Charles Winokoor | May 18, 2015 | Taunton Gazette
TAUNTON — While Gov. Charlie Baker held court in one function room of the Holiday Inn Monday morning, a representative of a state agency made an appearance in another.
Baker came to Taunton to deliver a keynote speech in honor of the Taunton Area Chamber of Commerce, which held its 98th Annual Meeting.
“He was very engaging and struck me as very pro-business,” said TACC President and CEO Kerrie Babin.
Babin said 200 people showed up for the annual gala, with TACC members paying $55 a head and nonmembers $75. The chamber, she said, currently has nearly 480 members.
Four businesses each received a Recognition of Economic Impact Award: Fore Kicks Sports Complex on Fremont Street in Taunton; Pacheco’s Jewelry and Gifts on Taunton Green; Hillside Country Club in Rehoboth; Sullivan Tire; and Walmart.
In terms of Taunton and neighboring Raynham, Sullivan Tire recently built and opened a 200,000-square-foot distribution facility in the city’s Myles Standish Industrial Park.
Lew Pacheco, meanwhile, expanded his downtown business by buying and renovating a next-door store space. And Walmart opened the second of two 24-hour “supercenter” stores in Raynham.
In addition to the governor, local elected officials who attended included Taunton Mayor Thomas Hoye Jr.; state Rep. Shaunna O’Connell, R-Taunton; state Rep. Keiko Orrall, R-Lakeville; state Rep. Steve Howitt, R-Seekonk; Raynham Selectmen Joseph Pacheco and Marie Smith; and Taunton City Councilors Jeanne Quinn, John McCaul and Estele Borges.
The other major event was the two-and-a-half-hour Southeastern Massachusetts Regional Manufacturing Summit — featuring appearances by U.S. Rep. Joseph Kennedy III; Jay Ash, secretary of Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development; and state Rep. John Fernandes, D-Milford.
The summit was a means of informing manufacturers that assistance is available for cutting energy and utility costs.
MassMEC, Massachusetts Manufacturing Energy Collaborative, in particular was touted as a conduit for manufacturers to shave energy costs.
Shaun Pandit manages MassMEC, a nonprofit program recommended by the state’s Advanced Manufacturing Collaborative — a group of industry, government and academic leaders, which he said came up with the idea for MassMEC.
MassMEC was established in 2014 to offer individual manufacturers membership to a buying group, or collaborative, to deliver lower electricity and natural gas rates for their businesses.
Pandit is also president of EaryBird Power, which has been designated by MassMEC to negotiate prices for members.
Membership is free, said Pandit, a native of Chicago and graduate of Boston College.
“We’re a national brokerage company,” said Pandit, 47.
He says EarlyBird, which he founded in 2009, was selected out of a field of 14 to act on behalf of MassMEC.
Pandit said EaryBird has successfully arranged cheaper, non-regulatory energy rates for Taunton’s Morton Hospital, which he said has so far saved $50,000 on natural gas in the first year of a two-year contract.
He also said Acushnet Rubber Co. has shaved $60,000 from its energy bill and that North Easton Tool & Dye has saved $14,000.
All told, he said, EarlyBird has brokered $1 million in energy savings throughout the commonwealth.
The “perfect deal,” he said, would be for a participating manufacturer to save between 5 and 7 percent.
Other speakers at the summit included Nancy Snyder of Commonwealth Corporation; Leslie Parady of MassMEP; Scott Ellsworth of Business Leaders United for Workforce Partnerships; Rod Jane of New England Expansion Strategies; and Elisabeth Reynolds of MIT Industrial Performance Center.
A representative of Eversource Energy, which in 2012 merged with NSTAR, took part in a five-member energy panel.
Both Hoye and Ron Rouillard of Fairhaven-based Titleist delivered opening remarks.
Rouillard, the human resource director for the golf-ball manufacturer, later said he came away from the summit encouraged that the Baker administration is serious about supporting measures that will help manufacturers grow.
The internationally known Titleist has two manufacturing facilities in Massachusetts, both of them in New Bedford.
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