May 25th Information &
Resource Update
495/MetroWest Employer Survey Results Released:
Region's Employers Optimistic, Returning Workers to Sites

The 495/MetroWest Partnership and Framingham State University's MetroWest Economic Research Center (MERC) have released the results of the 2021 annual 495/MetroWest Employer Survey!

This survey represents a collaborative effort between the Partnership and MERC. Now in its 8th year, the survey has proven an important tool in gauging business confidence in the 495/MetroWest region and in forecasting future growth by regional employers, both in terms of hiring and site expansion.

Traditionally conducted in the Fall, the 2021 survey was conducted during the Spring, thus capturing employer intentions in a post-COVID world, as well as examining how employers weathered the pandemic. This year, 184 employers took part in the survey, representing an increase in participation over the prior two annual surveys.

Highlights from the survey:

  • Businesses in the region are optimistic; 83% believe the economy in the 495/MetroWest region will perform either significantly or slightly better over the course of the coming year. 10% expect it to remain the same, with only 7% concerned for the region’s outlook.

  • 70% of responding businesses expect their revenues to improve this year; 16% are uncertain, with 14% pessimistic.

  • 47% of businesses are either likely or definitely planning to grow their workforce in the 495/MetroWest region this year, with 46% unsure. Only 7% anticipated reducing area staffing.

  • Workforce needs most concerning to respondents were the skills gap of applicants, the need to replace an aging workforce, transportation, and housing.

  • Of employers who moved staff to remote work during the pandemic, 85% intend to return all or some to working on-site. Only 5% intend to keep all staff working remotely; the remaining 10% were undecided.

  • 57% of respondent businesses received some type of government financial assistance during the pandemic; the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) was the most commonly-cited source.

  • 47% of 2021 survey respondents expect to hire additional staff in the 495/MetroWest region over the coming year; this compares favorably to prior years that saw strong GDP growth in Massachusetts, and tied or surpassed the rate planning to do additional hiring in 5 of the prior 7 annual surveys.

Click here to access a graphical summary of the survey results. Special thanks to the team at MERC for their collaboration on this year's survey.

The region’s chambers of commerce assisted in promoting this year’s survey to their members; our sincere thanks to the Corridor 9/495 Regional Chamber of Commerce, the MetroWest Chamber of Commerce, the Marlborough Regional Chamber of Commerce, the Milford Area Chamber of Commerce, the Assabet Valley Chamber of Commerce, the Hopkinton Chamber of Commerce, and the Nashoba Valley Chamber of Commerce.
Legislature Advances Bill to Address UI Solvency Issue

Last week, the state House and Senate each unanimously passed legislation that will provide additional financial relief to Massachusetts businesses facing substantial pandemic-related increases in their unemployment insurance bills.

The high number of unemployment claims filed during the COVID-19 state of emergency prompted a statutorily-mandated increase in the formula used to calculate an employer’s experience rating. As a result, the annual unemployment insurance solvency fund assessment jumped from 0.58% to 9.23% for 2021, representing a 1591% increase. The legislation that cleared the House last Tuesday and the Senate on Thursday would mitigate the UI rate increase by spreading the costs over a 20-year period, effectively reducing the assessment for businesses from 9.23% to 1.12%.

Under the compromise plan, a new COVID claims account will be set up to handle existing COVID claims that had been placed in the solvency account. The Department of Unemployment Assistance will recalculate first-quarter UI bills to reflect these changes, with payment on these bills due by July 31st. Beginning August 1st, new UI claims will be charged directly to employers’ accounts.

The bill also advances a COVID-19 emergency paid sick leave program that covers municipal employees. The legislation, H. 3702, is now before the Governor for his signature or veto.
MAPC Seeking Input on MetroCommon 2050

The Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC), Greater Boston’s regional planning agency, is currently seeking feedback on MetroCommon 2050, a slate of policy proposals for the region long-term. From MAPC:

"MetroCommon 2050 is a 30-year plan to achieve goals for equity, jobs, housing, transportation, climate, and much more. The plan will include policies and actions that state and local governments, institutions, non-profits, the private sector, and even individuals can take.  

MAPC has drafted recommendations in 18 policy areas. Take the survey to read through recommendations in your area of interest, and indicate whether they sound right for the region, whether they can use some tweaking, and whether there’s anything that should be added."  

Transportation Capital Investment Plan (CIP) Virtual Public Meetings

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) and the MBTA are currently developing a one year maintenance of effort Capital Investment Plan (CIP), that guides how the Commonwealth prioritizes and funds local and statewide transportation projects. The CIP programs state and federal funds to pay for long-term improvements to the transportation system. The CIP is usually a five-year plan that is updated annually. However, due to the lingering economic challenges facing the Commonwealth as we address the impacts of COVID-19, this year’s CIP is a one-year maintenance of effort plan for State Fiscal Year 2022. Click here to access the 2022 CIP.

Your input can inform project design and helps MassDOT understand the level of community support for proposed projects, ensuring that MassDOT’s investments align with the needs and priorities of all Massachusetts residents. There are several ways to participate at
  • Take part in a Virtual Public Meeting (details below)
  • Send an email with your comments to: MASSCIP@STATE.MA.US
  • Explore projects included in the CIP and provide comments online using the CIP Comment Tool

Comments must be received by June 7th, 2021. Virtual Public Meetings relative to the 495/MetroWest Partnership service area:
SBA to Host Small Business Info & Strategy Session

The Small Business Administration (SBA) & Public Private Strategies Institute (PPSI) are providing several educational opportunities for small business owners to learn more about programs designed to help businesses get back on track.

SBA and PPSI will host a series of regional webinars that will include:
  • What steps you can take now to learn and take advantage of new and existing programs that are available at the SBA
  • Updates regarding programs and recent policy announcements made by the Biden-Harris Administration
  • Q&A with SBA Leadership & small business experts
  • Information on vaccination efforts
  • Tools and resources to enhance your business' digital capacity

These sessions are open to any small business owner & leader. The sessions are being hosted by SBA Region; the Region 1 (New England) session will be held on Thursday, July 8th at 2:00 PM. Click here to register for the New England session.
Upcoming & Recent Partnership Events

All Partnership events and committee meetings are being held virtually, via Zoom, at present. Committee meetings are open to all interested persons with advance registration.

Recent Events:

  • Climate Legislation Presentation with Secretary Theoharides: On May 18th, the 495/MetroWest Partnership hosted a special presentation from Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Kathleen A. Theoharides on An Act Creating a Next-Generation Roadmap for Massachusetts Climate Policy, major climate legislation signed into law earlier this year. Click here to access a recording of this event.

Upcoming Events:

  • Housing Committee, Submarkets Presentation and Discussion: The Housing Committee of the 495/MetroWest Partnership invites you to a presentation and discussion with MAPC focused on their Housing Submarkets study, and submarket-specific strategies to create more affordable housing. This event will take place virtually via Zoom on Wednesday, June 9th from 8:30 AM to 9:30 AM. Presenting on behalf of MAPC will be Karina Oliver-Milchman, AICP, Chief of Housing & Neighborhood Development, and Jessie Partridge Guerrero, Research Manager. The presentation will be followed by a Q&A period, as well as a discussion. Click here to register for this event.
Investor Spotlight: Kleinfelder

Throughout the Spring, the 495/MetroWest Partnership is acknowledging our Investors in our Information & Resource Updates. Click here to learn about becoming an Investor!
Founded in 1961, Kleinfelder is an engineering, science, and architectural consultancy with 2,400 employees in nearly 90 offices across the U.S., Australia, and Canada, with a New England staff of more than 250 employees committed to supporting our clients in the 495/MetroWest Area. Kleinfelder has emphasized a strong focus on client relationships, commitment to high-quality work, and safe project execution throughout its 60 years of being in the industry. Find out more at

The 495/MetroWest Partnership thanks Kleinfelder for their SUPPORTER level investment! Check out our full list of Investors at
As always, please do not hesitate to reach out if the Partnership can be of any assistance to you:
Jason Palitsch, Executive Director
(774) 760-0495 x105

Thank you for your continued commitment to strengthening our region.