Thursday, March 31, 2011

Google to NE: No Google broadband for you!

Boston won't be getting the Next Big Google Thing, super-fast broadband. Kansas City, Kansas is the search engine giant's pick to deploy the new service. Boston's high-tech savvy wasn't enough apparently.

MASS HIGH TECH:
Bill Oates, the chief information officer for Boston, said last year that Boston would be a strong contender because of the variety of types of use it could offer - from large-scale government housing projects to wealthy townhouses to very tech-savvy businesses. “We think we provide a really good mix for what Google wants,” Oates said at the time.

Google said in its blog that it would be able to begin offering the 1 gigabit-per-second broadband to Kansas City sometime in 2012. By comparison, the average broadband speed in 2009 in United States was 4.8 megabits per second. No details were released on pricing plans or how much of Kansas City would be covered.
That's a big upgrade. Good luck to Kansas City, Kansas. With all that speed they probably won't even see us in the rear view mirror!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Massachusetts 10th in the nation in Tax Freedom Day

Massachusetts ranks tenth in the nation in terms of how long its residents must work to pay off the federal, state and local tax man according to the Tax Foundation. Mass taxpayers toil to raise the taxes to pay all governments through April 14, one day before the official federal income tax filing deadline. (Thanks to the holiday Massachusetts taxpayers have until April 19 to file this year).

Overall, American taxpayers will recognize their freedom on April 12.

High-income Connecticut finished first. Its taxpayers will see the light of day on May 2. Mississippi ranked last with a Tax Freedom Day of March 26.

To learn how Tax Freedom Day is calculated visit the Tax Foundation.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

It seemed like a good idea at the time

A stunning conclusion from the Kauffman Foundation by way of Mass High Tech:
The financial industry’s dizzying growth prior to 2008’s credit crisis may have stifled entrepreneurship by stealing talent that otherwise would have gone to innovative new companies.

That’s the conclusion of a new Kauffman Foundation report, which found that the financial industry recruited scientists, mathematicians, and engineers from graduate schools to create new financial instruments, such as the collateralized debt obligations that led to the financial crisis.

"Their talents have made them well-suited to the design of these complex instruments, in return for which they often make starting salaries five times or more what their salaries would have been had they stayed in their own fields and pursued employment with more tangible societal benefits," the study stated.

"Because these new hires are often the very individuals who otherwise would have comprised the most robust pool of prospective founders of high-growth companies, the financial-services industry’s steady rise has had a cannibalizing effect on entrepreneurship in the U.S. economy," said Paul Kedrosky, the study’s co-author and a Kauffman senior fellow.

At MIT, for example, nearly 25 percent of all graduates went to work in the financial sector in 2006, up from 18 percent in 2003.
File under: "Engineers blow things up."

Full report available at the Kauffman Foundation.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Institute begins weekly dispatch for Red Mass Group





Reports, commentaries and observations from The Beacon Hill Institute will now appear each Thursday on Red Mass Group. Our first entry announces last week's release of our study on charter schools.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Small steps toward progress

Lost the apocalyptic news cycle, a little progress little noticed. "U.S. life expectancy has hit another all-time high, rising to about 78 years and 2 months."

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Kotkin: "Why North Dakota Is Booming"

Joel Kotkin on North Dakota:
Oil also is the principal reason North Dakota enjoys arguably the best fiscal situation in all the states. With a severance tax on locally produced oil, there's a growing state surplus. Recent estimates put an extra $1 billion in the state's coffers this year, and that's based on a now-low price of $70 a barrel.

North Dakota, however, is no one-note Prairie sheikdom. The state enjoys prodigious coal supplies and has—yes—even moved heavily into wind-generated electricity, now ranking ninth in the country. Thanks to global demand, North Dakota's crop sales are strong, but they are no longer the dominant economic driver—agriculture employs only 7.2% of the state's work force.

Perhaps more surprising, North Dakota is also attracting high-tech. For years many of the state's talented graduates left home, but that brain drain is beginning to reverse. This has been critical to the success of many companies, such as Great Plains Software, which was founded in the 1980s and sold to Microsoft in 2001 for $1.1 billion. The firm has well over 1,000 employees.

The corridor between Grand Forks and Fargo along the Red River (the border between North Dakota and Minnesota) has grown rapidly in the past decade. It now boasts the headquarters of Microsoft Business Systems and firms such as PacketDigital, which makes microelectronics for portable electronic devices and systems. There are also biotech firms such as Aldevron, which manufactures proteins for biomedical research. Between 2002 and 2009, state employment in science, technology, engineering and math-related professions grew over 30%, according to EMSI, an economic modeling firm. This is five times the national average.

While the overall numbers are still small compared to those of bigger states, North Dakota now outperforms the nation in everything from the percentage of college graduates under the age of 45 to per-capita numbers of engineering and science graduates. Median household income in 2009 was $49,450, up from $42,235 in 2000. That 17% increase over the last decade was three times the rate of Massachusetts and more than 10 times that of California.
Here's a case of great minds thinking alike: Last year, North Dakota topped the BHI's Annual State Competitiveness Index with its strong showing in our Government and Fiscal Policy, Infrastructure and Environmental Policy measures.

The complete 2010 State Competitiveness Report is available here.

More than a quarter decline in MA construction since 2007

The Boston Business Journal reports:
The Bay State’s construction sector has shed 34,200 jobs on a seasonally adjusted basis since January 2007, with some of the commonwealth’s largest metropolitan areas having lost more than a quarter of their jobs in that span.

Nationally, 317 of the country’s 337 largest metros shed construction jobs since the downturn commenced, with some markets, particularly in the southwestern portion of the country, contracting by as much as 65 percent.

In Massachusetts, construction firms employed 92,500 people on a seasonally adjusted basis at the end of January, off 27 percent from the 126,700 workers in the sector four years earlier, according to The Associated General Contractors of America.

The Boston-Cambridge-Quincy region reported the state’s largest decline in total jobs lost, falling by 15,100 positions during the period studied. That brought the area’s total construction employment to 43,100 jobs at the end of January, off 26 percent over four years.

On a percentage basis, New Bedford and Peabody tied for the state’s largest decline, sliding 30 percent. New Bedford’s drop included 800 jobs, while Peabody’s affected 1,100 positions.
What will it take to get the industry moving again?

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