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.




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: 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


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 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!


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.


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.

boston-back-bay-women-business-week- leaf

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 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? 

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?


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.


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.


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.

MA Welcomes Fall Festivals and Foliage, Expects Rush of Tourism

pumpkin-patch-ma-businessFall 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.


A tour of Makepeace Farms in Wareham, MA, is a popular activity during the annual Cranberry Harvest Celebration.

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 the leaves.


Pumpkin Flavors Fuel Food and Beverage Industry

A visit to Massachusetts in autumn would hardly be complete without some food-and-drink indulgence. The commonwealth’s food and beverage industry boasted a “banner year” in 2014, and the industry predicts $13.8 billion in sales by the end of 2015. Massachusetts, which some consider to be the birthplace of craft beer, has at least ten different pumpkin beers available throughout the season. Visitors can add Mercury Brewing Company’s Stone Cat Pumpkin Ale, Samuel Adams’ Harvest Pumpkin Ale, Blue Hills Brewery’s Pumpkin Lager, to their list of annual autumn rituals. Those headed to Western MA can enjoy a break at Shelburne Falls Coffee Roasters in Shelburne and a taste of their Pumpkin Spice blend.

The sheer quantity and range of fall activities in MA (see more here), makes it a wonderful destination for just about anyone. What do you and your family like to do every fall? Send us recommendations in the comments section below and we’ll read them while sipping our pumpkin spice lattes!

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 that the mandates give students the education they need to succeed in the economy of the twenty-first century. They also note that although the CCSS sets the standards, states and local districts are free to develop their own methods by which to meet those standards. Robert Pondiscio wrote in the National Review that:

It’s hard to imagine a single education reform that would do more to improve the verbal proficiency of American childrenespecially low-income and minority kidsthan for
[ . . . ] a rich, coherent elementary and middle-school curriculum to take deep and permanent roots in American schools.

People tend to swap sides, too—CCSS is obviously a complex solution to an even more complex problem. It seems difficult for many citizens to be wholeheartedly for or against the CCSS.

Business Groups Paying Close Attention

Massachusetts business groups are watching the progress of this debate closely. They recognize the need for a well-educated workforce that can fill the demands of increasingly sophisticated positions. They also recognize that a workforce lacking sufficient skills will require the assistance of government training (and financial aid), which will likely lead to higher taxes.

As a result, the Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education (MBAE) has come out in opposition to the proposed vote. MBAE supports the CCSS and claims that it would cost Massachusetts millions of dollars to repeal and replace the standards at this time. The MBAE spokesperson also noted that removing CCSS would make it highly burdensome to amend or replace standards in the future.

What do you think about Common Core in MA? Does Massachusetts need the Common Core to maintain a competitive economy?

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 the coming weeks and months. If you have any personal insights on this topic, please share them below!

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-improvedthe city received an overall grade of “B-” this year despite a lowly grade of “F” last year.

Worcester Official Sign Massachusetts

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,, and, 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.

Downtown Worcester Ranked Business Friendliness MA

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 available jobs; 46,200 were added in 2015 so far7,200 of which were added in July alone. Although most new jobs were in the education and health sectors, the state also added 1,400 manufacturing jobs in July. The Massachusetts Manufacturing Extension Partnership, based in Worcester, noted that much of the new manufacturing jobs came from small businesses with less than 50 employees. A number of jobs have also come from the booming craft beer industry in Massachusetts.

Business owners can be fickle when it comes to expressing approval of any business climate. The latest survey results, however, show that Worcester is headed in the right direction. If its trajectory continues, it will benefit not only the local economy, but the state economy as well.

Have you started a business in Massachusetts? Do you agree with the Worcester’s new grade of B-?

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 other seasonings into their beers. This experimentation has catalyzed a flux of new brews that were previously unavailable. Construction companies and contractors have been hired to renovate old warehouses and abandoned buildings into breweries, like Abandoned Building Brewery in Easthampton, MA. The manufacturing industry has benefitted from craft brewing’s bottling, canning, and labeling processes. In Massachusetts alone, brewing has created over 7,000 supplier jobs.


Guests enjoy food and brew at Mayflower Brewery Company in Plymouth, Massachusetts.

Craft Brewing Expected to Grow Lager and Lager

As a growing industry, craft brewing has created a nationwide economic swell, with microbreweries cropping up in towns and cities across the United States. Not sure where to start? Visit a local Massachusetts craft brewery today. Recommend your favorite beers in the comments below!

Craft brewing has shaped up to be a hugely profitable and flourishing industry. We don’t know about you, but we’ll toast to that. Cheers!


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.

Connect Green Startups Boston Massachusetts

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 America has to offer.” She said that it is crucial to “level the playing field” between startup initiatives and technology giants; this will help prevent the behemoths from dominating the industry. As Greentown Labs continues to nurture these successful startups, we look forward to their growth and the positive impact they will have on our economy.