals to stand out and rise above today’s multitude of advertising white noise. Networking is one of the most affordable means of marketing resulting in invaluable personal referrals and word-of-mouth advertising.

Do you have “business to consumer” needs?

We can help!

Every March, the Chamber hosts its annual “Greater New Bedford Home, Health and Wellness Show,” which is one of the largest and most promoted events of the year! This is an ideal way for more than 2,000 area residents to learn about and connect with local home, health and wellness service and product providers to discover solutions to all their home, health and wellness needs. Businesses are provided with multiple opportunities to promote their business and showcase their expertise.

Is your company expanding and are you in the market to hire?

We can help!

The Chamber, the Greater New Bedford Career Center, Greater New Bedford Workforce Investment Board and Bristol Community College hosts its annual “SouthCoast Job Fair” every springtime. Our largest career event of the year, the “SouthCoast Job Fair” event will provide your business with an opportunity to interact one on one with a large group of talented job seekers. Our goal is to help you make connections to meet the workforce needs of your businesses. At the 2017 “SouthCoast Job Fair”, the event helped connect over 100 local, regional and national employers with over 500 area residents and job seekers.

How about some free monthly professional development programming? Government affairs advocacy on the local, state and federal level? Engaging young professionals? Member-to-Member discounts? Chamber-sponsored international trips?
Yup—you guessed it. We can, and we will help!

Whether it’s offering our free monthly “Friday Forum” to our members and their friends, connecting our members to all branches of government to make their voices heard, tailoring specific events to engage young professionals in our community, incentivizing commerce amongst our members by offering exclusive “member-to-member” discounted deals, or locking in group rates for international travel and vacationing, the SouthCoast Chamber has been, and always will be, your “go-to” source.

What this article contains is just a very, very brief snapshot of what we do, and, quite frankly, with the services and value we provide to not only dues-paying members, but for the community at-large, this piece would fill up this entire newsletter with relative ease.
If you are currently in business in the SouthCoast region (Wareham to Westport) and are not a member of the SouthCoast Chamber you should strongly consider it.

Being a member of the SouthCoast Chamber is important on so many levels. You are not only supporting your community, but you are also promoting economic growth in our region.

For less than $1 a day in most cases, it’ll be the most cost-effective and valued investment on your budget sheet.

We guarantee it.

If you would like more information about how you can become a member of the SouthCoast Chamber, please contact Ian Abreu, Manager of Business Development & Public Policy at: (508) 999-5231, ext. 24, or, via email at


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October Good Morning SouthCoast! “Immigration in the SouthCoast: Where Are We?”

Start your day off right with a fast paced, business oriented, educational seminar! The Chamber’s popular Good Morning SouthCoast!, breakfast event will be held at the Wamsutta Club, located at 427 County Street, New Bedford, MA on October 19th, from 7:30 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. Join us for a buffet-style breakfast while staying up-to-date on matters that involve our community and businesses. This edition of Good Morning SouthCoast is dedicated to the state of immigration and how it affects the South Coast as a whole.  Immigration is a complex subject that is particularly relevant to our community and local economic climate.  The event will feature two keynote speakers. Bristol County Sheriff Thomas M. Hodgson will offer his insight and knowledge on the direction of immigration within the region.  Helena Hughes, Executive Director of the Immigrants’ Assistance Center will share her expertise on immigration, the intricacy of the process, and the stigmas attached. Learn from those who work directly with immigrants daily during and after the immigration process as they elaborate on this topic.

Thomas M. Hodgson, a law enforcement and corrections professional with extensive management, marketing and business experience was appointed Sheriff of Bristol County, May 21, 1997 by Gov. William F. Weld and was sworn in officially June 2, 1997 by then Lt. Gov. Argeo Paul Cellucci.

In 1994, Sheriff Hodgson, a former Maryland Police Lieutenant for Special Operations, joined the staff of the Bristol County Sheriff’s Office and served as Deputy Superintendent of Investigations. He also served five years as a Councilor-at-Large on the New Bedford City Council.

Upon assuming the role of High Sheriff of Bristol County, Sheriff Hodgson immediately set out to implement his goals for corrections reform, public safety and raising the standards for the Bristol County Sheriff’s Office to enhance the primary mission of care and custody of inmates. He instituted structured discipline for the inmate population and expanded the Work Release programs to include graffiti removal.

Helena DaSilva Hughes became Executive Director of the Immigrant’s Assistance Center (IAC) in 1996, after over 32 years of experience working with the Immigrants’ Assistance Center and the immigrant community. Born in Portugal, she immigrated to the United States with her family at the age of ten. Ms. Hughes has a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and a minor in Paralegal Studies from Newbury College, and she a Leadership SouthCoast Graduate. She is committed to researching immigrants’ needs and developing programs to enhance the community potential. Her solid marketing background and program development experience have been invaluable to help her meet these goals.

Ms. Hughes developed a number of programs to assist immigrants in the community. The information exchange for Portuguese citizens (and later including Cape Verde) regarded legal, permanent residents that where being deported due to laws enacted in 1996. The AMIGOS project was developed to address the dropout rate of students who did not speak English as their first language. Ms. Hughes has spoken about issues pertaining to the immigrant population at numerous events and locations including Congress, universities and conferences in Washing D.C., Azores and Lisbon.

Ms. Hughes is active in the local community and involved in a number of boards. She has also been the recipient of various prestigious awards both locally and internationally.

Join us for this extremely informative Good Morning SouthCoast Breakfast Program on October 19, 2017 at the Wamsutta Club at 7:30 am.

In addition to the program, a full breakfast buffet will be available. Tickets are $27.50 for members, $45 non-members and $250 for a table of ten. Sponsorships are also available on all levels and a great way to gain exposure for your organization.  For more information, contact Deven Q. Robitaille at 508-999-5231 ext 26 or email Register online here.

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Position Statement on Innovation Partnership Zones

The SouthCoast Chamber has created a position statement on H. 304 and S. 279 to establish “Innovation Partnership Zones” (modeled on the Springfield Empowerment Zone) where low performing schools would be granted greater autonomy.

Adopted: 9/1/2017

The Joint Committee on Education is considering two bills that could have a significant impact for struggling schools in New Bedford, H. 304 sponsored by Representative Alice Peisch and S. 279 filed by Senator Eric Lesser.

Evidence from other countries, and the Commonwealth’s own experience with turnaround schools, indicates that schools which have the freedom and flexibility to make key decisions about staffing, schedule, curriculum and budgets, alongside clear accountability for outcomes, are in the best position to decide how to improve student outcomes.

The SouthCoast Chamber supports giving school leaders, particularly in our district’s low-income and struggling schools, the authority and flexibility they need to innovate and decide how to meet the needs and aspirations of their students on a daily basis. Too many school leaders and educators cannot achieve success for their students because their hands are tied by district, state, and contractual requirements that make it impossible to act on their best ideas and intentions. As a result, far too many students are denied the education they need.

The current proposals to extend flexibility and authority through the creation of Innovation Partnership Zones do not go far enough – they severely limit the number of schools that can take advantage of these flexibilities and impose a cumbersome bureaucratic process that can be too easily politicized. The bottom line is current proposals will not meet the needs of thousands of students languishing in subpar schools or advance gains in our stronger schools.

The SouthCoast Chambersupports the extension of staffing, scheduling, curriculum and budgeting authority to all of the 265 underperforming (Level 3) schools in the Commonwealth that are currently denied these critical tools but are best positioned to improve learning.

We are asking you to support this position and the work we are doing with others in the business community to convince the members of the Joint Committee on Education to strengthen and amend the bills into one that can make a real difference for our students and community.

While this statement is policy as of the effective date of this document, the Chamber reserves the right to adopt changes and make modifications and additions to its policies, and will continue to monitor issues as they develop.

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Join us for the New Bedford Seaport Chowder Festival! – October 8th

Don’t miss all of the excitement at the New Bedford Seaport Chowder Festival on Sunday, October 8th under the tent on City Pier 3 in the historic Port of New Bedford. Roughly, twenty local food establishments will be serving up delicious samples of their signature chowders, soups and quahogs. Amongst last year’s participants returning to defend their prestigious “Chowderfest Titles” are: The Black Whale, Freestone’s, Cove Surf & Turf, Brazilian Grill, Mike’s Restaurant and Tia Maria’s European Cafe. These distinguished competitors will be up against new comers SouthCoast Behavioral Health, The Moby Dick Brewery, and Carmines Italian Ristorante to name a few. The impressive list of contenders is growing daily, guaranteeing an enthusiastic friendly competition. Engage in the exciting competition by voting for your favorite chowders, soups and quahogs from several local establishments!

After the voting ends, the fun continues with antique fire truck rides, children’s face painting, exciting lobster races, gift certificate raffles, live music from local band “Business Time”, beer, wine, cocktails and a variety of desserts. Tickets are $15 prior to the event and $18 the day of. Tickets are available online here.


They can also be purchased at a variety of locations that can be found on the Chamber website. For more information on attending or participating in the New Bedford Seaport Chowder Festival, call the SouthCoast Chamber at 508-999-5231. Come and enjoy this highly anticipated community event with your friends and family!

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South Coast Businesses Unite for Victims of Hurricane Harvey

The South Coast of Massachusetts is no stranger to the ravages of hurricanes, having been hit hard in the past with devastating results. The hurricanes of 1938 and 1954 wreaked havoc in our area and other hurricanes have been “just misses”.  Harvey has caused monumental losses of property and lives in Texas, and we are looking for our members to step up and provide some much needed assistance in their time of need.

The Chamber has a non-profit charitable arm, the New Bedford Chamber Foundation, a tax-deductible 501.c.3 entity through which we are looking for contributions of any amount to aid the victims of Hurricane Harvey. 100% of the proceeds of this fundraising efforts will be sent to the American Red Cross, and we will publicize the names of the contributors so our community knows that you care.

Please make a check out to New Bedford Chamber Foundation and mail to the SouthCoast Chamber at 794 Purchase Street, New Bedford, MA 02740. We will, in turn, aggregate the funds and send on to the American Red Cross in the name of the South Coast business community.

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The High Cost of Electricity is a Major Issue Impacting Massachusetts Businesses

Submitted by the Southeastern Massachusetts Chamber of Commerce Alliance
(Bristol County Chamber of Commerce, Cape Cod Canal Region Chamber of Commerce and SouthCoast Chamber)

The High Cost of Electricity is a Major Issue Impacting Massachusetts Businesses

The objective of the Southeastern Massachusetts Chamber of Commerce Alliance (SMCCA) is to increase the visibility of chamber member businesses on Beacon Hill and Washington D.C. The alliance is also intended to serve as a platform to work with members of the legislative delegation on policy formation as well as response to existing initiatives put forth at the statewide or national level that directly affect Southeastern Massachusetts. A long standing issue of great concern impacting Massachusetts businesses and residents alike within southeastern Massachusetts has been the outrageously high cost of electricity. Cheap electricity is available throughout much of the United States. It is not the case in Massachusetts.

A major factor driving up the cost of electricity is high demand without adequate infrastructure to support consumption. That problem is getting worse due to the continued decommissioning of primary power plants with no real time replacements. The consequence is that pricing is going up again in the state that already has the highest costs for electricity in the continental United States.

The pricing situation is particularly acute in Southeastern Massachusetts where the Brayton Point Station in Somerset, once the litigation target of the Conservation Law Foundation, is now permanently offline. While the decommissioning of Brayton Point has been a great victory for environmentalists, this 1,530-megawatt power plant was the primary producer of electricity in the Southeastern Massachusetts. The termination of both the Brayton Point and the Montaup Electric Co. plant power plants in Somerset leaves Southeastern Massachusetts with no means of producing reliable energy and equates to a greater than 2000 megawatts net loss of electricity production in Massachusetts.

After years of advocacy, state government has finally begun to address the issue of electricity infrastructure. Please know that the trending away from “dirty” fossil fuels is recognized as a good thing by the collective membership of the Southeastern Massachusetts Chamber of Commerce Alliance and many other corporate citizens within Massachusetts. That is why the Cape Cod Canal Region, SouthCoast and Bristol County chambers of commerce were strong proponents for the energy bill that became the new state procurement law in 2016. With the recent submission of numerous on-shore wind, hydropower and off-shore wind proposals as part of the Commonwealth’s long term “Clean Energy” solicitation it is also important not to neglect our immediate needs.

What was hoped for by many business groups and ratepayers is a pragmatic policy that reduces or at least stabilizes electricity costs, while also looking ahead to sustainability. From the perspective of Southeastern Massachusetts the opposite looks to be the case as future sustainability has clearly superseded costs. That is why it is asked that the expansion of natural gas infrastructure should no longer be put aside solely for political convenience.

Leveraging gas in combination with the expansion of green alternatives is a reasonable option that can be used to contain the high cost of electricity while also meeting environmental aspirations. There is no reason why Massachusetts cannot be practical and forward thinking by moving forward on both fronts simultaneously. Lack of action on this issue of infrastructure has been a key factor in raising electricity costs, which most certainly has been impacting the Massachusetts economy. Now is the time for action.



Rick Kidder
President and Chief Executive Officer
SouthCoast Chamber

Marie Oliva
President and Chief Executive Officer
Cape Cod Canal Region Chamber of Commerce

Robert A. Mellion, Esq.
President and Chief Executive Officer
Bristol County Chamber of Commerce


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