Economists see growth for Mass., but risks loom

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The Massachusetts economy should grow modestly this year and slowly bring down unemployment – provided energy prices and the European debt crisis do not spin out of control, according to a group of leading local economists.

The economists, who constitute the editorial board of the quarterly economics journal MassBenchmarks, pointed to a number of improving indicators that suggest the economic recovery will remain on track. Unemployment is down, production is up, and the national economy is on the mend.

Nationally, job growth has accelerated in recent months, the jobless rate has declined, and first-time claims for unemployment benefits are near their lowest levels in four years. Retail sales are solid, and housing has shown some signs of recovering.

Why Does It Cost So Much to Live in Boston?

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According to a recently released study from the Center for Housing Policy, 24% of Massachusetts families are spending as much as 50% of their incomes on housing. This will come as no surprise to those of us living here in Boston. Housing is expensive? This, we know. But, why does housing cost so much and, even more important, how can we fix this?

Framingham joins business study

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FRAMINGHAM — The Economic Development Industrial Corp. last night voted to participate in a Chamber of Commerce pilot program that aims to help the town attract and retain businesses. The EDIC, which works to stimulate economic development in town, agreed to join Natick and Westborough in participating in the MetroWest Chamber of Commerce’s new Municipal […]

Central Mass., home of the housing bust

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Central Mass., home of the housing bust

By Jenifer B. McKim | Boston Globe | FEBRUARY 15, 2012

 

ATHOL – How far have home values dropped in this Central Massachusetts town? The answer sounds like the punch line to a joke, but no one is laughing: They’ve eroded so much that you can buy a house for about the cost of a Toyota Camry.

“If [prices] go much lower, they will be giving them away,’’ said Matt Tarlin, an investor from Needham who has bought three homes in Athol and nearby Orange, where values are similarly depressed, and houses sell for as low as $20,000.

Athol’s real estate decline has been fueled by a glut of foreclosed properties and high unemployment. The median price of a single-family home in Athol has fallen by more than 50 percent since Massachusetts values peaked in 2005, to just above $78,000 – the lowest in the state.

That compares with about a 19 percent decline in values statewide during the same period and a median price of $286,000, according to Warren Group, a real estate tracking firm.

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Data for decision makers

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February 13, 2012 Self-proclaimed “data geeks” descended upon Northeastern’s campus recently for a conference focusing on the use of data to support communities and advance societal change. The university’s School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs teamed up with the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) and the Boston Foundation’s Boston Indicators Project to host the event in […]

The MBTA: Some of Us Ride It, All of Us Need It & All of Us Should Pay For It

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by Stephanie Pollack

The really bad news about the MBTA’s finances is not the projected $160 million operating deficit that precipitated the current proposals to substantially increase fares and slash service. The sobering news is that the MBTA will remain a fiscal basket case even if officials figure out a way to fix the coming year’s budget with a more modest fare increase and few, if any, service cuts. The T actually faces four related and equally difficult financial challenges: operating deficits, growing debt service payments, deferred maintenance and the need for strategic investment in improved transit.

Let’s start with the operating deficit. Within a year the MBTA will fall at least $40 million farther behind – and that’s only if there are no higher costs stemming from higher gasoline prices or labor arbitration. So Mayor Menino was exactly right when he characterized the current proposals as a “one-year band aid.” By three years from now the annual operating deficit will have doubled.

Barcelona Success Yields Model For Boston Innovation District

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Brains In Spain Thrive In Entrepreneur Eco-System

Monday, February 6, 2012 | Global Enterprise

By Michael Lake and Robert Buckley

Special To Banker & Tradesman

The Boston region has the opportunity to leverage the development growth at Kendall Square and Longwood Medical area while building the South Boston innovation district and, accordingly, shape the future of our region’s innovation economy.

The challenge lies in how to most effectively attract and retain talent in order to create a thriving entrepreneurship ecosystem. To succeed, we need to look at successful projects around the globe utilizing innovation-related practices.

MBTA and Transit Policy

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The Kitty & Michael Dukakis Center for Urban & Regional Policy conducts research and works on policy issues affecting the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA or T) and smaller regional transit agencies throughout the Commonwealth because well-run, financially stable transit systems are essential to achieving a myriad of important urban and regional policy goals including […]

In tight local market, no relief for renters, apartment hunters

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January 26, 2012|Jenifer B. McKim, Globe Staff | Boston Globe   Rents in the Boston area hit record highs in the last quarter of 2011, pushed up by increased demand and declining inventory, maintaining the region’s reputation as one of the country’s most expensive places to live. Average monthly rents in the metropolitan Boston area, loosely […]

How the T entered a tunnel of debt

February 5, 2012 |Boston.com

by Eric Moskowitz

The MBTA reached a halfway point last week with the 12th of 24 community meetings on proposed fare increases and service cuts, and the numbers so far are staggering: 2,077 attendees (counting merely those who signed in) and 618 lining up to speak. Another 2,900 have sent e-mails.

Longtime observers say the public response is not just the most pronounced in memory, but also the most knowledgeable. Beyond real frustration over paying more and losing service, many speakers cite the overarching problem: too much debt, too little money, with riders asked to make up more of the difference.

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