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.
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."
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.
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.
SALEM — Salem Five Bancorp has agreed to acquire the parent of Georgetown Bank in a move that will give Salem Five a branch footprint in Southern New Hampshire and an expanded presence in the Merrimack Valley, according to a statement from the bank.
On Thursday, Salem Five Bancorp, the parent of Salem Five Cents Savings Bank, announced an all-cash deal to purchase Georgetown Bancorp Inc. and its subsidiary Georgetown Bank, in a transaction valued at $49.2 million. Salem Five, which has assets of $4 billion, said both banks had signed a definitive agreement for Salem Five to acquire Georgetown Bancorp.
Shareholders of Georgetown Bancorp, which has assets of $300 million, will receive $26 in cash for each share of its common stock, representing an approximately 148 percent of Georgetown Bancorp’s tangible book value as of June 30.
“Salem Five and Georgetown Bank both have longstanding histories as community banks with high standards of integrity, as well as a strong sense of responsibility for the economic vitality of our region,” said Ping Yin Chai, Salem Five Bancorp president and CEO, in a prepared statement. “Their footprint is an area of the North Shore, Merrimack Valley and Southern New Hampshire where we are excited to expand our existing branch franchise and complement Salem Five’s existing retail network.”
Salem Five has 30 retail branches in Essex, Middlesex, Suffolk and Norfolk counties. Georgetown Bank has branches in Georgetown, North Andover, Rowley and Stratham, New Hampshire.
The merger is expected to close during the first quarter of 2017.
After more than 30 years of ferreting out opportunities from fast-growing companies, investment guru Robert Lutts, whose first job was as a newspaper carrier in Salem, decided to put his strategies down on paper.
“The Great Game of Business: Investing to Win” is the 59-year-old’s first book, and it has been published by his company, Cabot Wealth Management Inc. on Essex Street in downtown Salem. Lutts is the founder, president and chief investment officer of the mid-sized wealth management company.
The book aims to give advice and know-how to the novice investor.
It’s also a refresher for seasoned professionals, he says. The book is not long, around 200 pages, and it’s written in Lutts’ plainspoken style, in bites that are far easier to digest than a quarterly earnings statement.
“The book is for anybody interested in business or investing,” Lutts said. “You can’t really separate the issue of running a business from investing. It’s one and the same. A good investment is really someone who is running a business well.”
Lutts learned all about investing around the dinner table, from his late father, Carlton Lutts Jr., who was the author of thousands of investment newsletters called the “Cabot Market Letter.” He taught his son to read an annual report and starting taking him to annual meetings of companies when he was 14.
Robert Lutts got his start by selling his investment services as a “branch out” of his father’s investment newsletter.
“The genesis of why to do it is to share with people, I think, how wealth is made and how wealth is created by entrepreneurs in this country,” Lutts said about why he wrote the book.
“After 33 years of doing something, maybe you think you have a little something to say,” said Lutts, who is also known to viewers as a regular contributor to CNBC’s “Power Lunch.”
Growth companies are Lutts’ real passion — studying entrepreneurs and the innovative part of the economy. His book takes a close look at his growth strategy as he seeks to invest in companies doing “new things.”
That’s opposed to the strategy of a value investor, such as Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett, who invests in mature companies, like Coca-Cola, and seeks value in them if they are able to turn things around.
“The problem with it is sometimes you buy into an industry that is actually starting to die,” Lutts said of value investing. “And, you know, we don’t sell buggy whips anymore.” He cites long-gone minicomputer companies such as Wang Labs and Digital Equipment Corp. as examples. “That whole era is gone,” he says.
The challenge with growth investing is simple: “When do you get off the train after it’s growing.”
Salem Five is entering the retail banking market in southern New Hampshire and expanding its North Shore footprint by acquiring the four-branch Georgetown Bank for $49.2 million.
The parent company of Salem Five, one of the largest mutual banks in the state with $3.9 billion in assets, has agreed to buy Georgetown’s parent company (Nasdaq: GTWN) and its approximately $300 million in assets.
The all-cash deal gives Salem Five its first retail branch in New Hampshire, as Georgetown has an office in Stratham, New Hampshire, just south of Portsmouth. The other three branches are in Massachusetts, in Georgetown, Rowley and North Andover. Salem Five already has two offices in North Andover, including one just a few doors down from Georgetown's office. The bank will likely consolidate the offices in the town, according to President and CEO Ping Yin Chai. Salem Five does not currently have branches in Georgetown or Rowley.
As with Salem Five, the largest portion of Georgetown’s loan portfolio is residential mortgages, followed by commercial real estate loans. Georgetown is one of the least profitable banks in the state so far this year, as measured by pre-tax return on assets, though it has performed better on the metric in past years. The bank has recently made investments in technology and personnel that have driven down profitability, according to Chai.
Under the agreement, Georgetown shareholders will receive $26 for each of their shares of common stock. The stock had closed Wednesday at $20.88.
Georgetown will become a mutual bank if and when the deal is approved by regulators and Georgetown shareholders. It is expected to close in the first quarter of 2017.
SALEM — The lack of a sales tax holiday in August hurt sales at stores across the state, the head of the Retailers Association of Massachusetts said Wednesday.
Association President Jon Hurst told business leaders gathered at the North Shore Chamber of Commerce breakfast forum that the state’s decision to bypass the traditional tax-free weekend this year was “penny wise and pound foolish.”
Hurst said retailers reported a 45 percent drop in sales in the second weekend of August this year, as compared to the same period in 2015. Overall, August sales were down 24 percent from 2015.
Association members reported a 3.6 percent drop in the amount of sales tax they collected for August, Hurst said. Stores also brought on fewer workers for what has traditionally been a strong shopping weekend.
The retailers group regularly surveys its 4,000 members to provide a snapshot of the retail industry as a whole, said Hurst, a Beverly resident.
Traditionally, the so-called holiday is meant to help consumers save the sales tax on most purchases. Sales of gasoline, cars, motorboats, meals or a single item that costs more than $2,500 do not qualify.
Leaders in the state House and Senate, worried about sluggish tax collections, passed on the holiday this year.
The end result was not lost on local lawmakers.
“It is a big boon for our local retailers,” said state Sen. Joan Lovely, D-Salem, who attended the event at the Salem Waterfront Hotel.
Like other North Shore lawmakers interviewed, Lovely said she would have voted for the holiday, but the measure never came up for a vote. A sales tax holiday can give a boost to businesses at a slow time of year, and also help consumers who are back-to-school shopping, she said.
Hurst said the state’s 6.25 percent sales tax puts local businesses at a competitive disadvantage.
“It’s particularly acute in Massachusetts because of New Hampshire,” Hurst said, given New Hampshire has no sales tax.
“Online competitors have a 365 day a year sales tax holiday,” Hurst said, “and this year we couldn’t get our two-day holiday.”
SALEM — A hotel being developed in an uncommon space downtown is planning some uncommon features, including basement level shuffleboard, a vintage design up front and rooftop dining options.
Meet Hotel Salem, the 44-room Lark Hotel boutique hotel at 209 Essex St., by all approximation the heart of downtown’s Pedestrian Mall.
The plans for Hotel Salem got special attention at a series of informal, informational meetings hosted by Ward 2 City Councilor Heather Famico on Tuesday and Wednesday. Plans for Peabody Essex Museum’s long-awaited expansion also got a showing at the events.
Today, the building’s windows facing Essex Street are mostly covered in kraft paper. An opening in the kraft coverings allows for limited line of sight to an empty, unoccupied space in the midst of construction and demolition.
“We’re pretty far along the process,” said Paul Durand, principal at Winter Street Architects, the company handling the design of the project, as he presented the future of the building to neighbors. “I’m going to show you where we are.”
The project is expected to take about seven months and aims to begin after Halloween, leaving crews enough time to take care of outside utility work before the ground freezes toward the end of the year, according to Durand.
On the outside, the Newmark Building will see extensive masonry repairs and enlarging of all the windows on Essex Street, according to Durand.
Farmers throughout the North Shore are seeing the effects of the long summer drought in smaller vegetables and fruits, and fewer of them.
In Danvers, Bill Clark, whose family has operated Clark Farm for nearly 300 years, says he got less squash this year than usual. The tomatoes fared a little better.
“They were very sweet, but some of them weren’t quite as big as they usually are,” he said. “There’s less product around to share. It’s made what’s available more expensive.”
But he knows others who are in worse shape.
Corn didn’t grow because of the dryness, Clark said. Some orchards have also seen great reductions in produce; he mentioned one in New Hampshire that he said is trucking in water each day.
The long, dry season has been so difficult that the government has stepped in, including Essex County under a drought designation that makes farmers eligible for both a disaster program and emergency loans.
Clark said he won’t need assistance from either of the programs. He added, though, that a loan program can be difficult on farmers in terms of being able to pay the money back.
One notable difference at his farm, Clark said, is he doesn’t think he will put in a cover crop this year. He usually uses winter rye, which grows a couple of inches in the fall and helps with soil erosion, along with other benefits.
“I just think it’s going to be a waste of time,” he said. “It will probably just lay on the surface.”
At Brooksby Farm in Peabody, workers were able to maintain the orchards with an irrigation system, according to Michelle Melanson, an assistant manager.
“Our apple crop looks good, it doesn’t look exceptional,” she said. “There’s definitely not a bumper crop. We may have a shorter season.”
Earlier varieties didn’t fare as well as the later ones, she said. Tomatoes, zucchini and summer squash were “OK.”
DANVERS — In June 2010, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation announced what it hailed as a “great” new public-private partnership with the Liberty Tree Mall.
Simon Properties, the giant real estate company that owns the mall, agreed to provide space for a Registry of Motor Vehicles branch at no cost. It was one of four new rent-free branches throughout the state that officials said would save taxpayers $700,000 per year in leasing costs.
Six years later, the Liberty Tree Mall branch is closed and the state is searching, unsuccessfully so far, for a new location to serve North Shore residents. And based on the only two offers it has received, taxpayers are in for some serious sticker shock.
The two proposals, from property owners in Peabody and Beverly, called for annual rents ranging from $400,000 to $700,000. The state rejected those offers and last week issued a second request for proposals, this time expanding the area for potential sites to include Lynn, Lynnfield, Wakefield and Middleton.
State officials are obviously hoping to receive less expensive offers the second time around. But whatever happens, taxpayers are certain to be on the hook for much more money than they were paying at Liberty Tree Mall, which was $41,729 in the final year of a three-year lease.
What makes the matter more confounding for the public is the explanation for why the mall branch closed — a malfunctioning HVAC system.
In announcing the closing in June, the Department of Transportation said the current HVAC system was insufficient and the upgrades needed to make the location viable were “too costly.” The mall installed a new HVAC system at a cost of $25,000 in 2015, but RMV officials said problems with the air-conditioning persisted, forcing them to move out.
Many RMV customers are having a hard time buying the explanation that a faulty HVAC system was the real cause of a move that could end up costing taxpayers 10 times more than they were paying for the mall.
Danvers state Rep. Ted Speliotis agreed that there must be more to the breakup between the registry and the mall, but he said he doesn’t know what it is.
“I don’t know enough to comment,” he said. “I do know enough to know it was bigger than just the HVAC.”
SWAMPSCOTT — A group led by Rabbi Yossi Lipsker and his wife, Layah, of Chabad of the North Shore, recently headed on a humanitarian mission after the flood waters receded in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
At first, they wondered if their services would still be needed, since the flooding had subsided.
Turns out, there was plenty to do during the two-day mission late last month.
Louisiana suffered terrible flooding in August, with entire neighborhoods and tens of thousands of people affected. Many lost everything in their homes. It has been considered the worst natural disaster to affect the nation since Superstorm Sandy in 2012.
The trip, from Aug. 29 to 31, involved 16 people who volunteered in some of the hardest hit parts of Baton Rouge. Although the flood waters had receded, streets still contained piles of ruined possessions.
The trip was organized by Chabad of the North Shore and sponsored by Nate Dalton, Lipsker said. It involved a cross section of the community, with Jews and non-Jews flying down to help out.
“It was a desire to help,” Lipsker said. “This is part of representing the Jewish community.” It’s a central part of the Jewish faith not to turn your back when there is a need, Lipsker said.
“Everyone who went really felt we would make a concrete difference,” Lipsker said.
Massachusetts First Lady Lauren Baker, a Swampscott resident, connected the group with the Red Cross.
“She was able to immediately to get us to the right people to make sure we were deployed and we were able to make a difference,” Lipsker said.
BEVERLY — Not Your Average Joe’s may be moving to Peabody, but Evviva Cucina is ready to take over its old location.
The 45 Enon St. location is empty at the moment, but the new Italian restaurant plans to open its doors in a few months, according to Chris Kourkoulis, the property owner and manager.
“They’re probably going to start working in a few weeks,” Kourkoulis said, adding that the owners are working on obtaining the site’s liquor license and may also put in a new patio.
Evviva Cucina assumed Not Your Average Joe’s lease, Kourkoulis said. He added that he thinks it’s a “very good fit for the space.”
Evviva Cucina’s location in Westford boasts a menu filled with Italian favorites, from a variety of pizzas, made in a wood stone oven, to chicken Marsala and chicken Parmigiana. The restaurant also offers sandwiches and has a full bar.
SALEM — Salem State University’s graduation rate has climbed over the 50 percent mark for the first time, a milestone in the school’s effort to improve what has been the lowest graduation rate among Massachusetts’ state universities.
The rate, which tracks the percentage of freshmen who graduate within six years, is now at 52 percent, an increase of more than 10 percent in the last five years.
Salem State officials cited several reasons for the improvement, including more support for struggling students, increased flexibility in choosing courses, and a reduction in the number of unprepared students admitted to the school.
“We’re thrilled,” said Corey Cronin, assistant vice president for marketing and creative services at Salem State. “What we have put in place is actually working. It’s helping our students graduate more quickly, which saves them money.”
Salem State has ranked last among the nine state universities for several years in a row in the six-year graduation rate for full-time freshmen. Graduation rates at other state universities ranged from 74 percent at Massachusetts College of Art and Design to 49 percent at Worcester State University in 2013. Salem State’s rate was as low as 37 percent for the 2001 freshman class.
Scott James, vice president for enrollment management and student life, said Salem State has historically had a lower graduation rate in part because it serves a larger percentage of low-income students.
BEVERLY — Earning Congressman Seth Moulton's first Peter J. Gomes Service Award came as a surprise to Andrew DeFranza, executive director for Harborlight Community Partners.
There were six finalists narrowed down from a nominee pool of 30. But DeFranza's work with Harborlight to provide housing to those most in need throughout the North Shore stood out.
The new award, established by Moulton about a month ago and awarded in Lynn Sunday, endeavors to annually recognize someone in the 6th Congressional District, which Moulton represents, "who best epitomizes the qualities of integrity, compassion, and commitment to community that were the foundation of the late Reverend Professor Peter J. Gomes' teachings," according to a news release.
Gomes was the minister of the The Memorial Church of Harvard University for almost 40 years, and was also an author and teacher. He passed away in 2011 at age 68. Moulton cited Gomes as "my mentor and my friend."
“He once wrote, 'The very definition of service is to love our neighbors as ourselves, work for peace and not for war, and remember that the only hands on earth to do the work of service are our own,'" Moulton said in a prepared statement.
During the award ceremony, Moulton described how through the last nine years, Harborlight has helped create nearly 500 affordable housing units throughout the North Shore.
"But it was the description submitted by his nominator that really set Andrew apart," Moulton said. "This focus on community and affordable housing is not merely to put a roof over the heads of those in need, but it also an effort to ensure that many public servants — teachers, law enforcement officers, and firefighters — can afford to live in the town in which they work and have grown up."
DeFranza said that all of the nominees and finalists are "great people" and stressed that "everything we're doing is a very large team effort." That goes for staff at Harborlight to the people living in the complexes the organization helps build, to the local officials and boards that help push the projects forward and include "people who might be excluded in the North Shore."
DANVERS — It’s been more than a year since Gov. Charlie Baker came to the U.S. headquarters of medical device maker Abiomed and smashed a wall with a golden sledgehammer, symbolizing the company’s expansion into adjacent warehouse space once used by a trucking company.
Abiomed CEO, President and Chairman Michael Minogue, a former Army infantry officer and a Desert Storm veteran, also took up the sledgehammer, tearing a hole into the wall at a time when his company was on a tear with plans to add 100 jobs.
Since then, the medical device maker has more than met its hiring goal, and it has also expanded its expansion plans.
The increasing use by hospitals to treat severely ill heart patients with Abiomed’s Impella, the world’s smallest heart pump, has meant big things for the Danvers-based company, which is expanding its manufacturing and engineering facilities at its U.S. headquarters at 22 Cherry Hill Drive.
In July, the publicly traded company reported $103 million in revenue for the quarter, a 40 percent jump compared with the same period last year. U.S. patient use of the Impella was up 40 percent, and the company said it added 27 hospitals in the quarter, bringing its installed customer base to 1,066 hospitals.
To illustrate its growth, the company set a goal two years ago of treating 37,673 patients with Impella — enough to fill Fenway Park.
Today, Abiomed has surpassed that goal.
Since last year, the company has not only been working on its previously announced expansion plans in the building, but it has taken over the entire facility. Minogue said Abiomed is in the process of buying the property.
The expansion will increase the facility from 60,000 square feet to 170,000 square feet. The company will have more than doubled its manufacturing capability in Danvers.
The expansion will hold manufacturing and engineering space, along with a new 100-seat training room where physicians and nurses can learn how to use the company’s heart-assist technology. The company is also adding a new front entrance to the building.
Minogue showed a cavernous manufacturing clean room that has been outfitted with workbenches as the company goes through the painstaking process of readying the room for medical device manufacturing.
BEVERLY — Endicott College President Richard Wylie greeted Beverly native Pete Frates Tuesday afternoon for the dedication of the college's newest dorm, which bears his name, with Wylie jokingly thanking Frates for not wearing his Boston College colors. The celebration also featured a possible record-breaking Ice Bucket Challenge, an event synonymous with Frates and ALS.
Frates, his wife Julie, daughter Lucy, father and Ward 6 City Councilor John Frates, mother Nancy, brother Andrew and other friends and family looked on as hundreds of Endicott College students and staff, wearing T-shirts and gym shorts, doused themselves with buckets of water. They yelled and cheered as they cooled off on what turned into a hot summer afternoon, as the group crowded around an embankment at the back of the new Peter Frates Hall, a 225-bed undergraduate residence hall on campus.
The college estimates 1,500 people took part in the challenge. The previously known record for the largest group to get a cold soaking is 776, according to the college.
Lucy and Julie Frates were given the honor of pulling a string that eventually released a tarp to reveal the engraved name at the front of the building, which is now visible along Hale Street (Route 127).
"We have received an awful lot of accolades, tributes and honors, but nothing of a permanent nature such as this," said John Frates. "So we thank you, forever."
He said his son refused to listen to doctors who told him he should live out the few years he would have left in a quiet manner to reserve his energy. Instead, Pete Frates harnessed social media to trigger change, "and prove that one man can make a huge difference in this world."
Mom Nancy Frates noted to the hundreds of well wishers gathered that this day was important for the whole community.
"Our family's hope is that the building's residents find inspiration, enlightenment, friendship and great learning within its walls," she said.
Students who live in this dorm will know of Pete Frates' legacy because inside the front foyer is a tribute wall, the Frates Wall, designed and installed by White Light Visual in Beverly.
The walls shows Frates during his ball playing days taking a left-hand swing next to Lou Gehrig, the famous Yankee player who was also cut down at age 37 by ALS in 1941.
PEABODY — Peabody will become home to one of the state’s largest nonprofits, when Lynnfield-based Bridgewell, which has bought an office building on Dearborn Road in Peabody, moves its headquarters there in early 2017. It will be one of the city’s largest employers.
Bridgewell provides services to 6,250 individuals with developmental and physical disabilities, autism, and other life challenges, such as substance abuse and homelessness.
“This is an important step to ensure Bridgewell remains in a strong position of continued growth over the next decade and beyond,” said Bob Stearns, the agency’s president and CEO. He cited increased demand for the agency’s adult autism services and programs for women recovering from addiction.
Bridgewell employs more than 1,400 people at facilities in 25 communities on the North Shore and Merrimack Valley, including in Danvers, Lynn and Haverhill.
On Aug. 1, Bridgewell completed the $3.5 million purchase of 10 Dearborn Road, where nearly 100 employees will work, mainly in administrative areas, program management and human resources.
“We have outgrown our administrative office,” Stearns said in an interview. “We have outgrown our space on Route 1.”
The new Peabody headquarters will also house Bridgewell’s Center for Professional Innovation, which offers continuing education workshops and training for mental health and health care professionals.
“We are thrilled to welcome Bridgewell to Peabody,” Mayor Ted Bettencourt said in a prepared statement. “In addition to becoming one of the largest employers in (Peabody), Bridgewell meets the needs of more than 6,000 individuals annually with a range of disabilities and life challenges, from autism to opioid addiction.”
Stearns, who has been with Bridgewell for 13 years, said the organization started in downtown Lynn by families with children in need of services. In 1958, it was a child guidance center helping those with emotional difficulties. It transitioned in the 1970s as state institutions closed and services were moved out into the community.
The McKay School was once a place to learn; now it’s a place to live.
It’s been a couple of years since Beverly Crossing, an arm of Windover Development, was awarded the winning bid to turn the school into apartments, but construction has concluded and the building opened in July. The first tenant moved in then, according to Chris Koeplin of Beverly Crossing.
Now, 15 of the 32 apartments and town homes are leased, and people have moved into 13 of those. The new complex is split into two parts: apartments in the former school, built in 1908, and town homes built in a new section added on back.
There are 19 one-bedroom units and 13 two-bedrooms, according to Matthew Lamoureux, the property manager for the project through The Dolben Company.
Walking into the old school, visitors find a mix of its classic features and modern updates. Much of the old, wooden flooring was preserved, and some of the banisters running along the staircases were reused. Historic photos line some of the walls, providing a window into life in Beverly in the past. Columns original to the building still stand in the entrance.
“We tried to preserve what we could, as much as we could,” Koeplin said.
But the building also has many new features, including a function room with a large television and a gym nearby. There are small garden plots in the back, and a path along Shoe Pond that’s supposed to complete the path around it that goes near the Cummings Center.
The school units feature high ceilings, and some of the old school hallways were turned into walk-in closets. The kitchen in a two-bedroom apartment opens up to the living room and features quartz countertops and stainless-steel appliances.
Efficiency was key. The common areas have motion-sensor lighting and will automatically turn off when not in use. The walls were also re-insulated with foam insulation, which is more efficient, according to Koeplin.
“We did solar on this roof here,” he said, gesturing skyward. “The solar powers the common areas.”
Town homes have their own separate entrances, and each comes with a patio.
Rent ranges from $1,835 to $2,175 for one-bedroom units — some feature a den — while two-bedrooms go for $2,200 to $2,625 in the school, Lamoureux said. The town homes go for a minimum of $1,895. Each comes with two parking spaces.
“There’s a lot of interest in the school,” Koeplin said, but less demand for the town homes.
So far, renters are a mix — some empty-nesters, some families. There’s also been some interest from people who work at the Cummings Center.
DANVERS — Asked to speak about one thing in his community that contributes to the economic vitality of the North Shore, Peabody Mayor Ted Bettencourt touted the work to revitalize Peabody Square.
“Downtown Peabody is again open for business,” Bettencourt said.
He and his fellow North Shore mayors, as well as the Danvers town manager, highlighted numerous projects and initiatives going on in their communities during the annual State of the Region address Wednesday morning at the North Shore Chamber of Commerce’s annual breakfast forum. Approximately 325 business leaders attended the event at the Danversport Yacht Club.
Bettencourt highlighted $6 million worth of state and local improvements to Peabody’s downtown, including a new traffic pattern, sidewalks, flood control measures and other upgrades to one of the busiest roadways in the region that handles nearly 30,000 vehicles each day.
“During the past 30 years or so, however, downtown Peabody has struggled to create an identity,” Bettencourt said. The downtown was seen as little more than a dreary, prone-to-flooding, pedestrian-unfriendly cut-through to Route 128 and the Northshore Mall.
“Many in Peabody, however, saw something different, saw possibilities, saw a future,” said Bettencourt, who said he ran for mayor in part to revitalize Peabody Square and Main Street.
The ongoing road work there includes the elimination of dangerous slip lanes and the relocation of the Civil War monument from the middle of Peabody Square to the front of Peabody District Court.
Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll noted her city, which has seen rapid growth in recent years, is just 10 years away from its 400th anniversary, and it’s time to start thinking about what kind of community Salem will be in 2026.
“We are seeing unprecedented growth,” said Driscoll, who listed a number of ongoing projects in the Witch City — from the $40 million National Grid cable transmission replacement project, the planned $230 million investment in the Salem campus of North Shore Medical Center, the $12 million fix to Canal Street and the $55 million renovation of the probate court building, which is nearing completion.
Driscoll also highlighted the ongoing $1 billion construction of Footprint Power’s gas-fired power plant at the site of the former coal- and oil-burning Salem Harbor Station. That project will also open up 40 acres of land along Salem Harbor, she said.