Mass Business Blog

News and Perspectives on Massachusetts Business and Economy

Paying Boston’s Sky-High Rent Price: Housing at $2,000 a Month Across Massachusetts

If you’re a resident of Massachusetts, you’re certainly no stranger to rent prices that are, well, wicked high. You also aren’t going to be too surprised to hear that rent is continuing to rise . . . and rise, and rise some more. As of early 2016, the average per-person rent in Boston—a city of 655,884 residents—was over $2,000 a month. But why? How come it’s so darn expensive here? It’s cold, it’s snowy, the T is usually late or broken, and the only good thing about the ridiculous traffic is that it makes the potholes seem less severe (sorry folks, we’re just missing summer this week). Regardless, analysts say that the improving economy and the high per-capita income in the commonwealth are two main reasons for our sky-high rent prices. The real estate data firm Reis, Inc. and online estate sites like Trulia and Rent Jungle have compiled some data on rising rents in Boston and Massachusetts, but we have decided to do our own investigation. We’ve modeled it after Buzzfeed’s “This Is What $1,000 a Month in Rent Would Get You All around the US” article, but have modified it to be a Massachusetts-only version. Just as they did, we tried to find a variety of rent examples, from tiny (often listed as “cozy”) apartments in Boston, to luxurious North End apartments in Cambridge, to rent-to-own houses on the South Shore. Here’s what kind of housing you can get for about $2,000 a month in our wonderful, bustling, sometimes-jaw-droppingly-expensive state:   One-Bedroom Apartment: Boston Rent: $1,655  Size: 580 ft2 Neighborhood: Chelsea/Box District Source: Zillow Amenities: With a fitness center and a parking spot for the used car you bought from your parents, this is an apartment you could easily call home. Additional amenities include hardwood floors, granite countertops, and a roof deck. We recommend using the deck to look...

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Was Massachusetts REALLY Rated Worst Drivers in the Country . . . Again?...

Allstate just released their 2015 Best Drivers Report; once again, Massachusetts found itself near the very bottom. According to the 2015 report, Massachusetts is home to three of the five lowest-ranking cities in the US: Springfield was ranked 196th; Worcester was ranked 199th; and Boston, sitting in 200th place, was rated the very worst city for driving. Boston drivers averaged just 3.9 years between accidents and are 158% more likely to get into an accident than the national average. Worcester residents ranked only slightly higher, with an average of 4.5 years between accidents and a 120% greater likelihood of getting in an accident than the national average. In 2012, Massachusetts experienced 349 crash-related fatalities and nearly 4,400 serious injuries. Of those who were killed in these crashes, 161 were drivers, 48 were passengers, 51 were on a motorcycle, 72 were pedestrians, and 15 were riding a bicycle. However, when compared to the national average on fatal accidents, Massachusetts doesn’t look so bad. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) found there were 4.9 deaths per 100,000 residents in the commonwealth, which was one of the lowest numbers in the country. Wyoming, with the worst population-to-fatality rate, was over five times higher, at nearly 26 deaths per 100,000 residents. These statistics should give Bay Staters plenty to think about. Simple acts, like obeying the speed limit, stopping for pedestrians, and avoiding distracted driving can help reduce our chances of getting into accidents . . . and will hopefully help our cities rank higher in years to come. — Author Bio: Peter Ventura has more than 25 years of experience as a trial lawyer and practices personal injury law in Worcester, Massachusetts—the same city in which he was born. From 1982–1985, he served as the assistant district attorney in Worcester County, where he tried hundreds of cases. He has also served as an adjunct faculty member at several colleges and universities in the...

Big Win for Injured Workers in MA: Courts Now Allowing Compensation for Pain and Suffering Damages...

On February 12, 2016, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled that, in third-party settlements, workers’ compensation liens will not cover damages for injured employees’ pain and suffering. The compensation for these “noneconomic damages,” which had previously been awarded to workers’ compensation insurance providers, will now be passed on to the workers. The ruling in the case—DiCarlo vs. Suffolk Construction—came as a victory for injured workers, ensuring that workers’ compensation insurance providers may not claim the entirety of a worker’s settlement with a responsible third party. The Law in Massachusetts Massachusetts workers’ compensation law entitles injured workers to compensation for medical care and lost wages. However, it does not provide compensation for pain and suffering. In some cases, a worker’s injuries at a workplace occur as the result of negligence by a third party, such as a property owner or contractor. If the third party is responsible for the injury, the injured worker can sue for damages—including compensation for pain and suffering—from the individual or party at fault. In DiCarlo vs. Suffolk Construction, the court ruled that workers’ compensation will not cover the portion of a third-party settlement intended to cover pain and suffering. What Is the Business Impact of the Court’s Decision? Third-party settlement amounts are sometimes less than the full amount of a workers’ compensation lien. An injured worker may choose to accept a compromise settlement that guarantees some compensation rather than risking a loss at trial. Prior to the DiCarlo ruling, a workers’ compensation insurance company could reduce its lien and allow an injured worker to keep some portion of a third-party settlement; the law, however, did not mandate such a lien reduction. From now on, an injured worker will now receive the portion of a third-party claim set aside for pain and suffering, with the remainder of the settlement used to defray legal expenses and any workers’ compensation lien. Agreeing on Fair Distribution The ruling did not include a formula for allocating compensation for pain and suffering, but the court noted that the amounts must be fair and proportional. Third-party settlements are reviewed by either a...

Paying Boston’s Sky-High Rent Price: Housing at $2,000 a Month Across Massachusetts...

If you’re a resident of Massachusetts, you’re certainly no stranger to rent prices that are, well, wicked high. You also aren’t going to be too surprised to hear that rent is continuing to rise . . . and rise, and rise some more. As of early 2016, the average per-person rent in Boston—a city of 655,884 residents—was over $2,000 a month. But why? How come it’s so darn expensive here? It’s cold, it’s snowy, the T is usually late or broken, and the only good thing about the ridiculous traffic is that it makes the potholes seem less severe (sorry folks, we’re just missing summer this week). Regardless, analysts say that the improving economy and the high per-capita income in the commonwealth are two main reasons for our sky-high rent prices. The real estate data firm Reis, Inc. and online estate sites like Trulia and Rent Jungle have compiled some data on rising rents in Boston and Massachusetts, but we have decided to do our own investigation. We’ve modeled it after Buzzfeed’s “This Is What $1,000 a Month in Rent Would Get You All around the US” article, but have modified it to be a Massachusetts-only version. Just as they did, we tried to find a variety of rent examples, from tiny (often listed as “cozy”) apartments in Boston, to luxurious North End apartments in Cambridge, to rent-to-own houses on the South Shore. Here’s what kind of housing you can get for about $2,000 a month in our wonderful, bustling, sometimes-jaw-droppingly-expensive state:   One-Bedroom Apartment: Boston Rent: $1,655  Size: 580 ft2 Neighborhood: Chelsea/Box District Source: Zillow Amenities: With a fitness center and a parking spot for the used car you bought from your parents, this is an apartment you could easily call home. Additional amenities include hardwood floors, granite countertops, and a roof deck. We recommend using the deck to look over the city and shake your head at all the people who haven’t made out as well as you.   Cozy Studio (Furnished): Boston Rent: $1,900 Size: 480 ft2 Neighborhood: North End Source: Craigslist Amenities: Below ground and with only...

Biotechs and Robotics Pay Off for Massachusetts

A law passed in 2008 that provides subsidies to biotech and robotics companies in Massachusetts is helping to grow these industries in the commonwealth. Some say the biotech and robotics industries in MA are beginning to rival those of Tokyo and California, which have long been considered the global leaders in this type of business. Massachusetts Received One Third of Seed Stage Funding One of the reasons for this growth in the commonwealth is the Massachusetts Life Sciences Act of 2008. This legislation authorized $1 billion in investments, grants, loans, and tax breaks over the next decade to be given to local biotech companies. The government is following through with their promise; they have presented over $761 million in seed-stage funding for these businesses between 2009 and 2013. This has allowed nine of the ten largest drug manufacturing companies to set up research and development laboratories in Massachusetts. Homegrown vs. Tax Incentives—Paying Twofold One of pivotal stipulation of the MA incentive package is that it focuses on local businesses who have already been working in the industry. Legislation hoped to unlock the commercial potential of research already being conducted at state universities including Harvard, MIT, and the University of Massachusetts. By attracting smaller companies on the cutting edge of research, Massachusetts has found that large companies tend to migrate to states where those small companies are thriving. Massachusetts Grows Connections—And Keeps Them Attracting smaller companies that draw the interest of larger companies has helped Massachusetts become a leader in the biotech and robotics industry. The new financial incentives attract companies and talent to the commonwealth. As the biotech and robotics industries continue to grow, investors have become more motivated to provide additional seed money for growing companies. Larger companies have spent more time mentoring startup companies after seeing their industry swell; the success of large and small companies comes as a benefit to the state. The Future of Robotics in New England Since 2008, at least twenty robotics companies have sprouted up in Massachusetts; venture capital in the robotics industry has also grown to more than $60 million, up from...

Is It Legal for Hospitals to Ban Nicotine-Positive Employees in MA?...

In 2011, UMass Memorial Marlborough Hospital adopted a tobacco-free policy for its property. Recently, the same hospital announced that they would be establishing a nicotine-free hiring policy for all new employees as well. Nicotine will join amphetamines, benzodiazepines, cocaine, and others on the list of prohibited chemicals. Hospitals test for these drugs following the interviewing and application process; it is often the last step before an applicant becomes an employee. Marlborough Hospital Leads Nicotine-Free Hiring According to Steve Roach, president and CEO of Marlborough Hospital, the decision to hire exclusively nicotine-free applicants is meant to encourage employees’ healthy decisions. He expects his employees to abide by the same health advice they give to their patients—to lead by example, essentially. All hospitals in the UMass system have smoke-free and tobacco-free campuses, but Marlborough is the first in the commonwealth to establish a nicotine-free hiring policy. Is Banning Smokers Illegal? There is no federal law that protects smokers from these regulations, as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission does not recognize tobacco smokers as a protected class. However, individual states have their own approaches. Some states say that companies cannot refuse to hire someone simply because he or she is a smoker. Massachusetts is obviously not one of those states. Even some of the states that protect smokers tend to be more strict with the healthcare industry and nonprofit organizations. Some experts say that this ban will unravel a mess of additional issues. They argue that discriminating against smokers is the same as discriminating against those with diabetes or high cholesterol. There is also the concern that a tremendously well-qualified applicant will be turned away for what some deem to be a trivial issue. Massachusetts Aims to Set Healthy Example A Swedish study found that smokers take an average of 7.67 more sick days every year than people who have never smoked. Additionally, even if the smoker does not have other medical conditions such as diabetes or obesity, they typically have higher medical costs than the average nonsmoker. If you’ve ever been around a smoker, you know how tightly the smell of...

Everything You Need to Know about a Styrofoam Ban in MA

Two legislators in Massachusetts have sponsored a bill that would eliminate the use of Styrofoam containers in the commonwealth. The bill has been endorsed by eighteen other lawmakers who agree that Styrofoam is harmful to the environment and should no longer be offered to consumers. Styrofoam Bans Across the United States Many national chains, including McDonald’s and Dunkin’ Donuts, have already eliminated the use of Styrofoam in their food containers and started using more recyclable materials. In 2014, Washington, DC, banned the use of Styrofoam, joining many cities who had already done so. Cities and counties in California, Florida, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oregon, and Texas have all banned the use of Styrofoam. BPA and the Debated Sins of Styrofoam One of the biggest concerns with Styrofoam, or polystyrene foam, is that—while cheap to produce and easy to shape—it contains a compound called bisphenol A (BPA). Since the 1960s, BPA has been the go-to ingredient for strengthening plastics like Styrofoam; its durability and simple production made it seem like a no-brainer. At one point, the FDA even declared it to be entirely safe. However, a number of recent studies have challenged the infallibility of BPA and polystyrene. The two have been linked to hormonal balance, heart disease, diabetes, breast cancer, impotence, and developmental issues in fetuses and children. The arguments from both sides of the BPA debate are admittedly a little blurry. Some experts are adamant that BPA is safe while others vehemently declare it to be a life-threatening compound. Patricia Hunt, a graduate professor and geneticist at Case Western Reserve University, along with a team of 36 other researches, dove into the data. What they found was that, of the hundreds of government-funded studies analyzed, “90 percent had concluded BPA was a health risk. It was the dozen or so industry-funded studies [ . . . ] that failed to replicate other BPA research.” These findings imply that human bias may have a significant effect on the data available to the public. Some argue that BPA is only unsafe at extreme doses (doses higher than the ones...

WE BOS Supports Women Entrepreneurs in MA

A new initiative in Boston seeks to close the gender gap in business ownership and success. In 2012, women owned about 36% of all small businesses in the US; however, men-owned firms average a 67.9% higher profit margin. Boston Mayor Marty Walsh recently announced WE BOS, a plan to help establish and grow women-owned businesses in Massachusetts with training, networking, and business counsel. Problem #1: Massachusetts Lags in Female-Owned Mid-Markets A recent report by American Express and Dun and Bradstreet examined women and minority ownership of “middle-market” businesses. These are defined as businesses with annual revenue above $10 million but below $1 billion. There are approximately 4,000 such businesses in Massachusetts. Only 5% of these businesses are owned mostly by women; a paltry 14% have female chief executives. Problem #2: Obstacles Include Lack of Access to Funding Women-owned businesses often face obstacles when trying to get the necessary funding and support to grow. About 2% of venture capital funding is dedicated to women-owned businesses. This may be a consequence of Problem #1—that there aren’t enough women in leadership positions to even receive funding. A recent study by Babson College found that only 6% of venture capital firms have even a single female partner. Over the past ten years, the number of women-owned businesses in MA (and their success rates) has steadily increased, but not nearly as fast we’d like it to. Solution: WE BOS Seeks to Boost Women in Business The news is not all bleak. The AMEX and Dun and Bradstreet survey indicates that women-owned businesses able to crack into the middle-market tend to have higher rates of both revenue and employment growth—they just need a little help getting through the door. Massachusetts leaders have taken the initiative to get women-owned businesses on their feet and put them in a position for growth. The initiative is called Women Entrepreneurs Boston (WE BOS). The group, which will offer skill training, technical assistance, and other services to women-owned businesses, will be led by Kara Miller. Miller said “I am thrilled to expand our reach to women-owned businesses through WE BOS.” She...

Millennials and Manufacturing: Can They Work Together?

An Incredible (and Daunting) Opportunity for Manufacturers US manufacturing is an absolute behemoth of an industry. CNBC recently reported that manufacturers contribute over $2 trillion to the US economy each year, and remarkably, it’s still growing. Experts predict that over the next ten years, there could be more than 3 million jobs opening up in the manufacturing industry. This is fantastic news for Massachusetts, whose manufacturing industry generates over $45 billion annually. The caveat, however, is that these 3 million new jobs need to be filled . . . fast. About 10,000 Baby Boomers retire every single day, and we’re now seeing the need for skilled workers to take their places. Who is going to step in? Millennials. No, we’re not kidding. This young generation, seemingly defined by selfie sticks and social media accounts, is rushing toward the workforce with skill sets and abilities we’ve never seen before. They’re no longer just kids, and like it or not, manufacturing companies need them—their futures depend on it. Companies in the manufacturing industry and elsewhere are realizing that the best (and possibly, the only) way to assure long-term success is to funnel Millennials their way. They’re now asking a few questions: Why would we want to hire Millennials? Why would they want to work for us? How do we make it happen? Addressing the Stereotypes: Do Manufacturers and Millennials Even Want Each Other? There is a huge elephant in the room, and it’s name is “The Age Gap.” Many manufacturing executives are Baby Boomers (born 1946–1964) and Generation X-ers (born 1965–1980); Millennials are those born between 1981 and the early 2000s. What this means is that the age gap between existing employees and new hires can stretch forty years or more. Bridging that gap in the workplace presents discernable challenges. As reported by ThomasNet, some employers are standing at one side of the divide and are about ready to give up completely; 81% of manufacturers “have no explicit plans to target Millennials as potential workforce replacements.” But here’s the cold, hard truth of it all: Yes, you are different. Yes, you...

MA Welcomes Fall Festivals and Foliage, Expects Rush of Tourism...

Fall in New England has always attracted crowds of hikers, bikers, zipliners, wine-drinkers, leaf-peepers, shopaholics, and anyone simply hoping to enjoy the crisp autumn air. However, over the past few years, seasonal sales have been better than ever. Some believe the region’s success can be linked to a growing interest in fall-themed festivals and the development of destinations like Salem, MA, nationally known for its Halloween-oriented history of witchcraft. Massachusetts Businesses Benefit from Booming Tourist Industry Many families and individuals vacation in the fall—traveling during the school year usually means fewer crowds, lines, competition for lodging, etc. This helps keep businesses profitable after the summer rush—hotels, restaurants, retail outlets, and others reap the benefits. Even athletics teams and associated companies (e.g., those responsible for ticketing, facilities maintenance, entertainment, food, etc.) have reported an uptick in “post-season” sales due to the longer tourist season. History of Massachusetts Is Ideal for Autumn Holidays Stories of the Salem witchcraft trials have long fascinated tourists traveling to Massachusetts. The town commemorates the trials every year with a fall festival known as Haunted Happenings, which kicks off with a parade on October 1. The event began in 1981 with a “Witches Weekend” and is now a month-long series of trolley tours, ghost tours, films, nighttime ghost stories, and walkthroughs of the House of the Seven Gables. The city is full of other attractions like museums and haunted houses designed to promote the “spooky” history of Salem while demonstrating top-of-the-line Massachusetts hospitality. Fall Festivals Across the State While popular, Salem is certainly not the only place in Massachusetts to partake in the autumn festivities. New Bedford offers the Working Waterfront Festival at the end of September, spotlighting one of America’s largest fishing ports. Visitors to Cheshire, MA, can view glass-blown pumpkins and other artisan crafts at the Fall Arts Festival. Families love the Cranberry Harvest Celebration in Wareham and, in Newburyport, the Great Pumpkin Lighting and Stroll is a must-attent event for anyone visiting in October. And, of course, visitors will still continue to pour in to the state to seek out the incredible turning of...

How Legislation Is Fighting Airbnb in Massachusetts

Airbnb is an online community that connects short-term renters to people with space to rent. The company began in 2008 as “Air Bed and Breakfast” and was imagined after its founders rented out airbeds in their home. Six years since its humble beginning, Airbnb has shortened its name and inflated its offerings to include small rooms for international travelers, villas for high-end business travelers, and just about everything in between. The company makes it easy to find both simple spaces and those with all the comforts of home. Hosts can post pictures and descriptions of the spaces they have available; travelers can then reserve those spaces on Airbnb’s secure website. Airbnb Offers an “Authentic Experience” for Travelers There are many benefits to using a service like Airbnb, including the opportunity to meet people from around the world without having to pay for an expensive hotel room. Airbnb hosts also tend to provide more personalized services (e.g., welcome baskets and access to cooking- and crafting supplies) that outclass those offered by most hotels. Airbnb is becoming a popular resource for small towns around the world that hope to attract tourists but have limited lodging options. Building a new hotel can cost between $300,000 and many millions of dollars, so smaller towns simply can’t afford lodging for the tourists they hope to attract. Airbnb and other short-term rental companies offer a less-expensive alternative to hotels. Short-Term Rentals Prompt Legislative Concerns for MA Despite the benefits of the service, some legislators are expressing concerns about Airbnb. In Massachusetts, state representatives Aaron Michlewitz and RoseLee Vincent have tried to introduce legislation that would be among the strictest in the country for short-term rentals. The measures would legalize the rental process but impose strict safety and registration requirements, as well as a 5% tax on rentals (to match the tax for hotel rooms). The taxes collected would support the tourism industry. The bill would also allow cities and towns to run inspections of short-term rentals to enforce safety codes. San Francisco, Portland, and the state of New York have begun to introduce similar regulations...

Common Core Standards Are Questioned in Massachusetts Education...

  A spirited group of MA citizens, End Common Core MA, hopes to eliminate Common Core standards from the commonwealth’s education system. The MA state attorney general has officially declared the potential vote to be constitutional—a significant leap toward End Common Core MA’s goal. The group’s next (grueling) step is to gather 65,000 signatures for their cause, which will guarantee their question a spot on the November 2016 ballot.   Common Core Standards for College- and Career-Readiness in Massachusetts The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) are a set of academic standards for kindergarten through 12th grade; they specify what students should be able to do by the time they reach each specific grade. The history of the CCSS can be traced back to 2008, when former Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano made it her goal to initiate a set of national educational standards. Napolitano and her team had two primary objectives in creating the CCSS. First, they hoped to make American students career- and college-ready; the theory is that students who meet the CCSS will be prepared for both paths. The second objective was to use the CCSS to compare US student achievement against that of the rest of the world. There is no explicit federal mandate to adopt CCSS, but the Department of Education has created incentives for states to adopt it by including Common Core as a criteria in applications for federal grants. Over forty states, including Massachusetts and the District of Columbia, have adopted some aspect of the CCSS since it was first offered.   Against the Common Core Standards Opponents of the CCSS say that the standards represent a “one-size-fits-all” approach to education and focus too much on assessment and testing preparation at the expense of genuine learning. Valerie Strauss, for example, said in a letter published in the Washington Post: When I read that math standard and others like it, I realized the claim of the creators of the Common Core—that the standards are clear, easy to understand and research-based—was simply not true.     For the Common Core Standards Proponents of the CCSS argue...

How the Massachusetts Economy Is Weathering China’s Recession...

China’s economic slowdown has affected countries around the world; many economies rely heavily on exports to China. In the United States, Massachusetts companies have begun to feel the impacts of China’s declining manufacturing industry. China’s Manufacturing Decline Causing Losses for MA Businesses In early September, several Massachusetts-based companies trading on the NYSE and NASDAQ showed price-per-share (PPS) losses. Dunkin’ Brands (the umbrella of Dunkin’ Donuts) was off-target by 2.89% and Eaton Vance Management was down 2.88%. Some publicly traded stocks were off by significantly higher margins, including American DG Energy, Inc., which was off 15%, and Collegium Pharmaceutical, off by 10%. Collegium has been plummeting for about a month now and American DG Energy, Inc. is at its lowest PPS since 2009. Recession Concerns for Institutions of Higher Education The suffering economy in China is also impacting the well-being of higher education in Massachusetts. Many universities in the commonwealth, as well as many others throughout the United States, depend on the enrollment of international students, especially from China. If the economic situation in China does not improve, Chinese students may not be able to afford the expenses of studying in the United States. Hundreds of US universities have Chinese programs; if schools are unable to fill them, there may be a resultant shift in the economic stability of these institutions. Some Companies Benefit Luckily, not all MA industries are facing losses from this turn in China’s economy. Less competition from China—a behemoth in each of the above industries—gives some US companies a chance to flourish. Two companies in Massachusetts actually showed recent gains. Ocata Therapeutics (a biotech- and cell therapy company) and Echo Therapeutics (a health- and lifestyle technology company) were up 6.97% and 4.1%, respectively. Technical Communications showed gains of 5.11%. Monitoring Impact of China’s Recession on Businesses in MA Clearly, the economic fluctuation of a country as massive as China has a number of effects on the commonwealth. Some Massachusetts companies swell while others suffer, and universities and colleges are left nervously awaiting the trickle-down effects. We will continue to monitor China’s impact on MA businesses in...

Worcester Named Most Business-Friendly City in Massachusetts

Massachusetts Small Businesses Make a Remarkable Turnaround in Just a Year Business confidence in Massachusetts cities continues to grow . . . and you may not believe which city is at the top of the list. A recent survey of small business owners in New England ranked Worcester, Massachusetts, as the most business-friendly city in the state. When pinned against all cities in New England, Worcester was second only to Manchester, New Hampshire. Worcester’s rise above regional hubs such as Boston and Providence caps a remarkable turnaround for the city. Business leaders agree that Worcester’s business climate is much-improved—the city received an overall grade of “B-” this year despite a lowly grade of “F” last year. Worcester, MA Is Positioned to Expand Across All Business Sectors Worcester and other mid-sized cities serve as a complement to Boston’s hub of finance, education, government, and professional services. They provide a hospitable climate for smaller businesses and manufacturers that may not be able to afford or be recognized in a larger city. Steve Rothschild, considered a small-business mogul in Worcester for his work with Applied Interactive, Bulbs.com, and Furniture.com, says that “Worcester is a great place to run a business because there is a well-educated workforce, an easy commute for employees, and low-cost commercial real estate.” Worcester is particularly well-positioned because it has the history and infrastructure of a manufacturing hub but also a large service economy. The city boasts nine institutions of higher education and five major hospitals. Unlike many mid-sized cities that have struggled with population decline, Worcester has had steady population growth for the past three decades. Per capita income and education levels are on par with the state average. The combination of a well-rounded economy and an educated and skilled workforce allows Worcester to expand in many different sectors. Improvement in Business Confidence “Grade” in Worcester, MA, Mirrors Massachusetts State Performance The jump in Worcester’s business climate is consistent with the state’s improving economic indicators. The unemployment rate of 4.7% is significantly lower than the national average of 5.3%. For ten straight months, Massachusetts has increased its number of...

MA Craft Beer Industry Pours Money Into the Massachusetts Economy...

According to a report compiled by John Dunham & Associates, more than 25,900 new jobs in the commonwealth could be directly attributed to the the growing MA craft beer industry. Not only has craft brewing brought a rush of jobs into Massachusetts, it has generated over $2.5 billion in sales and taxes for the commonwealth. MA Craft Breweries: Profit by the Barrel Craft beer is a growing industry throughout the country—it has grown by 32% over the past few years. Simultaneously, though, large companies like Anheuser-Busch have seen their market shares decrease by as much as 7%. American beer palates seem to be evolving—or have at least begun to align more closely with the flavors of smaller craft breweries. In 1980, the Brewers Association reported that there were just 50 craft breweries in the country. As of June 2015, that number has risen to 3,739. Craft Brewing’s Early Days in Massachusetts There is disagreement about the official “beginning” of the craft beer business, but it has early roots in Massachusetts. In the mid-1980s, Jim Koch went door-to-door in Boston selling his family’s home brew to local bars. He then founded the Boston Beer Company, following the huge success of his flagship beer, Samuel Adams. The company, which recorded a gross 2014 profit of over $465 million, is still dedicated to the growth of the MA craft beer industry. Early in 2015, the Boston Beer Company partnered with Accion to offer microloans of between $500 and $25,000 to small breweries. They also sponsor a hops-sharing program that helps smaller breweries obtain the hops necessary to brew India Pale Ales (IPA), one of the most popular styles of beer. MA Craft Beer Taps Into Other Industries Craft beer sales have significantly improved the Massachusetts economy in a number of ways. Twenty-nine cents of every dollar spent on craft beer in Massachusetts go toward personal and business taxes paid by brewers—that’s $766 million in additional tax revenue. Craft brewing has had a ripple effect on other industries as well. The agricultural industry, for example, benefits from brewers’ incorporation of fruits, vegetables, spices, and...

Massachusetts Startup Creates Database to Connect Manufacturers...

While experts have regularly acknowledged the decline of the manufacturing industry in America, they have done very little to reverse it. An innovative, new-business incubator in Somerville, MA is starting to take steps in a better direction. Greentown Labs—A Manufacturing and Technology Incubator Greentown Labs assists other startups in the technology and manufacturing fields. Like many business incubators, it incorporates a cooperative working space for startups. However, unlike the others, Greentown also offers prototype-manufacturing space, shared machinery and shop tools, and a large event space. In total, the lab offers 33,000 total square feet of creative space for their companies. Manufacturing startups at Greentown are provided with the necessary infrastructure to move their company from conceptual stages to actual production- and revenue-making stages. Greentown Labs currently hosts 40 companies and supporting organizations that employ over 300 people. Not surprisingly, many of Greentown’s companies specialize in clean technology and the energy industry. The lab also boasts an impressive list of energy-conscious alumni that have “graduated” into their own spaces. Not only do Greentown companies have a versatile physical space to use, they also utilize the services of “sponsor companies” to assist their operations. For example, members are granted access to sponsor-supplied software at little to no cost to their company. Additionally, members have access to marketing, human resources, graphic design, insurance, and other services. Companies working in the incubator also have the all-important opportunity to network and collaborate with other startups. Bringing Manufacturing Innovation Back to the Bay State Incubators such as Greentown Labs make it easier for startups to bring manufacturing job opportunities back to Massachusetts. Over the past several years, Boston has quickly emerged as one of the country’s leading technological hubs. While major research universities such as MIT and Harvard play a role, a business incubator devoted to manufacturing provides a unique, invaluable advantage to the Boston area. Massachusetts Business Incubator Is Popular Among Politicians The incubator philosophy has not gone unnoticed by local business and government leaders. During a recent visit to the Greentown Labs, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren said they were “the best of what...

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