Briefcase Departments

Briefcase

UMass Exploring Creation of Satellite Center in Downtown Springfield

The University of Massachusetts recently issued a request for proposals to lease classroom space in downtown Springfield, where it is considering locating a satellite center that would provide additional access to a high-quality, affordable education to Western Mass. residents and accelerate the university’s growing presence in the city and region. “We very much want to open a satellite center in Springfield because an essential aspect of our mission of service to the Commonwealth is working to build better lives and futures for people and communities, which is what this would represent,” said UMass President Robert Caret. “We know that the demand is there and that the business and political leadership supports it. The questions before us now are whether it is feasible to do this and whether there are sufficient resources available to help us meet this challenge.” He continued, “we view the issuance of the RFP as a critical next step in this process. We’re hopeful that the responses to it will begin to provide us with the clarity we need to move forward.” A study conducted last year by the UMass Donahue Institute, at Caret’s request, identified Springfield as a prime site for a satellite center in part because UMass Amherst, which would take the lead in overseeing it, already has a significant presence there. A number of UMass Amherst faculty and staff are engaged in Springfield in various ways, conducting research, teaching, or working in administrative capacities. They work in a variety of areas, including health, fine arts, creative economy, natural sciences, engineering and green industries, as well as management, sports, and education. UMass Amherst faculty and staff are involved in more than 120 programs in Springfield. UMass Amherst is also in the process of moving its public radio station, WFCR, from Amherst to Springfield. Last month, the Pioneer Valley Life Sciences Institute, a partnership between UMass Amherst and Springfield’s Baystate Medical Center, received a $5.5 million grant from the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center. But UMass officials would like to take the engagement a step further by establishing a base in Springfield that would serve as a general portal to the resources of UMass Amherst and the entire UMass system. The satellite center concept envisions courses being provided by at least several and possibly all five of the UMass campuses. Officials said that the RFP process should reveal whether UMass is able to obtain space in a suitable location at an affordable price, which will help determine whether UMass can move forward with the satellite center project.

 

Melin to Step Down as CDH President

NORTHAMPTON — Matthew Pitoniak, chair of the board of trustees of Cooley Dickinson Hospital, announced on July 29 that, after 25 years of exemplary leadership, Craig Melin will resign as president and CEO. The move will be effective Jan. 31, 2014. Pitoniak said the board is pleased that Melin will stay on for six months to complete initiatives under way that are critical to the transformation of Cooley Dickinson in the face of environmental changes in health care, as well as its recently finalized affiliation with Massachusetts General Hospital. Melin said he chose this time to plan his leave because he believes that Cooley Dickinson faces a five-year transition and that it should be under one leader. As he was not prepared to commit to a 30th anniversary, he told the board and Mass General that he wished to “step down to clear the way for someone who can make the new commitment Cooley Dickinson needs.” Pitoniak said Melin’s decision was unexpected. Dr. Peter Slavin, president of Mass General, said, “I was very surprised to hear about Craig’s decision to leave Cooley Dickinson, to which he has been so passionately committed for 25 years. While I’m not happy about losing him from our team, I am pleased that Craig has agreed to stay on while we search for a new CEO. Our work to realize the benefits of the new relationship between Cooley Dickinson and Mass General will continue uninterrupted. I look forward to working with Craig over the next six months.” Besides the recently completed affiliation with Mass General, CDH and Melin have been deeply engaged in strategic initiatives, such as preparing for population health management, repositioning the organization to meet the budget challenges of the new lower-priced payment system, and improving the organization’s already-intense focus on quality. Melin said, “It has been an honor to lead Cooley Dickinson for the past 25 years. I look forward to working with the trustees, physicians, staff, and Mass General so that Cooley Dickinson continues on the path toward more exceptional care and better health for our community.” Pitoniak said he will form and then chair a committee that will conduct a national search for Melin’s successor. Slavin will be actively involved in the process.

 

Investment in Structures Expands in 2nd Quarter

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Non-residential fixed investment in structures expanded 4.6% on an annualized basis during the second quarter of 2013, according to the July 31 gross domestic product (GDP) report by the U.S. Commerce Department. This increase followed a 4.6% decline in the first quarter of the year. Fixed investment in equipment rose 4.1% in the second quarter, and overall investment in structures expanded 6.8%. Residential fixed investment increased 13.4% following 12.5% expansion in the first quarter. Fixed investment in the nation’s residential sector has been growing at a double-digit clip since the third quarter of 2012. Personal-consumption expenditures expanded 1.8% in the second quarter, with spending on goods rising 3.4%. Expenditures on services, on the other hand, advanced only slightly at 0.9%. Expansion in real private inventories contributed 0.4 percentage points to real GDP growth for the second quarter after adding 0.9% during the first quarter. Federal government expenditures declined 1.5% during the second quarter primarily due to a 3.2% drop in non-defense spending. Meanwhile, national defense spending dropped 0.5%. State and local government spending rebounded mildly, growing only 0.3% during the second quarter following three consecutive quarters of declines. In total, real GDP expanded 1.7% during the second quarter following a revised 1.1% increase in the first quarter of the year. “Overall, consumer spending remains at the heart of the nation’s economic recovery, including in housing-related categories,” said Anirban Basu, chief economist of Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC). “However, today’s GDP report is only modestly reflective of recent increases in mortgage rates, which could soften residential investment growth in the months ahead. ABC continues to forecast roughly 2% growth in the U.S. economy in 2013, though the first half was associated with sub-2% growth. It remains likely that the economy will accelerate a bit during the second half of the year, but there continue to be headwinds such as rising interest rates, sequestration, and a loss in municipal confidence in the aftermath of Detroit’s bankruptcy.

 

Hiring Expected to Remain Stable in 2013

CHICAGO — U.S. workers can expect a stable employment environment over the next six months along with an upswing in temporary jobs. In CareerBuilder’s latest national survey, employers indicated that full-time, permanent hiring in the second half of 2013 will mirror that of 2012, while temporary and contract hiring is expected to increase 10% over last year. The survey, which was conducted online by Harris Interactive on behalf of CareerBuilder from May 14 to June 5, included more than 2,000 hiring managers and human-resource professionals across industries and company sizes. “Companies are adding more employees to keep pace with demand for their products and services, but they’re not rushing into a full-scale expansion of headcount in light of economic headwinds that still linger today,” said Matt Ferguson, CEO of CareerBuilder. “The projected surge in temporary hiring from July to December is evidence of both a growing confidence in the market and a recession-induced hesitation to immediately place more permanent hires on the books. However, the overall pace of permanent hiring is stronger today in various industries and geographies, and will continue on a path of gradual improvement for the remainder of the year.” Looking forward to the next six months, the study conducted by Harris Interactive shows that 44% of employers plan to hire full-time, permanent employees, on par with last year; 25% plan to hire part-time employees, up from 21% last year; and 31% plan to hire temporary or contract workers, up from 21% last year. In addition to recruiting for revenue-related functions such as sales and customer service, employers are placing an emphasis on roles involving newer technologies, big data, social media, and financial services. In the Northeast specifically, 43% of surveyed companies plan to hire full-time, permanent employees, down slightly from 44% in 2012.

 

IMF Forecasts Slow Global Growth

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The International Monetary Fund (IMF) forecasts slower global growth in 2013 and 2014 than it did just three months ago, citing the prospect of a slowdown in key developing countries such as China and Brazil and a protracted recession in Europe. The international lending agency released an update of its World Economic Outlook issued in April, projecting the world economy will grow at 3.1% this year, down from a 3.3% forecast three months ago. The 2014 projection was cut to 3.8% from 4.0%. “The world economy remains in a three-speed mode,” said Olivier Blanchard, IMF director of research, at a news conference. “Emerging markets are still growing rapidly. The U.S. recovery is steady, but much of Europe continues to struggle.” Blanchard said growth almost everywhere is weaker than forecast in April, but downward revisions are particularly noticeable in developing countries. The IMF said the possibility of a more drawn-out slowdown in developing countries is a new risk that has emerged since April. One potential drag on global growth is the possibility that the U.S. will start tapering its extraordinary stimulus program of bond buying. The Fed program — known as quantitative easing — has injected more $2 trillion into financial markets since late 2008 and kept borrowing costs down. With markets already anticipating the tapering, the IMF said some developing countries are already feeling the effects in the form of falling share prices and depreciating currencies. A recession in the 17 countries that use the euro currency is shaping up to be deeper than expected, another factor pulling down the forecast, according to the IMF. The U.S. economy also looks weaker than previously expected, the IMF said, citing tight fiscal and financial conditions. The IMF lowered forecasts for U.S. growth to 1.7% in 2013, down from 1.9% in April, and to 2.7% for 2014, down from 2.9%. One reason cited was the sequester remaining in place until 2014, longer than previously projected.

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