Filtered by category: Membership Clear Filter

PPP Loan Forgiveness…Where Are We Now?

PPP Loan Forgiveness…Where Are We Now?

While PPP Loan Forgiveness is intended to help small businesses, the overwhelming amount of changes to the program have left many feeling lost, unsure of the next steps to take. ConnectPay, a longtime partner of RAM, wants to help clear the confusion with their webinar PPP Loan Forgiveness…Where Are We Now? on Tuesday, November 10th at 11:30AM. This RAM-exclusive opportunity will be ConnectPay’s seventh webinar on PPP, and will cover vital topics related to forgiveness, including:

• Recent Updates to PPP Loan Forgiveness
• Covered and Alternative Covered Periods
• 3508, 3508S, 3508EZ Form Reviews
• Safe Harbor Rules for Forgiveness
• Inside Information from Lenders and Capitol Hill
• Tax Implications of a Forgiven Loan

There will also be a Q&A session to answer any additional questions you may have on forgiveness.  If you’re struggling to stay on top of PPP Loan Forgiveness and looking for some guidance, make sure to sign up today to reserve your spot.

Read More

Lower Sales, Higher Costs Endanger Massachusetts Main Streets

October 22, 2020 by Jon B. Hurst, President

Come January, countless small business owners will review their receipts and expenses and decide if they can stay open. They will be making that heart wrenching decision at a time of great uncertainty. Can they take the risk that they can bring consumers back into their stores and restaurants and drive up sales to cover their expenses, or are the costs of operating just too much?

Four major pressure points for small business in Massachusetts are state government mandated cost drivers that are coming their way.


Read More

The Connected Payroll Model: Celebrating Small Businesses And Helping Them Thrive

The popular image of Main Street America is familiar and welcoming: charming storefronts, restaurants with brightly colored awnings, old-school pharmacies, newer cafes, coffee shops, shoe repairs and more. Those small businesses make up a large part of America’s cultural history and its modern economy. Jon Hurst, President of the century-old Retailers Association of Massachusetts sees an even more powerful tradition at play in those mom-and-pop shops. 

“Historically, it’s been the go-to industry for entrepreneurs. Maybe you worked for a large company, but always had a dream of opening your small business, employing people, and serving customers,” Hurst says. That tradition of bootstrap entrepreneurs chasing their dreams and creating local jobs is alive and well in America today. According to the Small Business Administration’s most recent survey results, U.S. small businesses created 1.9 million net jobs in the span of a year, and firms employing fewer than 20 employees experienced the largest gains, adding 1.1 million net jobs.

But those small business entrepreneurs, having saved the money to start a company and poured their heart and soul into their vision, face an increasingly complex environment in 2019. Next-day internet shipping, dominant big box stores, skyrocketing rents, and minimum wage increases make margins tight. But most mind-boggling of all can be navigating all of the red tape of managing details like payroll taxes, paid sick leave, family leave, workers’ compensation and more. Hurst worries that even the hardiest of new business owners may become overwhelmed by the grittiness and complexity of compliance. “Because of those challenges, you get concerned about whether we will have the same number of entrepreneurs jumping in with both feet and taking that risk of opening up a new shop,” he says.

That’s part of the reason why RAM announced a partnership with ConnectPay five years ago. It’s the first payroll and compliance company the association has endorsed in its hundred-year history. RAM’s goal in teaming up with ConnectPay is to help its small business owner members address those complexities and cut through the red tape, so that they can focus on the important things: namely, running their companies.

Read More

Moving Ahead on Sales Tax Ballot Question

Moving Ahead on Sales Tax Ballot Question

RAM’s membership overwhelmingly decided this week to move forward with an effort to put a sales tax ballot question before the voters that would reduce the state sales tax to 5% and mandate an annual sales tax holiday.

This much needed measure will provide meaningful relief to small businesses while significantly benefiting seniors and low-income families who pay a disproportionate amount of their income in sales tax.

Today, RAM represents more than 3,500 small retailers that populate the Main Streets of the cities and towns of the Commonwealth, provide good paying jobs, and bring vibrancy and economic vitality to their communities. Unfortunately, far too many of these small businesses are struggling due to tax-free competition from New Hampshire and online sellers. By reducing the sales tax and coupling it with an annual sales tax holiday each year, we can give these small businesses and their employees a fighting chance to compete and survive.

Read More

MA Holiday Sales Disappoint with 1% Drop

January 9, 2017  By Jon Hurst

Despite seeing consumer confidence levels unmatched for the last 15 years, retail sales in Massachusetts dropped 1% among the 4000 members of the Retailers Association of Massachusetts this holiday season (Nov-Dec).  The RAM survey exclusively measures small, locally based sellers, and does not reflect either national chains or online sellers.  RAM had previously projected a 3.9% increase over the prior year.  The disparity in the projection coupled with the strong consumer confidence levels raises the question whether consumers truly spent less this holiday season, or sent more of their dollars out of state to online sellers.

The slight reduction in sales breaks a string of 6 years of sales growth (’10-’15), which followed 3 years of sales reductions (’07-’09).  Although national figures will not be released until the end of this week, some national measures indicate another double digit increase for internet sales this holiday season, with as much as 18% of all purchases for gift giving going online.  The last minute shoppers this year may have also felt more confident in online shipping performance reliability than in prior years.

The concern for local stores is the fact that sales for most may be flat or down, yet costs are up—in some cases significantly.  From unfair application of the sales tax, to state mandated labor costs, rising health insurance premiums, commercial property taxes, and rents, the trends are truly troubling.    

Read More

Shop Like Jobs Depend On It -- Because They Do! #BuyInMA

The retail sector is the most competitive industry on the planet, which translates into the slimmest of profit margins for employers.  Competition from sellers across the street, in the next town, next state, or from across the country on the internet has only become more keen due to the unlimited power and information consumers can receive right on their smartphone.

That competition has created many admirable efforts to urge local spending and remind shoppers to visit our Main Streets.  From Shop Local, to Small Business Saturday, to RAM’s December BuyInMA local radio ad campaign, efforts are growing, but we must sustain our focus.
This holiday shopping season is going well and we need to carry that momentum into 2017.  If we all want a vibrant and thriving downtown in our hometowns across the Commonwealth, we all need to do our part.  Keep beating the Shop Local drum.  Talk to the small business owners in your town and listen to their concerns – they are closest to the consumer and really do have their finger on the pulse of the local economy.  They employ your family, friends and neighbors and are a vital component to the health of your local economy and your community. 
Shop and spend at your local retailer…shop like jobs depend on it, because they do.   
Happy holidays and best wishes in the New Year!
From your friends at,
The Retailers Association of Massachusetts



Hardly a week goes by without a news report of a new cyberattack. As any consumer affected by fraud knows, the harm is real. The impact on businesses, government, and other targets is also real, and includes monetary harm and reputational damage that can devastate those so reliant on the trust of their customers.

Retailers recognize that their commitment to protect information must evolve and grow with the threat, and they have invested considerable resources to strengthen the barriers that protect information that passes through their systems. Retailers also recognize that cybercriminals are highly sophisticated, and that the tallest and thickest “walls” won’t always stand up to the volume of attacks. That’s why retailers believe that reducing the value of data behind their walls is equally important.

Cybercriminals, like most criminals, are money-driven. Sophisticated cyberthieves, often from overseas, relentlessly troll for valuable data they can sell to crime rings that use the stolen information to commit fraud. But there is a way to make the credit and debit card information less valuable or totally useless to potential thieves: It’s called Chip and PIN (personal ID number). It has been the standard around the world for nearly a decade, yet not embraced by banks and card networks in the United States.

Read More


MAR. 5, 2015 • BY JON HURST

At the request of the Baker Administration to help their efforts to obtain federal disaster relief from the historic month of winter weather, RAM spearheaded a survey to determine average small business sales losses over the four week period of January 26-February 22. RAM designed a survey and recruited the Massachusetts chapter of the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB-MA), Associated Industries of Massachusetts (AIM), the Massachusetts Restaurant Association (MRA), the Massachusetts Business Roundtable (MBA), and the members of the Massachusetts Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives (MACCE) to participate. The survey results confirmed the anecdotal evidence of just how severe the sales losses were, while at the same time showing a much higher loss number for small retailers and restaurants than for other employer sectors.

The average small business sales losses across the state were 24%; but the retail and restaurant numbers were far higher, at 49%. The reductions in payroll costs were only 7% for all businesses, and 14% for retail and restaurant, and thus most employers took care of their employees, while taking a very large hit to the bottom line.

Thanks to all of our RAM members for taking the time to participate in this important survey. Click here to view press release.

Read More