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State Approves Projects Aimed at Boosting Jobs

BOSTON — The state Economic Assistance Coordinating Council (EACC) recently approved nine projects for participation in the Economic Development Incentive Program (EDIP), which are expected to create 1,209 new jobs and retain 5,935 existing jobs, in addition to leveraging nearly $267 million in private investment and supporting construction projects across the Commonwealth. Among the eight approved projects are four manufacturing companies and five projects located in Gateway Cities. The EDIP program helps reduce the cost of business for these companies, which is one of the five main focuses of the Patrick-Murray administration’s long-term economic-development plan. These are the first projects approved in 2013 by the Coordinating Council, which meets on a quarterly basis to review applications. “Supporting companies that are choosing to grow in Massachusetts is an important part of our effort to create economic opportunity for everyone,” said Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Greg Bialecki. “These investments will help these businesses expand here and fit with our overall economic-development strategy of making our businesses and communities stronger in the long term.” Two of the projects are based in Western Mass., at MassMutual in Springfield and Crane & Co. in Dalton. Last fall, MassMutual purchased the retirement plan portfolio of the Hartford Insurance Co., and will be moving back-office jobs from Connecticut to Springfield. The expansion at the Springfield facility will create 250 jobs while retaining 3,352 existing jobs. This project represents a private investment by the company of $59.4 million. The EACC has approved $3.75 million in EDIP investment tax credits (ITCs) to support MassMutual’s efforts and investments. Meanwhile, Crane & Co. is a seventh-generation, family-owned paper manufacturer that acquired a Kennebunk, Maine, company, William Arthur Inc., in late 2012. Crane & Co. will incorporate the Maine operations into its existing stationary operations located in North Adams. This project represents an investment of $5 million and will create 74 new jobs in Massachusetts while retaining 206. North Adams has awarded Crane a five-year special tax assessment valued at $291,030.

 

Sarno Argues Against Law That Limits Casino Tax Revenues

BOSTON — Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno recently asked state lawmakers to approve legislation that would exempt a proposed casino’s land from the state’s tax-limiting law, allowing Springfield to collect an additional $15 to $20 million in annual property taxes. Sarno and his aides met with the chief of staff for House Speaker Robert DeLeo and Sen. Stephen Brewer, chairman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee. Sarno also testified on the bill before the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Revenue. Under Proposition 2 ½, Springfield cannot collect property taxes from ‘new growth,’ Sarno noted. “The Legislature has provided for a potentially huge economic driver in our city in the form of a casino,” he told members of the committee. “We all know that the benefits of a casino are still a few years away, but if we are lucky enough to have one, our benefits are even further away than you think due to the constraints of Proposition 2 ½ and its rules around how new growth is calculated.” Sarno is currently negotiating with two casino companies that are each proposing estimated $800 million casino resorts for Springfield. MGM Resorts International is planning a casino in the South End, and Penn National Gaming is planning a casino in the North End.

 

Springfield Wins $21.9M for Disaster Recovery

SPRINGFIELD — The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) recently announced that it is allocating $21.9 million to the Springfield to aid its recovery from weather disasters in 2011.
The funding is in response to the June 1 tornado that swept through Springfield and surrounding communities, as well as Hurricane Irene, which brought flooding to many communities two months later; both events were declared federal disasters.
The funds are part of $514 million allocated among nine states nationwide through HUD’s Community Development Block Grant program.
“In the last two years, many communities have had to deal with the reality of our changing climate and the increasing severity of natural disasters,” said Shaun Donovan, HUD secretary. “HUD is continuing to work closely with state and local partners to help them realize a locally driven vision for restoring and rebuilding housing, infrastructure, and businesses that have been affected.”

 

Springfield Unemployment Declines in February

SPRINGFIELD — The city’s unemployment rate fell in February to 10.6% from 11.7% in January. Springfield’s unemployment rate was 11.4% a year ago in February 2012, according to figures from the state Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development and the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. As a region, Greater Springfield’s unemployment rate was 8% in February, down from 8.8% the previous month and 8.5% a year ago in February 2012. At the same time, the number of employed Springfield residents rose from 57,039 in January to 57,566 in February. The numbers are not adjusted for seasonal changes in the economy, and unemployment rates typically spike in January as holiday-season jobs end before spring construction jobs begin. The statewide unadjusted unemployment rate was 6.8% in February. Adjusted for inflation, the unemployment rate was 6.5%. The national average, adjusted for seasonality, was 7.7% in February. Meanwhile, Massachusetts has surpassed pre-recession job levels statewide. Revised numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed 3,318,500 jobs in February, compared to 3,304,300 in April 2008.

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