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Employer Confidence Slips in August

BOSTON — Massachusetts employer confidence edged lower for the second consecutive month during August. The Associated Industries of Massachusetts (AIM) Business Confidence Index (BCI) shed 0.3 points to 61.2 last month, leaving it 7.1 points higher than a year ago. The Index has been essentially flat since April and now stands 0.2 points lower than at the beginning of 2017. Last month’s slip reflected offsetting trends in employer attitudes about conditions inside and outside their walls. Employers grew less bullish about their own companies during the month, but showed growing optimism about the national economy and about prospects for manufacturers. “Employer confidence continues to move in a narrow range defined by broad optimism about both the state and national economies,” said Raymond Torto, chair of AIM’s Board of Economic Advisors (BEA) and lecturer at Harvard Graduate School of Design. “The steady level of confidence readings above the 60 mark reflect a state economy that grew at a 4% annual rate during the second quarter while maintaining a steady level of employment growth.” The AIM Index, based on a survey of Massachusetts employers, has appeared monthly since July 1991. It is calculated on a 100-point scale, with 50 as neutral; a reading above 50 is positive, while below 50 is negative. The Index reached its historic high of 68.5 on two occasions in 1997-98, and its all-time low of 33.3 in February 2009. It has remained above 50 since October 2013.

Valley Venture Mentors Joins Global Accelerator Network

SPRINGFIELD — After a rigorous selection process, the Global Accelerator Network (GAN) has invited Valley Venture Mentors (VVM) to join its network. To date, GAN has helped more than 5,000 startups receive more than $4.8 billion in funding and create 28,000 jobs globally. VVM will join more than 85 other accelerators in a network that includes notable programs such as TechStars, Microsoft Accelerator, and PlayLabs @ MIT. The network offers expansive opportunities for VVM’s startups and for VVM as a whole, including startup accelerator alumni access to morw than $1 million in in-kind perks, from cloud hosting credits to airline tickets; a network of thought partners with which to share best practices and develop innovations; a global coworking exchange that will allow VVM’s startups to work all over the world and bring other GAN members to Springfield; access to a global network that will match startups with interested investors; the opportunity for VVM to serve as a pipeline to GAN Ventures, which invests in early-stage startups; and programming for alumni that will augment VVM offerings.

New App Accompanies Springfield Walking Tour

SPRINGFIELD — Finding the next big thing or a historic old thing is now easier than ever. The Springfield Central Cultural District (SCCD) has launched an app version of its Cultural Walking Tour. The walking tour, first introduced in the summer of 2015, is a tool designed to be used by visitors or residents to learn more about the city’s architectural, historic, and cultural highlights. Printed maps are available at attractions and the visitor’s center, and a video map is hosted on springfieldculture.org, but until now, it wasn’t possible to access easily on your phone. Easily found by searching ‘Springfield Cultural Tour’ in the App Store or Google Play, visitors and residents alike can learn something new about the Cultural District and its assets. Public art; attractions like the Armory, Springfield Museums, and Basketball Hall of Fame; and architectural and historic points of interest have background information and video that are accessible from the app, which is based in Google Maps. Users can choose what they’re interested in and sort points of interest. “As people walk around, they can see themselves moving through the app. What we couldn’t do before this existed was point out the HH Richardson Courthouse or the Sol Lewitt mural without being on site with a visitor. Now they can see it in real time, and navigate directly there on their own schedule,” said Morgan Drewniany, SCCD director. The app was designed to not only engage a changing demographic in and around Springfield to appreciate their surroundings, but to help shed light on little-known assets within the downtown and orient visitors not familiar with the area. Paper maps will continue to be available alongside the app. The project was funded by the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts. Additional support was provided by the city of Springfield, the Greater Springfield Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, and the Springfield Business Improvement District.

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