If you're out of a job, you know how hard it is to find a new one. As companies moving operations overseas, or even out of state, other countries are offering big incentives. So how does Massachusetts compete? And what kind of a business climate does the state have?
Boston Power in Westborough announced in September it was setting up a growing presence overseas. It cut more than two dozen jobs here and announced
expansion plans in China, where it received millions in incentives to build batteries for electric cars.
Then there's American Superconductor out of Devens.
It makes advanced technologies for wind turbines and utilities. It has set up its own workforce in China.
And remember Evergreen Solar?
The Marlborough based solar panel maker received a 58-million dollar financial aid package from the Patrick Administration
but ended up filing for bankruptcy and closing its Devens factory. 800-jobs lost. To cut costs, it moved some of its jobs to China where the
workforce is cheaper. "What China has and Massachusetts does not is the ability to subsidize a lot of different sectors," said Julian Chang, the executive
director of the Rajawali Foundation Institute for Asia at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government. He says China is able to lure
companies overseas, in part, because of its willingness to invest in emerging industries like green tech jobs. "China actually has been embarking on a national
endeavor to attract talent from overseas into China and so they're throwing money at it. They're throwing resources, non financial resources and they're trying to make the environment for working in China much better going forward than it was in the past."
On the Department of Labor's web site, you can see how overseas competition can hurt local companies.
You can sort by state the companies that have applied to receive federal assistance because in some way they have been hurt by foreign competition. Massachusetts isn't just competing with other countries. You may remember last March, Fidelity Investments announced it was moving eleven hundred jobs out of Marlborough and into neighboring New Hampshire and Rhode Island.
The Governor defends the business climate, saying "We are growing jobs faster than 44 other states. Our unemployment rate is well below the national average and going down."
Governor Patrick is set to leave on a trade mission to Brazil, a country with one of the fastest growing economies in the world.
He points to his last trade trip to Israel and the UK, with 75 new jobs launched, and promises of well over 100-more to be created.
"We've moved up to the sixth best place in the nation in which to do business...none of that is by accident. It's because we've been looking out. We've been cultivating businesses here and encouraging businesses from overseas to move here," Patrick added.
Ben Forman with MassInc says the state may be gaining high tech jobs, but what it's losing are middle income wage jobs.
"Because it's so expensive . Employers that want to hire a lot of people at moderate or average wages have a hard time finding employees that want to live in Massachusetts because it's harder to have a high standard of living," said Forman. He believes while major biotech and pharmaceutical companies set up here, state leaders could do more to make the business climate better. "It's easy to pass a billion dollar package of incentives and spread that money around. I think it's harder to do some of the reform and restructuring things that the average business person could really benefit from."
Andre Mayer is Senior Vice President for Research at Associated Industries of Massachusetts. He says sometimes, there can be a backlash against globalization.
He points to challenges with distance, direct communication and even though costs may be low now, they're beginning to creep up.
"There are going to be winners and losers," he said. "In globalization, everybody's going to be a winner and a loser, and our task is to make sure we win more than we lose."
While Massachusetts is known for its top notch universities, biotech companies and cutting edge innovations, experts say encouraging businesses to set up shop and stay will be the biggest challenge moving forward.