Cape Cod Chamber Celebrates Water and Economy Achievements at Annual Meeting

The sign at the Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce welcomes visitors.

HYANNIS – The Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce celebrated achievements over the last year related to the region’s water and economy at its annual meeting last week.

The theme of this year’s meeting, which was held under a tent at the pier of the Steamship Authority in Hyannis, was “A Watershed Year.”

Chamber CEO Wendy Northcross says the organization worked hard to level the playing field for room occupancy taxes through soon to be passed legislation.

Versions of the bill passed by both the House and the Senate would impose taxes on short-term rentals, including those made through online services like AirBnB, and include the creation of the Cape Cod and Islands Water Protection Fund to provide local municipalities pay for water quality improvement projects.

“That will help our towns on Cape Cod jump start wastewater projects really to enhance the beauty of Cape Cod and keep it a great place to live and vacation,” Northcross said. “We were very proud of that work this year.”

The fund would be supported through an extra 2.75 percent tax on short-term rentals in Barnstable, Dukes and Natucket Counties.

The language for the creation of the fund is similar between both versions of the bill.

The next step by legislators will be to create a conference committee to reconcile both versions into a final bill to be sent to Governor Charlie Baker for his signature.

Northcross said another achievement was the establishment of the Cape Cod Region Blue Economy Foundation.

“That’s a brand new entity that’s a charitable organization that will raise funds to work to pivot Cape Cod’s economy to the next thing, which is not necessarily tourism related,” she said.

The regional initiative aims to build on existing sustainable tourism development, marine research, and land use planning to preserve the environment and quality of life for the region.

“It’s all about the water, whether it’s research, water cleanup technologies, marine sciences, all the things related to the water that we do here on Cape Cod,” Northcross said. “We want to grow more of that. We want to increase the amount of economic business that happens around water related companies and water related technologies.”

Northcross said the Blue Economy initiative will be a long-term goal of the chamber and that the organization will also focus on short-term issues, including securing enough seasonal help for employers and affordable housing.

“Some of those initiatives are going to take some time, but now that we’ve checked off a few boxes we are going to turn our attention to some of these,” she said.

Chamber business was also conducted at the meeting, including the election of new board members and officers.

Elected at the meeting were new board members: Bill Catania (Catania Hospitality), Robbin Orbison (CapeSpace), Jan Aggerbeck (Cape Cod Coffee), Paulo Paraguay (Kandy Korner), Lisa Oliver (The Cooperative Bank of Cape Cod), and David Troutman (The Scargo Café). Re-elected directors included Terri Ahern (Cape Cod Healthcare), Alisa Galazzi (Housing Assistance Corp.), Andrew Gottlieb (Association to Preserve Cape Cod), Stephan McMahon (Stephen P. McMahon & Co.), Lisa Parenteau (Realtor at RE/MAX Leading Edge) and Paul Swartz (Dockside Hotel Group).

Officers elected included: Chairman of the Board Larry Drago (BizChecks Payroll), Vice Chair Bert Talerman (Cape Cod Five Cents Savings Bank), Treasurer Janet Feeney (DePaola & Begg), Clerk Linda Markham (Cape Air), Membership Chair Gail Knell (Ebb Tide/The Sea View), Economic Development Chair Eugene Curry (Law Offices of Eugene Curry), Convention & Visitors Bureau Chair Bill Catania (Catania Hospitality) and immediate past chair Ken Smith (The Red Jacket Resorts).

The event was sponsored by The Steamship Authority and Bay State Wind, an Orsted & Eversource Initiative. Contributing sponsors included Cape Abilities, Cape Cod Chalk & Arts, and Pairpoint Glass. An after-party was hosted by The Naked Oyster of Main Street, Hyannis.

The Cape Cod Chamber’s FY 18 annual report will be released later this month, featuring a series of chalkboard art highlighting the year’s accomplishments.

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