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] [author_image timthumb=’on’]https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-R568Pb8PUNI/VorK_ChUWOI/AAAAAAAAAA4/MQ866d4KxjM/s160-k-no/[/author_image] [author_info]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 area.[/author_info] [/author]

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 trial judge or by the Department of Industrial Accidents; all parties have the right to be heard. As a result of the DiCarlo ruling, compromise must be made in the best interest of both injured workers and workers’ compensation insurers.

About the Author:

John J. Sheehan workers’ compensation law BostonJohn J. Sheehan practices workers’ compensation law in Boston, Massachusetts, where he was born and raised. Mr. Sheehan is a member of organizations including the American Bar Association, the Massachusetts Bar Association, and the Massachusetts Academy of Trial Attorneys. In 1993, John Sheehan graduated from Suffolk University Law School and gained admittance to the Massachusetts state bar.

Interested in guest blogging for us on your topic of expertise? Send us an message on our website by clicking here or navigating to the “Write For Us” tab!

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 Bostona city of 655,884 residentswas 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 one-bedroom-apartment-boson-chelsea one-bedroom-apartment-boson-chelsea

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.

 

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cozy-studio-furnished-boston-north-end

Cozy Studio (Furnished): Boston

Rent: $1,900

Size: 480 ft2

Neighborhood: North End

Source: Craigslist

Amenities: Below ground and with only one window, this “cozy” studio might feel a bit constricting . . . but at least it’s near the historic Freedom Trail? With the “exposed brick, wooden beams, [and] hardwood floors,” you’ll really feel like a part of history in this furnished apartment.

 

 

 

One-Bedroom “Suite”: Bostonone-bedroom-suite-boston

Rent: $1,545

Size: Studio (not listed)

Neighborhood: Beacon Street

Source: Craigslist

Amenities: Well, there’s free WiFi, which you can use to look for a new place to live. Plus, the ad advertises carpet. Lucky you.

 

 

two-bedroom-penthouse-worcestertwo-bedroom-penthouse-worcester

 

Two-Bedroom Penthouse: Boston

Rent: $2,000

Size: Not listed

Neighborhood: Lake Avenue

Source: Craigslist

Amenities: Overlooking the water and including a swimming pool, jacuzzi, and built-in wet bar, you surely won’t go thirsty in this place. We can certainly see why they call it a penthouse, with its spiral staircase and working fireplace. Then again, the artisan rug and La-Z-Boy chair may make this place better suited for your grandfather. (Who are we kidding. This is way too classy for grandpa.)

 

two-bedroom-apartment-framingham-ma

Two-Bedroom Apartment: Framingham

two-bedroom-apartment-framingham-ma

Rent: $1,599

Size: Not listed

Neighborhood: North Framingham

Source: Craigslist

Amenities: Despite being advertised as a winter wonderland, we still couldn’t help but notice the “sparkling, Olympic-sized pool” and think about warmer days. But with the famous Massachusetts winters, even the “warm beige carpeting” sounds pretty good right now. Just make sure you have a couple shovels for that winter wonderland. Two parking spots are included.

 

two-bedroom-apartment-loft-westford

Two-Bedroom Apartment with Loft: Westward two-bedroom-apartment-loft-westford

Rent: $2,400

Size: 1,483 ft2

Neighborhood: Abbot Mill

Source: Craigslist

Amenities: We are pining for this beautiful, pine-floored, two-bedroom apartment. With a loft included in each unit, every tenant is sure to feel high above everyone else. Plus, after a few visits to the private fitness center, both you and your state-of-the-art cooking appliances will be made of pure steel.

 

three-bedroom-house-northampton-rental three-bedroom-house-northampton-rental

Three-Bedroom House: Northampton  

Rent: $2,400

Size: 1,945 ft2

Neighborhood: Florence

Source: Craigslist

Amenities: If you like Tetris, then this is the house for you! Two decks, a sunroom, and skylights will have you feeling blissfully connected to your yard (which you are responsible for maintaining). You also have to remove your own trash, shovel the driveway, and mow the lawn. But hey! There’s a hot tub and patio furniture, so you can start planning lawn parties whenever you’re ready.

 

three-bedroom-house-dennis-port-cape-cod three-bedroom-house-dennis-port-cape-cod

Three-Bedroom House: Dennis Port/Cape Cod

Rent: $2,150

Size: Not listed

Neighborhood: Dennis Port

Source: Craigslist

Amenities: This is a classic Victorian house you can use to live out your dreams on Cape Cod. Remodeled with “many extras” (we really don’t know what that means) and “custom workmanship” (also a bit unsettling), even the birdhouses look like no other. Just remember to keep your pinky out when sipping tea in your “formal dining area.”

 

 two-bedroom-condo-west-harwich-cape-cod-beach  two-bedroom-condo-west-harwich-cape-cod-beach

Two-Bedroom Condo:

West Harwich/Cape Cod

Rent: $2,000

Size: 1,209 ft2

Neighborhood: West Harwich

Source: Craigslist

Amenities: Pack your suits and start driving . . . you won’t need much else at this furnished oceanfront apartment (though you’ll have to leave your Boston Terrier at home, as there are no pets allowed here). Don’t worry, though: With your ocean views, sandy beaches, and ten-minute walk to “quaint shops and restaurants,” you’ll soon forget all about Mr. Barkley.

 

 

two-bedroom-farm-house-berkshires -ma two-bedroom-farm-house-berkshires -ma

Two-Bedroom Farmhouse: Berkshires  

Rent: $2,200

Size: 1,840 ft2

Neighborhood: Berkshires

Source: Craigslist

Amenities: This is considered a “post-and-beam home,” which we assume means you can post pictures of your new house online and beam as people’s jaws drop in awe. Take your morning walk along the “seasonal brook” and then enjoy breakfast in your kitchen with “high-end furnishings.” When your mom comes to visit, show her your house, featured in New York Times’ Great Homes and Destinations.

 

three-bedroom-house--studio-great-barrington-ma three-bedroom-house--studio-great-barrington-ma

Three-Bedroom House and Studio: Great Barrington

Rent: $2,300

Size: 1,375 ft2

Neighborhood: Great Barrington

Source: Craigslist

Amenities: Crazy cat lady? Crazy craft lady? Both are encouraged at this “highly [energy] efficient” three-bedroom house. When summer rolls around, pick fruit from the trees in your fenced-in backyard or create masterpieces in your heated craft barn. End the day sipping lemonade and swinging on your “darling front porch.” Darling.

 

Wherever you live in the commonwealth, do your best to make it a home. After all, you’re probably paying an arm and leg to live there, so you might as well enjoy it. We’d love to hear your insights on ever-rising rent prices in MA and how your rent and amenities compare. Happy house-hunting!

 

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.

Automation_of_foundry_with_robot

Foundry robotics.

Homegrown vs. Tax IncentivesPaying 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.

Army collaborates with robotics.

Massachusetts Grows ConnectionsAnd 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.

boston-dynamics-atlas-robot-industry-ma

Atlas, a humanoid robot from Boston Dynamics.

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 $20 million in 2008. Technology giants like Amazon and Google have provided millions of dollars in startup funds for robotic-focused companies through acquisitions and other forms of investment.

Unfortunately, trends have shown that smaller companies often sell to larger firms before they can grow to a significant size. This has prevented Massachusetts from becoming a true powerhouse in robotics. The international robotics industry saw $15 billion in 2010; it is expected to see $65 billion by 2025. Experts say that special focus will be given to robotics that provide everyday utility, including those that help clean and maintain homes.

Massachusetts has implemented incentives that have helped the state grow the robotics and biotech industries, but many experts say there is still significant room for growth.

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.

umass-memorial-hospitalMarlborough 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.

no-smoking-decalMassachusetts 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 smoke can cling to clothing and hair; this new rule will help prevent patients from being exposed to those fumes. Each year, smoking or exposure to smoke causes 443,000 premature deaths and costs over $170 million in healthcare costs and loss of productivity.

Most employees who receive the “quit smoking or quit your job” ultimatum choose to leave tobacco behind. While Marlborough Hospital’s ban doesn’t affect current employees, it will hopefully nudge future employees to kick the habit.

As Housing Booms in MA, Residents Push for Even More Construction

August 2015 marked the third straight month of increased housing sales in Massachusetts. This continued spike has lawmakers worried about the availability of affordable housing in the commonwealthhousing units are being swooped up faster than they are being built. The goal is to make sure that, as MA continues to compete to bring in workers, it also competes to provide sufficient housing for those workers. A bill, sponsored by the Housing Committee co-chairs, Senator Linda Dorcena Forry (D) and Representative Kevin Honan (D), has been proposed that would increase the amount of housing stock in the commonwealth.

housing-massachusetts-single-familyHousing Partnership Directors Testify

In early October, advocates for the bill testified before the commonwealth’s Housing Committee. Somerville Mayor Joe Curtatone, among others, have stood behind the bill. MA Housing Partnership Executive Director Clark Ziegler testified that the average single-family home in metropolitan Boston takes up over one acre of land, which is about equal to one NFL football field. The size of these properties has less to do with what people want and more with what local zoning restrictions demand. Even though most buyers prefer homes on smaller lots in neighborhoods that are more walkable, zoning laws make these homes more difficult to put together. Many communities ban the building of multi-family homes altogether.

It isn’t news to say that the cost of renting housing (or the cost of taxes on owned property) in Massachusetts continues to spike. We’re still picking our jaws off the floor after reading this article about wages and rental costs. Even short-term rental properties face increased regulations and pricing. Residents statewide are feeling trapped—some areas are simply becoming too expensive for people to afford.

low-income-housing-massachusettsModerate and Low Income Residences

One of the goals of the bill is to address the lack of low- and moderate-income housing stock in Massachusetts. If passed into law, the bill would require communities to report the ratio of employed residents and available, reasonably priced housing. It will also help measure the negative effects of certain kinds of development in particular communities (e.g., building football-field-sized properties in low-income neighborhoods). The bill represents hope for an increasingly difficult housing market, but advocates have had trouble prioritizing it over short-term-agenda items like neighborhood safety and the energy efficiency of housing units.

Massachusetts Housing Boom

The average MA home sale price in August were $359,000, three percent higher than it was in 2014. Despite these concerns, The Warren Group reported in early October that there had been more than 6,000 single-family home sales in Augustmore than any month since August 2005. Home sales were up 16% from August 2014. Many expect the number of sales to continue to increase into autumn.

The Housing Committee is reviewing a total of six bills related to housing. The bills cover topics such as the expedited construction of multifamily housing (buildings with 20 or more units); the general increase of lower-income housing; and the investigation of the shortage of accessible homes for people with disabilities, veterans, and the elderly.

The real question is, where do you stand? Are more housing developments the answer to the increased need for housing in Massachusetts?

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.

massachusetts-possible-ban-styrofoamBPA 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 received by eating takeout from a Styrofoam container). However, Hunt mentioned that BPA doesn’t necessarily “play by the rules.” At high doses, BPA may “shut down the body’s response”; smaller doses of BPA may actually be worse for us.

packing peanuts quote harvard

One incontestable fact about BPA is that it negatively impacts our environment. Harvard University writes that “Polystyrene foam is designed for a useful life of minutes or hours, but it continues to exist in our environment for hundreds or thousands of years.” It cannot be recycled (it costs more to recycle than it does to produce), so Styrofoam and Styrofoam products “fill up 30% of landfill space.” It is also manufactured using hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), which are known to deplete the ozone layer. The EPA adds that 90% of floating marine litter consists of plastic or polystyrene products.

Polypropylene: A Better Alternative

Polypropylene represents a safer alternative to Styrofoam. It is a versatile, lightweight, heat-resistant polymer resin that is cheap to use and able to be utilized in all kinds of products. It can essentially do everything Styrofoam can. The kicker? Polypropylene does not contain BPA. So, since BPA may or may not be terrible for us (and no one can seem to agree), many would rather not risk it and just use polypropylene instead. Paper, which has been implemented in many Dunkin’ Donuts locations, including Somerville, MA, is another viable solution.

anti-styrofoam-massachusetts-law-lunch-bittwersweet

Birch Tree Bread Company, a restaurant based in Worcester, MA, prides itself on only using recycled and/or recyclable material.

Reactions to Styrofoam Bans

Despite the advantages of polypropylene and paper, some restaurants are reluctant to stop using their foam containers; naturally, the Styrofoam industry is also against the ban, noting the thousands of jobs it creates every year. Spokespeople for the industry argue that there are six Styrofoam recycling centers in Massachusetts and that more could be added in order to better handle Styrofoam waste in the state.

Effective January 2014, Amherst, MA, implemented a bylaw that bans restaurants from using Styrofoam containers, citing their environmental hazards and health risks. They also add that one of the key ingredients in Styrofoam, styrene, is a recognized carcinogen.

Amherst’s town website reports that, from a business perspective, the biggest issue with switching to polypropylene or other environmentally friendly materials is cost. The other materials do tend to be more expensive (though there are efforts to address that), so if the bill does become law, MA businesses will have to “absorb a few cents of additional cost for recyclable or compostable take-out containers.” While a few cents may not seem like much, it can add up for small businesses just getting off the ground.

New York City implemented their own Styrofoam ban on July 1, 2015. Mayor Bill de Blasio told MSNBC, “These products cause real environmental harm and have no place in New York City.” Opponents of the new rule in NYC have begun a petition against it, saying it is unnecessarily expensive and inconvenient for small businesses. A Long Beach, CA, school district that actually switched from biodegradable food trays to Styrofoam trays has since saved about $1 million each year.

Many cities in Massachusetts have joined Amherst and NYC’s effort to eliminate Styrofoam. Brookline, Great Barrington, Brookline, and Somerville, MA, have all banned Styrofoam in their communities.

Where do you stand? Is Styrofoam worth banning or should MA keep it around?

 

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.

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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.

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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 mentioned that the organization’s goals are to both support and create women entrepreneurs in Boston.

we boston weekWE BOS Becomes Part of Women Entrepreneurs Week in October 2015

Miller’s initiative has been up-and-coming for a couple years now and will finally launch on October 12th. The date also marks the beginning of Boston’s inaugural Women Entrepreneurs Week. Throughout the week, women entrepreneurs will be able to attend workshops, speakers, roundtable discussions, and will have the opportunity to meet and connect with others. You can find a full list of events here, many of which are free to attend.

 

WE BOS joins other local endeavors designed to assist women in business such as Innovation Women and the Women on Main Initiative. Although Massachusetts businesses—along with those of the rest of the nation—are still far less diversified as they should be, these recent efforts will hopefully move us in a better direction.

Are you interested in attending any of the events at Women Entrepreneurs Week? Do you have any advice for women-owned businesses in MA, or business owners in general? 

Average Salaries: How do Massachusetts College Grads compare?

Median Salary for Alumni

A new tool released by the federal government, College Scorecard, details the average earnings (and more) for attendees of nearly every college and university in the United States. The site uses students’ federal financial aid records and federal tax returns to determine their salaries ten years after they first enrolled. Data from 70 Massachusetts schools—ranging from small, private universities to larger, state-funded institutions—shows an average salary of around $49,000.

computer-laptop-coolege-blackboardNational Trends and Surprises

Although the tool reveals some trends that are already well-known to many (e.g., the salary of someone who attended a medical school will likely be higher than that of someone who attended an art school), it also sheds light on some new information. Some of this information is darker than we’d like. For example, less than 50% of those who attended college ten years ago currently make more than $25,000 a year. This figure falls right around the average salary of those with only a high school diploma. We will add, however, that the site includes data for those who attended college; whether or not a person graduated (and what type of college they attended) are not considered.

mcphs-graduation-salary-highest-in-ma

Median Income for MA Alumni Above National Average

Massachusetts’ average of $49,000 is significantly higher than the national average of $34,343. MCPHS University, of Boston, is at the top of the list, with an average post-attendance salary of $116,400; MIT trails with an average of $91,600. Even those who attended Pine Manor College, which sits near the bottom of our list, make an average of $34,700 a year.

Are the Costs Actually Outweighing Benefits?

At first, the statistics in the previous section read like phenomenal news . . . and to some degree, that’s exactly what they are. Still, it may be best to take the data with a grain of salt. We should consider not only the average alumni salary, but also the average cost of attendance—a school that costs too much may not be worth its payout. College Scorecard shows that attending The Boston Conservatory, for example, can cost about $43,952 a year (after federal aid), yet after ten years, its alumni make an average of $27,500. The illustrious Harvard University, even, boasting an average alumni salary of $87,200, can cost nearly $70,000 per year to attend. Some students in MA and nationwide simply aren’t seeing the return on investment they had originally expected.

costs-of-college-worth-itUnequal Benefits of College Education

As mentioned earlier, the type of degree a person pursues has a huge effect on their salary. Engineering, medical studies, and computer sciences have long been the most lucrative majors; education, human services, and the arts carry the stigma of providing lower salaries. However, these days, students enrolled in lower-paying programs are paying as much (or more than) students on the track to those higher-paying positions.

The Department of Education continues to investigate the severity of student loan debt, as it seems to spike higher and higher each year. That being said, there are tools out there to help students cope with their debt. Resources like College Scorecard will also help determine what school—if any—will be the best match for each student.

Did you attend higher education ten or more years ago? Does the data for your college or university line up? What other information would you like to see included on College Scorecard? We’d love to hear from you in the comments section below!

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 19461964) and Generation X-ers (born 19651980); 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.”

manufacturing-expo-attracts-millennialsBut here’s the cold, hard truth of it all: Yes, you are different. Yes, you are stuck with each other. A successful business in any industry can and must consider the values, strengths, and weaknesses of each of the three generations; as Baby Boomers fade out of the workforce and Millennials fade in, cohabitation becomes more important than ever. By 2025, up to 75% of the global workforce will be populated by Millennials. It’s time for manufacturers to recognize this inevitable shift or end up watching from the sidelines.

How Hiring Millennials Can Benefit Manufacturers

The most obvious service a Millennial can offer a manufacturing company is that he or she can fill an open position. In 2014, MA manufacturing companies saw a 67% increase in jobs created, which is a wonderful piece of data . . . if there are people willing to work those jobs. Millennials are here and ready to work.

Millennials also provide the intrinsic ability to reach other Millennials—they are fluent in the heavily trafficked pathways of social media, telecommunication, and technological innovation; they offer invaluable insight on how to make a company more attractive to others like them. This is especially important considering the fact that Millennials will soon not only make up the lion’s share of the workforce, but also that of the consumer and B2B market as well; if manufacturers fail to connect with them, their companies will continue to be understaffed and unable to grow.

chemical-manufacturing-attracting-millennialsWith regard to “going green” and reducing a company’s carbon footprint, Millennials are proving themselves to be the most informed generation yet. Many Millennials dedicate their educational careers studying in fields that that didn’t even exist when the Boomers and the Gen X-ers were in school, like the philosophy of sustainability, sustainable development, and the art and science of sustainability. Millennials are able to both fill the available positions in the industry and skillfully rejuvenate manufacturing to better align it with the times.

The US government published a report in 2014, “15 Economic Facts about Millennials,” that says Millennials have not only been “shaped by technology” and are therefore better prepared to help companies adapt to new technology, but are also more likely to stay with their early-career employers than previous generations. Despite those who say Millennials tend to bounce from employer to employer, they have actually held on to their jobs longer than Gen X-ers (see page 29 of the above report). This means more security for employers, improved worker productivity, and fewer resources spent on training new employees.

manufacturing-multiple-generations-crucial-to-industry

How Manufacturing Can Benefit Millennials

Money is on the mind of most Millennials these days—their lack of it, their paralytic fear of it, and the debt they have to chip through before they can begin to save any of it. The Wall Street Journal reports that students in the class of 2015 are the most indebted ever; each faces about $35,000 of student-loan debt. Even when adjusted for inflation, this blisteringly high figure has grown every year for as long as anyone can remember, and it’s reasonable to assume the trend will continue as we move forward. The good news? There is money in manufacturing. A lot of it.

In Massachusetts, the average median wage for a manufacturer hovers around $70,000. This is about the same salary as a software engineer, executive chef, or a seasoned firefighter. We can also compare this to the average salary of those who graduated with liberal arts degrees and have accumulated 10–19 years of experience. Entry-level manufacturing engineers make $50,000–$60,000 annually, markedly more than many employed in other industries. There are secure, well-paying, benefit-wielding careers waiting for Millennials to come pick them up.

In addition to terrific pay, manufacturers are now focusing their efforts on reaching Millennials and keeping them around. From internships, grants, and one-on-one workplace training to optimized, revitalized vocational programs and collaborative guides to help reach members of the community, the industry is shaping itself to be more appealing to the younger generation.

manufacturing-cooperation-between-generations

Using Manufacturing Day and Other Initiatives to Connect Millennials and Manufacturers

In 2012, a group of sponsors initiated Manufacturing Day, a project intended to attract young people to manufacturing, better define the industry, and address some misguided assumptions. This year, it was officially held on October 2, though there are events held throughout the year. One of the MA events included the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce’s event, “Made in Central Mass: Manufacturing Matters,” a panel that invited representatives from local manufacturers to brainstorm ways to market the industry to a new workforce.

Bill DiBenedetto, president of Lampin, a critical component manufacturer based in Uxbridge, MA, said this of the industry’s trajectory:

Manufacturing is a very robust and advanced industry in Massachusetts. I believe that it is incredibly important for us to collaborate with local educational officials and get more students interested in pursuing careers in manufacturing, where they have the opportunity to learn advanced engineering skills while earning a livable salary.

Lampin and other participants in Manufacturing Day, along with the STEM Education Coalition and the “30 Under 30” Rising Supply Chain Stars Recognition Program,  are all hoping to funnel younger people into the industry. These organizations and others strive to show Millennials how much personal and professional growth can be achieved through manufacturing.

How Can You Get Involved?

If you or someone you know is entering the workforce, consider manufacturing. Sure, it isn’t for everyone out there, but it is a multifaceted, dynamic industry at least worth your research. A great way to start is to find a Manufacturing Day event near you. Find and follow manufacturers on social media, too—who knows, you or someone you know might be a perfect fit.