Tuesday, June 13, 2017

State looks to cash in on booming, online home-sharing industry

SALEM — Airbnb, the online vacation home-sharing company, had more listings in Salem last Halloween, 105, than the 93 rooms available at the Hawthorne Hotel, which is typically booked solid during the holiday.
But unlike the Hawthorne Hotel, property owners who use websites like Airbnb, Flipkey by Trip Advisor, VRBO, and HomeAway to promote short-term rentals have collected a dime in hotel room taxes.
That could change if a provision in the state Senate's version of the budget passes.
At the same time, both local and state officials say they are just as concerned about regulating the nascent vacation home sharing industry as they are with taxing it.
"I'm worried about who's going to make sure that these people have carbon monoxide detectors and fire detectors," said Salem state Rep. Paul Tucker, the city's former police chief. "There has to be a regulation piece and somebody has to pay for that, and that is really where the fees and taxes should come in."
Home-sharing services offer an online platform that allows hosts to advertise an extra room in their house, cottage, apartment or condominium, or even an entire home for short-term rental. The site takes care of collecting the money from the guest.
Airbnb says it's a way for homeowners to make ends meet or save for retirement. 
Salem, which sees a heavy influx of tourists during the Halloween season, has the larges number of active hosts — 96 — listed on the North Shore, according to Airbnb.
During Halloween weekend, 300 guests were accommodated by Airbnb hosts, twice the total during Halloween in 2015, according to the company.
The average nightly price of booked listings during Halloween weekend was $210. The typical Salem host made $800 during Halloween weekend, and they earn $9,100 a year, Airbnb says. Guest arrivals for Halloween were up 130 percent from last Halloween.
Support for expanding the room occupancy tax to home-sharing sites is gaining momentum on Beacon Hill.
"I think when you bring in a new industry, such as Airbnb ... I think that is fair game, relative to a discussion," House Speaker Robert DeLeo told the North Shore Chamber of Commerce last week. 
Find out more from the Salem News here

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Lahey Health leader says community care costs less

DANVERS — Amid talk of soaring Bay State health care costs and uncertainty about the Affordable Care Act, the head of Lahey Health told North Shore business leaders that people need to consider their community hospitals before heading to Boston for care.
Lahey Health President and CEO Dr. Howard Grant spoke to a packed ballroom of business leaders Wednesday morning at the North Shore Chamber of Commerce’s Health Care Breakfast at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel. 
Grant noted that health care costs are the No. 1 concern of business leaders, in a state that he said has one of the finest health care systems around — and one of the most expensive.
The Lahey CEO also addressed Monday’s announcement that the boards of Lahey and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center have signed a letter of intent to explore combining the two health care systems. While Grant did not give specifics, he gave a general timeline for the merger.
“It’s something that we are really excited about,” he said. “It’s not something that will happen overnight. We will go through a considerable amount of due diligence over the next three or four months, and then there will be a long regulatory process for another year or so after that.”
Grant said both organizations were committed to what he called a “high value model. We believe there is an opportunity to sustain the quality of care that exists in Massachusetts today without compromising quality and lowering your costs over time. I think we are capable of doing that.”
The process will require state and federal approvals.
Lahey Health represents the 2012 merger of Northeast Health System and Lahey Clinic Foundation. On the North Shore, this includes Beverly Hospital, Lahey Medical Center in Peabody, Addison Gilbert Hospital in Gloucester and Lahey Outpatient Center in Danvers.
Health care costs ‘unsustainable’
Calling the cost of health care in Massachusetts “unsustainable,” Grant said the cost is 36 percent higher here than the national average. A large part of the problem is that people prefer to go to higher cost teaching hospitals in Boston, making it harder to sustain community hospitals. 
About 40 percent of Medicare discharges happen at downtown academic medical centers in Massachusetts, Grant said, compared with a 16-percent national average. A procedure in Boston can cost double or triple what it would cost at a community hospital.
Read the Entire Salem News Article here

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Our view: Salem State president leaves legacy of integrity, commitment

When Patricia Maguire Meservey took over as president of Salem State College in 2007, she had some big shoes to fill.
Former President Nancy Harrington, a native of Salem, had pretty much devoted her adult life to the college, where she was widely respected, and had forged strong ties with the city and the community.
Ten years later, it is Meservey who is leaving; she announced last week that she will retire at the end of this academic year. And though her footprint has been different, she leaves a university that is much stronger and solidly positioned for the future. She, too, has won the respect and affection of the Salem State community, while reaching out to alumni; showing leadership on academic issues, including the move to university status; and handling some extraordinary crises, including the stabbing of a professor.
Not only has she continued to modernize campus facilities, she successfully launched and completed a $25 million fundraising campaign that will ensure a healthy endowment for the future.
In Salem and on the North Shore, however, it is not how she has operated within the academic community, but how she has interacted with the wider community that will seal her legacy here. Not everyone in Salem has been approving of the university’s growth, and there have certainly been some growing pains. But to her credit, Meservey has been a listener as well as a leader, and her sincerity, empathy and clear focus have helped to smooth some of the rougher passages.
When Salem neighbors opposed plans for Viking Hall, a striking glass dormitory on Loring Avenue, Meservey listened, and downsized plans for the building. When complaints arose about the university’s new parking garage, she tried and largely failed to appease the neighbors. But, despite vehement opposition, she refused to sugarcoat things; the university would continue to grow, she said, not so it could add more students, but so it could provide a better educational experience, with more students living on campus and using modernized facilities.
Honesty and an even keel count for a lot, but not if people don’t know you well enough to trust you. With Meservey, that was never an issue, because from the beginning she made it clear that she wanted to be part of the North Shore community and to use the university’s resources to make this a better place to live. So when state educators labeled Salem’s public schools “underperforming,” and gave the city three years to turn things around, Meservey was one of the first to step up to the plate.
Not only did the university provide academic assistance, but Meservey chaired an advisory board that helped to design the turnaround. Said Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll: “The commitment of university resources to our public schools has never been stronger.”
Read the Entire Salem News article here

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

End of an Era at Cherry Hill Industrial Park – Connolly makes way for new KROHNE Inc US Corporate Headquarters

December 2016 marks a significant milestone in the life of the Cherry Hill Industrial Park here in Beverly as we begin to make way for constructing the new US Corporate headquarters for KROHNE Inc.  KROHNE is a world leading manufacturer and supplier of solutions in the industrial process instrumentation field.  KROHNE is relocating their US headquarters to one of the last vacant sites on the Beverly side of the Industrial Park.  This move includes complete demolition of a 55,000sf office building that was built in the early 1990’s to make way for 93,000sf of new manufacturing and office space in two separate buildings on the 10 acre site.  This project is significant for a number of reasons – most interestingly this is the first of the original buildings built in the park to be demolished to make way for new construction.  The project is a telltale of today’s market trend – low supply of specialized manufacturing and office space in the area is driving customers to seek out dated buildings based on their location.  The cost to remove and build new is more efficient than major modification and addition to an existing dated building.  Stay tuned for more progress.

Read the Entire Article here

Monday, December 12, 2016

Business leader says Trump changes could boost economy

IPSWICH — The Trump administration could bring some welcome changes to the New England economy by lowering business taxes, boosting spending on roads and bridges, and loosening federal regulations on banks, James Brett, the long-time president and CEO of the The New England Council, told local business people Friday morning. 
Trade policy, he said, is still an uncertainty for New England's importers and exporters.
Brett shared his thoughts about Trump and the economy at a North Shore Chamber of Commerce's breakfast forum at the Ipswich Country Club.
The New England Council is a regional business organization that lobbies for economic development issues in Washington, D.C. 
Here are highlights of his talk.
Tax reform to spur job growth had been stymied by a deeply divided Congress, Brett said, but that could change under a Trump administration.
"Now we have a president who campaigned on the pledge to fix our broken tax system, perhaps even in his first 100 days in office," Brett said, "and a Republican-controlled House and a Republican-controlled Senate who seemed eager to work with him." 
The House Republican plan, he noted, aims to make the tax code simpler, fairer and flatter for individuals by bringing the number of tax brackets down from seven to three, something the Trump tax plan also favors. 
The business community has also called for a reduction in the corporate tax rate of 35 percent. The House Republican plan would lower this rate to 20 percent; the Trump plan drop it to 15 percent, while also eliminating the corporate alternative minimum tax, moves that are favored by businesses, Brett said.
Good news for New England, he added, is that Springfield Congressman Richard Neal, a Democrat and the dean of the New England congressional delegation, is the most senior-ranking Democratic member of the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee.
Trump has vowed to act quickly on a $1 trillion spending plan for roads and bridges, Brett said, something that both sides of the aisle agree is needed to help businesses stay competitive and create construction jobs. Brett said there were 1,800 bridges in New England rated structurally deficient by the federal government in 2015.
"You and I know, all we need is one accident on one of those 1,800 bridges, and you have a fatality, and Congress would say it's time. Public safety demands it, so this is an issue both sides are very interested in addressing."
While few details about Trump's infrastructure plan are known, private financing serves as its cornerstone, Brett said, with $137 billion in federal tax credits to back the program. Brett said this approach has come under harsh criticism, because it is feared private investors would only be interested in doing projects that create a revenue stream to recoup costs, such as those that have tolls or user fees. That might mean some critical infrastructure fixes would be ignored, he said.
Business regulation
Trump has expressed interest in rolling back aspects of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act that was passed after the recession eight years ago.
"Many institutions," Brett said, "particularly the small community banks and credit unions which are so important to our region, have found Dodd-Frank regulations to be incredibly burdensome and frustrating."
Small banks, he said, were not responsible for the financial crisis, and some small banks employ more regulatory compliance officers than they do loan officers.
Uncertainty about international trade and access to foreign markets continues to be a concern among New England businesses, Brett said. It appears the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade agreement among 12 nations of the Pacific Rim, is dead, Brett said, "which is very frustrating for many businesses who waited several years for the agreement to be finally completed."
Read the Entire Salem News Article here

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Mass. jobless rate falls to 3.3 percent

The Massachusetts unemployment rate declined for the fourth consecutive month in October, falling to 3.3 percent.
The drop brings the rate to a low last seen in April 2001, the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development reported Thursday. September's rate of 3.6 percent was last hit in June 2001.
Compared to October 2015, there are 55,400 fewer unemployed residents and 100,700 more who are employed.
The largest private sector job gains by percentage over the year have occurred in the fields of construction; professional, scientific and business services; education and health services; and leisure and hospitality.
The professional, scientific and business services sector gained 1,700 jobs over the month and 18,100 over the year.
The state shed 5,500 jobs in October. Fields that lost jobs over the month included education and health services (4,100), trade, transportation and utilities (2,400); and leisure and hospitality (1,600).
September job gains were higher than originally reported, with 8,100 jobs added instead of the original 5,100.
October's estimates show 3,491,500 Massachusetts residents were employed and 117,300 unemployed, labor officials said.
Read the Entire Salem News Article here

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Distinguished leaders blessed by Chamber honors

DANVERS — They thanked their families, spouses and children. Some thanked their teachers or mentors, or those who came out to support them. 
All 10 newly minted North Shore Distinguished Leaders said they were honored to be among such company Wednesday night.
The North Shore Chamber of Commerce's 98th annual dinner at the Danversport Yacht Club was attended by 500 business leaders who singled out 10 local leaders for their volunteerism and commitment to the North Shore.
"This is an honor I never expected to see. It's really quite wonderful," said Dr. Martha Farmer, the president, CEO and founder of the nonprofit biotech and cleantech incubator North Shore InnoVentures at the Cummings Center in Beverly.
"They say that if you love what you do for work, it's not really work," said Farmer, who thanked her team for making her job so enjoyable.
In addition to Farmer, the other nine leaders honored were: attorney and former Beverly city solicitor Thomas Alexander of the Beverly law firm Alexander & Femino; Karen Andreas, regional publisher of the North of Boston Media Group, which publishes four daily newspapers in the region including The Salem News; Peabody City Councilor and CEO David Gravel, along with his wife Catherine, who is also the executive vice president of the family technology consulting firm GraVoc Associates of Peabody; Gloucester resident Gwen Cochran Hadden of the management consulting firm Cochran Hadden Royston Associates; Richard Holbrook, the retiring chairman and CEO of Eastern Bank; David LaFlamme, the retiring CEO of North Shore Bank; Pamela Scott, president and CEO of the business consulting firm LVCC, Inc. and a Salem State University trustee; and Salem attorney William Tinti, a senior partner at Tinti Quinn Grover and Frey LLC.
A selection committee looked at various criteria for the awards, including demonstration of leadership, commitment to social responsibility, strong community involvement and a proven economic or social impact on the region.
Alexander thanked an English teacher for recognizing his potential and helping him achieve his goals in life.
Andreas, in turn, thanked Alexander, who she said took her under his wing (while the city solicitor) when she was a "cub reporter" in Beverly City Hall.
"Congratulations to everyone," Andreas said, "we are so blessed to live in this region. We have the best education, the best businesses, the best communities, I'm thrilled to be here.
Read the Entire Salem News Article here