2011 AIM Global Trade Award Nominations Open
BOSTON — The Associated Industries of Massachusetts International Business Council (AIM-IBC) has announced its call for nominations for the 16th annual Global Trade Awards, which recognize Massachusetts firms, institutions, and public agencies of all sizes that have demonstrated excellence in international trade. This year, a new award category will recognize a globally owned company that has positively impacted the Massachusetts economy. Kristen Rupert, executive director of AIM-IBC, noted in a statement that, “this year, we are focusing attention on the value of internationally owned companies, as their significant presence in the Commonwealth has led to the creation or retention of around 170,000 jobs.”Award winners will be honored at AIM’s Annual Meeting & Luncheon on May 13 at the Waltham Westin Hotel. The deadline for nominations is March 18. Entry forms are available online at www.aimnet.org/international. Since 1996, the Global Trade Awards have recognized more than 60 Massachusetts companies, institutions, and individuals. The AIM International Business Council helps Massachusetts employers engage in international trade and expand their global business activities. Through seminars, referrals, and e-newsletters, the AIM International Business Council provides companies with resources they need. For more information, visit www.aimnet.org/international.
UMass Research Spending Breaks $500M Mark
BOSTON — Research expenditures at the University of Massachusetts reached $536 million in fiscal year 2010, topping the $500 million mark for the first time in the school’s history, according to a statement by President Jack Wilson. Research spending increased by $47 million, rising from $489 million in fiscal year 2009 to $536 million in fiscal year 2010. The additional $47 million represents a 9.5% increase in research expenditures over the previous year. The research numbers, preliminary at this point, will be submitted to the National Science Foundation later this month. “Part of what makes the University of Massachusetts a world-class university is the sustained effort we have made in the past decade to increase research funding throughout all five of our campuses,” said Wilson. “The research work of our faculty is rocket fuel for the state’s innovation economy. It is saving lives, cleaning the environment, and stoking economic development in Massachusetts. Our success in this area is the result of the hard work of the faculty, the leadership of the chancellors and their teams, and the encouragement and guidance we have received from our board of trustees.” With 9.5% growth in research spending, total research expenditures at UMass have been growing at a rate that exceeds the national average. Research expenditures have risen from $320 million in fiscal year 2003 to $536 million in fiscal year 2010. “Research activity at the University of Massachusetts has grown sharply over the past several years, and the Commonwealth and all of its citizens benefit from it,” added Wilson. “The funding we have received creates new companies and new jobs in the state. It provides students with the kind of skills they need to be competitive in the workforce — and most of those students will stay here in Massachusetts to put that knowledge to work in the Commonwealth.” Most of the research that takes place on UMass campuses is externally funded, with the federal government providing research funding through the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, and other agencies. According to the new report, preliminary fiscal year 2010 research expenditures by campus were: Amherst, $169 million; Boston, $51.3 million; Dartmouth, $26 million; Lowell, $57.4 million; and Worcester, $232 million. The university’s research-expenditure accomplishment comes on the heels of the recent announcement that UMass is now the eighth-ranked university in the nation in terms of income derived from the licensing of faculty discoveries and products. According to the Assoc. of University Technology Managers, UMass, with more than $71 million in income generated in 2009, was the top Massachusetts university in this ranking. Annual intellectual-property income rose from $20 million in fiscal year 2003 to $71 million during fiscal year 2009.
Personal-bankruptcy Filings Rise 8.5% in State
BOSTON — Personal-bankruptcy filings in Massachusetts jumped almost 9% in 2010, compared to 2009, according to a new report from the Warren Group, publisher of Banker & Tradesman. There were 17,496 Chapter 7 bankruptcies filed in Massachusetts last year, an 8.5% bump from the 16,118 filed in 2009, and a 45% hike from 12,034 in 2008. Chapter 7 of the U.S. bankruptcy code is the most common option for individuals seeking debt relief, and accounted for 75% of Massachusetts’ bankruptcy filings last year. The fourth quarter saw the slowest quarterly bankruptcy pace of 2010, with 5,423 filers statewide seeking some kind of bankruptcy protection under Chapters 7, 11 and/or 13, compared to 5,350 in the fourth quarter of 2009. The second quarter experienced the most bankruptcy volume, with a combined 6,193 filings. Chapter 7 bankruptcy filings also accounted for almost 75% of all filings tracked by the Warren Group in the fourth quarter. Chapter 7 bankruptcy filings totaled 4,008 in the fourth quarter, a 4.8% decrease from 4,212 during the same period in 2009. People filing under Chapter 7 bankruptcy can eliminate most debt after non-exempt assets are used to pay off creditors. In contrast, Chapter 13 requires debtors to arrange for a three- or five-year debt-repayment plan. Filings under Chapter 13 of the U.S. bankruptcy code surged 52% to 5,392 in 2010, from 3,547 in 2009. The number of Chapter 13 filings rose 26.5% to 1,359 in the fourth quarter of 2010, up from 1,074 filings during the same period in 2009. Chapter 11 filings, which are used for business bankruptcies and restructuring, also rose in 2010; filings increased 10.2% to 237, up from 215 in 2009. Filings decreased in the fourth quarter, however. A total of 56 Chapter 11 bankruptcies were filed in the fourth quarter, down from 64 during the same period in 2009. A total of 23,125 filers statewide sought protection under Chapters 7, 11, and/or 13 of the U.S. bankruptcy code in 2010, up from 19,880 in 2009.
Small Grants Available for Connecticut River Improvement
SPRINGFIELD — Nonprofits, municipalities, and schools within the watershed of the Connecticut River in Massachusetts and Connecticut are invited to submit project proposals that will result in improved river-water quality, ecosystem health, public awareness, and recreational access to the Connecticut River. This project is a joint effort by the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission, the Capitol Region Council of Governments, the Franklin Region Council of Governments, and the Connecticut River Estuary Regional Planning Agency, which serve the towns in the Connecticut River watershed. Proposals are due March 18. For more information, visit www.pvpc.org. Funding for this project has been provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
UMass President Praises Obama Decision to Invest in Higher-Ed Innovation
BOSTON — UMass President Jack Wilson recently praised President Obama’s decision to propose the creation of a $123 million fund aimed at fostering reform and innovation in higher education. Wilson called the proposed “First in the World” fund a “farsighted effort to foster educational innovation and to set the stage for long-term national economic growth.” Wilson added that the proposal is consistent with the principles Obama enunciated in his State of the Union address when he said the U.S. must “win the future” by investing in education and by maximizing the capabilities of every student and citizen. Wilson serves as chairman of the National Board of the U.S. Department of Education’s Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE). FIPSE’s mandate is to improve post-secondary-educational opportunities across a broad range of concerns. Through its various grant competitions, FIPSE seeks to support the implementation of innovative education-reform projects, to evaluate how well they work, and to share the findings with the larger education community. The funding for the higher-education-innovation fund, which also seeks to increase college-completion rates, was proposed when Obama unveiled his 2012 federal budget.
Smith & Wesson Receives Tax Break
SPRINGFIELD — With a commitment to add 225 full-time jobs and invest millions of dollars in its plant on Roosevelt Street, Smith & Wesson recently received tax incentives totaling $600,000 over a five-year period. The City Council approved the special tax agreement on a vote of 12-1. Councilor Timothy Rooke voted no because he felt the firm had not met hiring obligations in a financing agreement from 1995. John Judge, Springfield’s chief development officer, called the vote a “big win” for the city, adding that it would set the stage for “bigger and better things” from the company. Councilors noted that the new agreement outlines clearly the requirements that the firm must follow, and that reviews will be done to ensure that guidelines are met. John Dineen, vice president of finance for Smith & Wesson, noted during the council meeting that the firm looks forward to working with the city as it has for the past 159 years. Dineen added that Smith & Wesson will begin filling the new jobs within the next month.
State Businesses Report Record Exports in 2010
BOSTON — Global demand for technology products was good news for state businesses, as exports rebounded in 2010 to the highest level since 2008. High-tech instruments, machinery, and equipment rose 11.3% to more than $26 billion, according to the World Institute for Strategic Economic Research (WISER). WISER, based in Leverett, noted that only in 2008 did state firms sell more than $28 billion in overseas sales. Andre Mayer, senior vice president for research at Associated Industries of Massachusetts, noted that the state’s gains fell “far short” of national export growth. Mayer added that the state’s growth lagged behind the nation because its largest trading partners — Canada, Japan, and Europe — are nations recovering slowly from the global recession. The top export market for Massachusetts products in 2010 was the United Kingdom at $3.2 billion.