June 9, 2023 12:20 am

The point right here is that Fish not only knows Boston, he’s also seeing small business situations on the ground in components of the nation far from our parochial bubble. Additionally, as chair of the national Actual Estate Roundtable, he’s having very first-hand knowledge advertising the industry’s policy priorities in Washington.

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A small business newsletter from Globe Columnist Larry Edelman covering the trends shaping small business and the economy in Boston and beyond.

I spoke with Fish on Wednesday, and even though we covered a variety of subjects, right here are his views on 3 challenges he considers pressing.

The looming industrial genuine estate debt crisis could derail the economy

A lot more than $900 billion in loans backing industrial genuine estate and multifamily housing is set to come due this year and subsequent. But higher interest prices — and low occupancy in downtown workplace buildings and retail areas — have left numerous owners underwater, owing additional to lenders than the worth of their home.

This has raised critical issues about how the debt can be refinanced with no forcing banks to take major writedowns and improve their capital cushions, which would prompt them to curb lending, throttling back the economy in the method.

“We’re in a extremely precarious circumstance,” Fish mentioned.

The Actual Estate Roundtable has asked federal banking regulators to give lenders and borrowers additional time — as they did following the 2008-2009 monetary crisis and the onset of COVID-19 — to restructure the debt even though home valuations stabilize and owners raise additional equity to back their loans.

If regulators agree, “there’s no doubt in my thoughts. . . the debt can be preserved and [bank lending] will not be interrupted,” Fish mentioned.

At the similar time, Fish mentioned, it is important to get additional workers back in the workplace, and the federal government really should lead by instance. About half of the government’s two million civilian staff started operating remotely in March 2020 numerous have but to return. Final month, the Biden administration told federal agencies it desires to “substantially increase” in-individual perform, but Fish believes it requirements to be additional aggressive.

“The federal government is the entity that asked persons to go residence. And the federal government has not reversed that course and asked persons to come back,” Fish mentioned.

Fish mentioned operating with each other in the similar location “is a extremely vital factor to the culture of American small business,” and additional workplace workers in America’s downtowns would give a enhance to surrounding organizations.

The building sector is getting constrained by a labor shortage

“Unemployment in building now in America is zero,” Fish mentioned.

That has sent wages — and constructing charges — sharply larger.

He cited 3 elements for the dearth of workers: an aging workforce, the loss of workers in the course of the pandemic, and immigration limits. And he lamented the failure of the Residence to go along with a bipartisan Senate bill in 2013 that would have supplied a pathway to citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants, supplied short-term perform visas for decrease-skilled workers, and substantially strengthened border safety.

Fish mentioned an immigration overhaul along the similar lines as the 1 that failed in 2013 is critical to maintain the economy developing.

“If we do not resolve the immigration crisis we are going to continue to knowledge higher wages, higher building charges, and a shortage of housing,” he mentioned.

Massachusetts is sending out an anti-small business vibe

Fish was an active behind-the-scenes opponent of the Fair Share Amendment, the union-backed ballot proposal for a four percentage-point surtax on incomes above $1 million.

Voters’ approval of the so-named millionaires tax, he mentioned, sent a loud message to the rest of the globe that Massachusetts wasn’t especially interested in supporting organizations.

Fish mentioned that it is time for a “more vital conversation” about the developing anti-small business sentiment in the state. He didn’t contact out Governor Maura Healey or any Democrats in the Legislature, rather saying Massachusetts has a lot of young persons, and “the younger persons are, the tendency is to appear at small business with a jaundiced eye.”

But Fish produced clear that, in his view, issues had changed considering that Charlie Baker left the corner workplace.

“The final administration across the board truly place emphasis on the significance of business” in driving financial and social prosperity, he mentioned.

“What’s vital is that we appreciate additional of what we have to offer” to attract and retain organizations “and to make a consensus with each the political establishment and the small business neighborhood in a way that our worth proposition does not get diluted or impaired.”

Compared with placing up a skyscraper in the middle of Downtown Crossing, constructing a consensus on how to make Massachusetts additional competitive appears like the tougher job.

Larry Edelman can be reached at larry.edelman@globe.com. Adhere to him on Twitter @GlobeNewsEd.

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