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slides: 12 Biggest Business Stories in Central MA in 2012

Thursday, December 27, 2012


The economic news stories in Central Massachusetts that received big play ranged wildly in 2012.

The recovery seems to have established a foothold in Central Massachusetts in 2012, but the year still had its share of ups and downs.

GoLocalWorcester's coverage ranged from technology start ups to the ever-changing story at Worcester Airport to the real estate market.

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#12 Hipster Factor

For the most part, Hipters hate to be called Hipsters, but the reality is the young, smart, arts-oriented movement is creating a significant economy in Worcester.

If you have been to Portland, Oregon recently, the City and the movement are one. In Worcester, the relationship between the old line Chamber and the emerging start ups seems cavernous.

Cool retailers like Seed to Stem and emerging restaurants like Armsby Abbey are fueling a revitalived and committed group of business people to the region.

READ the Story.

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#11 Worcester's Marketing

Worcester is New England's second largest city, has more great museums than almost any city its size, rail connection and so much more.

But it would be hard to find out about the City. The City's marketing is confused and disjointed at best.

Few in the City or beyond would ever know about the City of Worcester's treasures.

GoLocal spent a good amount of time looking at the marketing effort.

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#10 Becker Gaming

Becker College is on a bit of a roll. The College's new President Dr. Robert Johnson is on a mission to bring Becker to the next level.

Its video gaming program is getting wide recognition including a top ranking by The Princeton Review.

Look for Becker to be part of the economic solution for Central MA. Some initial gaming companies are starting to sprout. If the trend continues, Becker can help be the future of the region.

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#9 Unemployment

The unemployment rate in Worcester is better than its peer cities - Springfield, Providence and Hartford - but has some real weaknesses.

One in seven in the age group of 16 to 24 years of age is out of work.

And, the Leominster and Fitchburg areas are still suffering.

Central MA has a chance to set a new future and will be able to retain and attract talent if it can win the effort to create more jobs.

READ one of the articles.

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#8 CSX Factor

The arrival of CSX may be a deal changer for Worcester and Central MA. 

The new development will create jobs during the construction phase and could spawn many additional jobs moving forward.

READ the article. 

The CSX project may need to be kept in check. The project can't outgrow the neighborhood or become an eyesore and have an adverse environmental impact.

The $100 million project will be one to watch into 2013.

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#7 #1 Ranking

Massachusetts scored the top spot in business environment for start-ups.

The ranking speaks to the Commonwealth's position as a mecca for young talent, growth, number of patents and new business formations.

READ the Story.

Massachusetts also scores well for energy efficiency.

And, MA ranks second in the country for broadband.

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#6 WPI Factor

Worcester and Central MA's opportunity to become one of the hot mid-size cities in America may rest on its ability to retain the science and the spinoffs being developed at WPI.

WPI is educating many of the top scientists - innovators in engineering, biotech, and technology development.

The spinoffs are emerging. The key for Worcester, Central Mass and future employment is to retain and nurture these companies.

Can Worcester create an environment to win this fight?

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#5 T&G Building

The former Telegram and Gazette building was sold by the NY Times Corp to a non-profit with a $1.1 million clean-up cost.

The not-for-profit then turned around and had to apply for federal funding from US EPA. 

It will take years to clean up the contamination.  While progress is being made in the City Hall development area - Hanover Theater, Bay State Bank improvements and the new skating center, - the Telegram and Gazette and thier parent company should have been held responsible for the removal of the pollutants.

READ the story.

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#4 Direct Air

GoLocalWorcester broke the story of Direct Air's collapse. The impact on Worcester was significant. 

Can the City compete to attract and retain critical employers without any air service in the area?

The Direct Air bankruptcy was significant as it left many in Central Massachusetts with worthless tickets and many were left scrambling for new arrangements.

In follow up stories, GoLocalWorcester explored the commitment of Massport to improve the airport and make it viable.

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#3 Worcester Taxes

Worcester is at a slippery slope in how it is taxing businesses.  The latest tax policy is to shift the burden to local commercial taxpayers and then when they complain (appeal) then grant the relief.

READ the article.

This tax policy has been roundly criticized by property owners, small business operators and business advocacy groups.

The fear of policy makers is that a more level tax class structure will cause homeowners (voters) to rebel or cause greater flight.

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#2 Real Estate Rebound

The real estate and other leading factors point up and to the right. Residential real estate rebounded and looks positive for 2013. 

Housing prices are stable and the market has the potential for growth.

In addition, Worcester got ranked #1 in the US for competitiveness. 

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#1 Worcester Airport

Direct Air's bankruptcy coupled with the lack of commitment from Massport to improve the airport leave the airport without a full service carrier.

The airport has been able to attract Rectrix Airline - a corporate charter airline.

For Worcester to assert itself as a leading commerce sector and build off the success of its healthcare industry, developing technology companies, and the universities - the City needs a functioning airport.


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