Boston officials are launching a multiyear effort to revitalize the cityís industrial port that includes expanding the cruise ship terminal, restoring freight rail service, and rebuilding docks to help compete for lucrative ship repair contracts.
The city-owned Marine Industrial Park is hamstrung by an outdated road and rail network and crumbling wharf structures that were largely built for the military in the early 1940s. City officials believe an $84 million upgrade financed by the government would trigger related investments by private businesses that would expand and redevelop under-used property in the area.
The Boston Redevelopment Authority has applied for federal stimulus money to pay for the upgrades, and yesterday Mayor Thomas M. Menino launched a campaign to win the funds by hosting a tour of the port area for US Representative Stephen F. Lynch and other officials who will lobby on the cityís behalf in Washington, D.C.
Nearly two years into the stateís painful recession, the governor plans to hold an economic summit today.
That should tell you something about our stateís leadership during the worst economic period in decades. A long roster of speakers at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston will talk up our prospects in the near and presumably improving future. I didnít see anyone in my copy of a draft agenda likely to acknowledge the fact weíve been deep in the muck for going on two years.
To be fair, governors get too much credit during sunny economic periods and too much blame during tough times. Recessions are big national clouds that rain on everyone, even if some regions get wetter than others. Governors, including Deval Patrick, donít create the economyís really big problems and they canít solve them either.
Itís been a long, hard recession, but for Massachusetts technology companies, the end may be in sight.
Take, for example, Varian Semiconductor Equipment Associates Inc., which builds costly machines used by makers of the microchips that are found in virtually every modern device, from cellphones to jumbo jets. Like a lot of tech companies in Massachusetts, Varian does not sell directly to consumers but to the companies that make computers and other retail products.
But demand for chips collapsed after last yearís financial meltdown, and so did Varianís sales. The company, based in Gloucester, laid off 300 workers last fall and another 80 in the first six months of 2009.
Renting an apartment in the Boston area remains expensive, despite the precipitous drop in property values that has benefited some home buyers, according to a report from the areaís largest community foundation and a group that promotes affordable housing.
The Greater Boston Housing Report Card 2009 shows renters in the region pay an average of $1,629 a month, 11 percent more than four years ago, even though housing values dropped about 18 percent during the same period.
Barry Bluestone, the reportís coauthor, attributed the increase to a growing demand for rentals, as people who lost their houses to foreclosure have moved into apartments, and to a high number of qualified buyers who remain content to rent until the economy stabilizes.
Circulation at The Boston Globe, the Boston Herald, and many other newspapers around the country fell sharply in the six-month period that ended in September as more readers got their news and information from the Internet.
The Globeís daily circulation dropped 18.5 percent to 264,105, while the Heraldís fell 17.5 percent to 138,260, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations, which tracks industry results. The Boston Sunday Globeís circulation declined 16.9 percent in the period to 418,529, while the Heraldís Sunday circulation fell 4.4 percent to 95,635.
The circulation declines hurt an industry already reeling from the difficult economy as well as continuing changes in the habits of readers and advertisers. As a result, a number of news organizations, including The New York Times Co., the owner of the Globe, have sharply raised subscriber and newsstand prices in an effort to generate increased circulation revenue even as the number of papers sold declines. Raising prices helps pay for the full cost of putting out the newspaper, which historically had been subsidized by robust advertising revenue.
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