Category Archives: Massachusetts

Growth projections could pose challenges for metro Boston

The Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) recently released a report to help the region and surrounding communities plan for the future, but since the future cannot be predicted with certainty they have two different scenarios based on different assumptions. One projection, called the “Status Quo” assumes a continuation of current trends and a second projection called “Stronger Region” explores how changing trends could result in a higher population growth, more demand for housing and a substantially larger workforce. The projections provide a window into what the region’s future might look like.

Massachusetts population shifts, METROPOLITAN AREA PLANNING COUNCIL

Click on maps to enlarge || Source: MAPC Analysis

Above is a side-by-side comparison of projected population changes under both scenarios. However, Boston’s population has increased by nearly 50,000 people (in 2010 the city’s population was 618,000 and in 2016 it increased to approximately 667,137) so perhaps their projections need to be revised. Under the “Stronger Region” projection it suggests the area could gain 90k+ by 2030 but the current trajectory suggests that could be achieved by 2023; although this doesn’t take into account a general population drain that may be happening in surrounding communities. Key findings include the following:

  • Slow growth is in store if the region keeps losing population to other states. Therefore attracting more young people is critical to growing the region’s
    economy.
  • New housing demand will outpace population growth due to declining household size. Many signs point to the resurgence of urban
    communities.
  • Under either scenario, the number of school-age children in the region and most municipalities peaked in 2000 and is likely to decline over the coming decades.

According to US Census data, the city of Boston had a population of 618,000 people in 2010, that increased to approximately 667,137 in 2016. The Greater Boston area is home to an estimated 4.7 million, making it the 10th largest metropolitan area in the United States.

If you’d like to read the executive summary or full report shared by MAPC visit their website, www.mapc.org/learn/projections.

Changes to Massachusetts marijuana law

legalize potChanges were recently made to Massachusetts recreational marijuana bill which was voted into law last November through a ballot initiative that was years in the making. WBUR shared some key points that those interested in keeping marijuana safe and legal in the state should know.

1 – The law calls for marijuana to have a maximum tax rate of 20 percent, up from a maximum 12 percent rate outlined in the voter-passed ballot question. While this is more than the ballot initiative outlined it is in line with other states that are selling marijuana for recreational use.

2 – The Cannabis Control Commission was originally outlined as a three-person panel, with its members all appointed by the state treasurer. Now, it’s five members, and the governor and the attorney general have appointment authority as well. The three officials have to select these five commissioners by Sept. 1st.

3 – The compromise bill makes no changes to the existing law governing the home cultivation of cannabis plants for personal use. Every adult over 21 can grow up to six plants in their home, with a maximum of 12 plants per household.

4 – Although marijuana has been legal for adults in Massachusetts since December, there are no retail establishments selling recreational pot. That changes July 1, 2018, when shops can open.

5 – Perhaps the most controversial change is changes to the process by which a city or town in Massachusetts can ban forthcoming retail marijuana shops. The original law said the decision rested with an individual community’s voters, but this bill says if your municipality voted for marijuana on November’s ballot measure, a question of banning or limiting pot businesses has to be put to a voter referendum. If your town or city voted against marijuana, then the decision rests with the local governing authority, like a city council or board of selectmen.

For the record more than 60% of voters in Boston and approximately 70% of voters in Cambridge and Somerville voted to legalize marijuana so this issue hopefully won’t be held up by our Mayor or selectmen.

You can read the WBUR article in full here.

Memorial Day in Massachusetts

Boston CommonAt the end of each May, just days before Memorial Day, volunteers help place 37,000 flags on the Boston Common as a tribute to those who served our country in arms but did not return home.

The temporary installation is a poignant reminder of the sacrifice many have made and for me it also reaffirms my feeling that war and aggression is too often America’s course of action.

US News & World Report ranks Mass. best state in U.S.

March 2017Recently I wrote about the survey findings from Boston Consulting Group, that showed Massachusetts taking the top spot in their “well being” study. They cited a healthy population that has near universal healthcare insurance, education and an incredibly robust and balanced economy as reasons for the top ranking.

Just two weeks later U.S. News and World Report awarded Massachusetts its top honor, citing the state’s continuing academic achievement, innovative health care system, and strong economy in its ‘Best States’ ranking – sound familiar?massachusetts The US News & World report evaluates all fifty states across seven categories: health care, education, opportunity, economy, infrastructure, crime and corrections, and government. Massachusetts ranked No. 1 in education and No. 2 in healthcare, and placed within the top ten for economy and crime and corrections.  There are many surveys that evaluate quality of life and economic opportunity.  When you start seeing different surveys finding the same thing over and over again it becomes a trend. 

Where did your state rank? Check out the listing of all fifty states here.

Massachusetts ranked 1st in well being study

massachusettsGDP alone does not offer a complete picture of a country’s performance. The well-being of citizens is an important measure too. With that in mind, the professional services firm, BCG, ranked each of the 50 states, and the New England region out performed the rest of the country. Three of the top five states come from New England with Massachusetts achieving the best overall rating followed by New Hampshire (second best) and Vermont (fourth best).

Massachusetts, the number one state overall, was ranked 1st in investments, 11th in economics, and 19th in sustainability, but the state does have challenges. The report cited: an aging population, high cost of living and a school achievement gap between white and black students as areas to focus on for improvement.

In addition to the state’s investments, Massachusetts received high marks for:

Health: The state has the best access to primary care; lowest infant mortality rate in the nation; the third lowest obesity rate; and fifth highest life-expectancy.

Education: MA ranked high in education, pre-school enrollment and has the highest proportion of people with college degrees in the country.

Economics: MA ranked 11th overall, with the third-highest GDP per capita; third-lowest poverty rate among the most populous states; and low unemployment, which currently stands at 2.8% (nationally the rate is 4.8%).

You can read more about this from the article in The Boston Globe here.

Bloomberg ranks Massachusetts most innovative (again)

massachusettsThe Bloomberg US Innovation Index ranked Massachusetts (again) as the most innovative state in the nation. With California (again) coming in second.

Bloomberg scores each state on a 0-100 scale across six equally weighted metrics: R&D intensity; productivity; high-tech density; concentration of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) employment; science and engineering degree holders; and patent activity.  Massachusetts has enjoyed a faster recovery from the last recession than most states and now boasts 2.9% unemployment rate, leaving it tied for second-best in the country – as compared to the 4.6%  national average.

While most may look to or think of Silicon Valley when it comes to innovation because of companies like Apple and Google, Bloomberg index is measured by the number of companies rather than market capital, rewarding Massachusetts for its breadth over California’s tech giants. This point impresses me even more because when you compare the relative size of both states.

General Electric Co.’s announcement earlier this year that it would move its headquarters to Boston amid rancor over tax increases in Connecticut helps to illustrate how Massachusetts widened its lead.

For more information you can read the full article in The Boston Globe here.

Massachusetts will be home to nation’s largest medical marijuana facility

Yes on 4, legalize pot in MassachusettsThis past November Massachusetts residents voted to legalize marijuana for recreational use. Earlier this month Denver-based medical marijuana facility developer AmeriCann announced plans to build America’s largest medical marijuana facility in the country in Freetown, Massachusetts, which when completed will be an astonishing 1 million square feet.

The CEO of AmeriCann, Tim Keogh said he wants to make the Massachusetts Medical Cannibis Center “the place in the northeast U.S. for the creation of a wide variety of exciting new advanced products for medical cannabis patients.”

AmeriCann

Image from Campanelli Construction

Despite the ongoing protestations of our Governor, Boston’s Mayor and our State A.G., economic opportunity appears to be the result of the decriminalization and legalization of marijuana. It would be great if marijuana medical research could be done here. I would think it would benefit from the world class medical research community that already calls Massachusetts home.

I’m sure Freetown and the surrounding communities will also benefit tremendously from the construction jobs this will create, the full time jobs the center will employ and the tax revenue it will generate for the town and state.  You can read the full article in the Boston Business Journal here.