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State hinders small businesses with elevator 'reforms'

By G. Michael Dobbs

Managing Editor

If you own a building with a freight elevator, are you aware of the state's movement to enforce up-grades that could cost businesses anywhere between $25,000 to $100,000?

Did you know the state is considering having everyone who operates a freight elevator obtain an annual license and be sent to a training session on the safe use of elevators?

Well, if you don't get the newsletter of Associated Businesses of Massachusetts, then you might not have heard of the changes the state's Board of Elevator Regulators have in mind.

Kathy Anderson, who is head of economic development for the city of Holyoke, did read about these proposed changes, and headed up a Holyoke contingent to testify at a recent hearing in Boston about them.

Anderson spoke about the impact at a meeting of Mayor Michael Sullivan's Industrial Development Advisory Committee last week.

For a city such as Holyoke, the proposed regulations would force the replacement of existing older elevators elevators, by the way, that have been certified as safe by the state in annual inspections.

Besides the cost of the actual replacement of these elevators, businesses would have to absorb the costs associated with the shutting down of an elevator for an estimated four to six weeks.

If a business relies on the elevator as part of its manufacturing process, the costs skyrocket.

Anderson said the state board is considering establishing a state license at $25 a person annually for every employee who pushes the up or down button, as well as attendance at a state elevator school slated to be on the of the former Fort Devens.

Elevator school? What kind of tax and spend boondoggle would that be? This is a prime example of governmental abuse, pure and simple.

Although nothing yet has been decided, unless there is a widespread outcry from the state's manufacturing sector, these changes could take place. The impact could easily be another reason for businesses to leave the state.

We don't need to give employers more reasons to leave Massachusetts. We give them enough reasons with healthcare issues, non-competitive unemployment insurance, expensive land costs and high taxes.

If Governor-elect Deval Patrick is sincere about business development and I'm sure he is he needs to call in the Board of Elevator Regulators and slap some sense into them.

Making sure industrial elevators are safe is important. Making businesses pay for unnecessary changes is stupid.

This column represents the opinions of its author. Send your comments to or to 280 N. Main St., East Longmeadow, MA 01028.