MGM Asks Commission to Delay Awarding License
SPRINGFIELD — MGM Springfield President Michael Mathis asked the Massachusetts Gaming Commission to declare MGM the winner of a casino license for its $800 million project in Springfield’s South End by its planned decision date of May 30, but to delay the formal award until a ballot question seeking repeal of the casino bill is decided. Without that flexibility, he noted, MGM could be at risk for some $200 million in costs while the ballot issue is resolved. “No corporation should subject itself to that risk — including MGM Springfield,” he wrote to commission Chairman Stephen Crosby. “MGM is offering, under such a bifurcated process, to waive our statutory right to 30 days to make payment of our various licensing fees … and instead to make such payment within five business days of a formal award. We recognize the economic and budgetary benefit to the Commonwealth from an award [of the license] for Western Massachusetts and the receipt of the $85 million licensing fee by the end of this year.” Casino opponents are seeking to repeal the casino gaming law passed by the state Legislature in 2001. The state Supreme Judicial Court will begin hearing their arguments this month, and is expected to make a decision by July on whether the issue will appear on the November ballot. Once the license is issued, MGM argues, it will be required to pay not only the $85 million application fee, but also roughly $115 million in land options, construction, demolition, and other costs.
Berkshire Medical Center Purchases NARH Property
NORTH ADAMS — Berkshire Medical Center (BMC) has agreed to purchase the building and grounds of the recently shuttered North Adams Regional Hospital (NARH) as part of a deal reached in U.S. Bankruptcy Court to reopen the facility’s emergency room this month. The deal with Pittsfield-based BMC sets out a timetable to create a satellite emergency department the week of May 19 under an initial 90-day occupancy and use pact. Details on how many doctors and nurses would be hired and what services would be provided remain to be worked out. NARH executives shut down the financially troubled, 109-bed hospital on March 28, leaving nine rural communities in Northwestern Mass. without access to a nearby hospital. Over the past month, local, state, and court officials have been negotiating with BMC and labor unions representing nurses and others about reopening the emergency department. Beyond the purchase price, which will be revealed in the coming days, BMC officials said they would have to invest $10 million in repairs and improvements to the North Adams Regional Hospital building, but it is not expected to have to assume the closed hospital’s debt.
Life Sciences Center Awards $500,000 Grant to WNEU
SPRINGFIELD — The Massachusetts Life Sciences Center has awarded a $500,000 grant to Western New England University to fund equipment related to cancer drug research and development. Susan Windham-Bannister, the center’s president and CEO, called the program a great example of promoting academic and private-sector collaboration in the life sciences, adding that equipment will be purchased for the development of live cancer-cell drug filtration and testing platforms. The university will collaborate with Cellular Engineering Technologies and FioDesign Sonics on product marketing and research. The Massachusetts Live Sciences Center is an investment agency that supports innovation, research, development, and commercialization in the life sciences. The agency is charged with implementing a 10-year, $1 billion, state-funded investment initiative passed by the Legislature and Gov. Deval Patrick in 2008.
Massachusetts Adds 8,100 Jobs in March
BOSTON — Preliminary estimates from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) show that Massachusetts added 8,100 jobs in March and that the total unemployment rate dropped another 0.2% to 6.3% from the February rate. Over the month, jobs are up 8,100, with private-sector jobs up 7,800. Since March 2013, Massachusetts added a net of 50,400 jobs, with 53,900 jobs added in the private sector and 3,500 lost in the public sector. The total unemployment rate was down 0.6% from the March 2013 rate of 6.9%. The recent estimates show that 3,285,800 Massachusetts residents were employed in March and 220,900 were unemployed, for a total labor force of 3,506,800. The March labor force increased by 12,100 from 3,494,700 in February, as 19,200 more residents were employed and 7,200 fewer residents were unemployed over the month. The labor force was an estimated 24,500 above the March 2013 estimate. The unemployment rate is based on a monthly sample of households. The job estimates are derived from a monthly sample survey of employers. As a result, the two statistics may exhibit different monthly trends.