Microsoft hosted a breakfast roundtable with Attorney General Martha Coakley on Tuesday July 28 at their New England Research & Development offices in Cambridge. It was an interesting mix of academic, business and investment leaders to understand what's on the minds of local technology leaders.
These meetings are interesting. You learn what government officials do know, don't know, care about and most importantly what they should (and want to) care about. So here's what I learned:
--Division dedicated to supporting business growth in MA - The AG is not just about cybercrime, consumer protection, workplace rights, among other important issues. It actually has a Business Technology & Economic Development Department (wow, that's a long name - BTED for short) whose purpose is to spur business development & growth in the state. Apparently MA is the first state to have an Attorney General with a focus to be a voice for the business community. It's not easy to find on their website, but it's a department within the Business & Labor Bureau. And they do have a deputy dedicated to this initiative.
--Stimulus money and small business can't find each other - The Attorney General is disappointed with the pace and limitations on the stimulus money. She expressed her interest in working with the Governor to see how they can be helpful, particularly to small business which is an important engine of MA. There is no place or resource for small businesses to go to find stimulus money. Let's hope that changes with their efforts.-- Now is a good time to address the non compete issue
Attorney General Coakley had a great quote - "Massachusetts has one foot in the 21st century and one in the 18th century." And she's right on. Mass is wearing an uncomfortable high heel alongside an all purpose athletic shoe. It's a huge debate with valid claims on both sides - entrepreneurs & investment community versus large companies. Unfortunately it looks to be a chicken and egg issue. The government won't do anything about it unless business tells them its a problem, but it's unlikely the business community will be able to unite and take a clear stance. She commented that at a time when the budget is taxed, now is the right time to address this issue. And she is interested in doing so. The business community needs to ask for greater clarity in the statute and for ways to keep these disputes outside the courts
The Attorney General was very receptive and very intent on continuing the conversation to solve these issues. MITX will stay engaged in the discussion and keep you all abreast of what's happening. You can follow Attorney General Coakley's blog