Olympic Bid 2.0 is a winning plan for the city

Opinion by Steve Pagliuca
Chairman of the Boston 2024 Partnership

Over the last 25 years, the experiences of helping leaders build their companies and, more recently, being part of the Boston Celtics organization, have taught me an important lesson: Risks deserve careful analysis and cautious management — but the riskiest move of all can be watching an opportunity slip away.

This lesson recently motivated me to help lead the team at Boston 2024 to develop a thorough, fact-based analysis of the risks and opportunities of Boston potentially hosting the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2024. In the process, it has become clear to me that the Games present a transformative, once-in-a-lifetime economic development opportunity for New England.

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Tech workers turn out on Beacon Hill to decry noncompetes

By Callum Borchers

Dan Shore and the executive team at Cambridge startup Onshape Inc. used to require new hires to sign noncompete agreements. But the makers of three-dimensional design software dropped the restriction last month, according to Shore, after realizing that similar policies at other companies were making it harder to find available talent.

“We felt the effects of wanting to employ people that were subject to noncompetes and couldn’t employ them,” Shore told lawmakers Tuesday during a hearing at the State House. “We thought it was hypocritical because we asked our own employees to sign something that shows a fundamental level of mistrust.”

Testimonies like Shore’s dominated a two-hour session devoted to five bills that together would effectively end Massachusetts employers’ ability to impose noncompete restrictions on their workers in most cases. The covenants, common in technology but also found in other fields, require employees leaving their jobs to wait a finite period — sometimes a year or longer — before joining or launching other firms that compete with their previous companies.

A dozen entrepreneurs, technology workers and venture capitalists paraded before the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Labor and Workforce Development to support the bills, arguing that noncompetes hurt the state economy by hampering people who want to advance their careers or start new ventures.

Even the lone opposing voice — Mark Gallagher, executive vice president of the Massachusetts High Technology Council — called for new rules limiting the length of noncompete agreements and mandating that employers notify job candidates if they will be expected to sign them.

“We oppose any statutory ban on noncompetes. We think that goes too far,” said Gallagher, whose group represents 160 companies, including iRobot Corp. and IdeaPoint Inc. “But we do believe that additional restrictions do make sense, and we’re committed to working on those issues.”
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Mixed reaction in Mass. to Pacific trade bill

By Megan Woolhouse

“The Massachusetts High Technology Council, which represents some of the state’s biggest technology companies, called TPP “a huge opportunity not to be missed.”

“These are huge markets for many of our local tech companies,” said spokesman Mark Gallagher.”

The fate of a sweeping trade agreement — a deal with significant implications for Massachusetts’ leading industries — is up in the air while an unlikely alliance between President Obama and Republican leaders seeks to push ahead against resistance from an equally unlikely coalition of liberals and Tea Party conservatives.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership, known as TPP, would eliminate tariffs and enact rules to open markets betweem the United States and 11 other Pacific Rim nations, including Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, and Vietnam.  Last week, the House narrowly passed legislation that would allow negotiations to move forward; the measure now heads back to the Senate, where another tight vote is expected.

Supporters of the agreement, including Obama, House Speaker John Boehner, Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, and much of big business, say it’s critical to expanding US exports and countering the ambitions of China, which is not a party to the negotiations.

Opponents, including the 11 Democrats in Massachusetts’ congressional delegation, view the deal as another blow to US workers that would send more American jobs overseas and depress wages. Continue reading

Democrats rebuff Obama on trade plans

Resounding loss in House fueled by fears for workers

By Tracy Jan

WASHINGTON — House Democrats, including the entire Massachusetts delegation, sidelined President Obama’s trade agenda Friday, a stark repudiation of the president just hours after he made a rare trip to Capitol Hill to plead for support.

The vote reflected deep fears among Democrats about the economic impact of foreign trade deals on middle-class workers and demonstrated the potency of labor unions who lobbied aggressively against the legislation. The bill would lay the groundwork for a sweeping trade pact among Pacific Rim nations. Continue reading

MBTA reform proposal divides business community

By Dan Adams

An MBTA employee worked on a Blue Line car this winter, when the transit agency experienced a service meltdown.
Governor Charlie Baker’s proposal to overhaul the beleaguered MBTA has proved divisive, and not just among politicians and transportation advocates. Business and industry groups are also lining up on opposite sides of the bill, in some cases pitting past allies against each other.

At a contentious legislative hearing this week, a coalition of about 25 prominent business groups testified in support of Baker’s measure, demanding “aggressive steps” to fix the public transit system. The coalition, spearheaded by the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce , says it represents the majority of Massachusetts companies and includes such heavyweights as the Massachusetts High Technology Council .

But another coalition of business groups, led by A Better City, testified against Baker’s bill, saying it slashes needed funding and adds red tape. Some of its members stood side-by-side with the chamber as recently as last fall, when they campaigned against a ballot initiative that ended the link between increases in the gasoline tax and the consumer price index. Continue reading

Trade bill puts Warren at odds with state’s tech sector

By Jessica Meyers

WASHINGTON — The Capitol loomed behind Senator Elizabeth Warren last week as she raised her fist to a crowd of union workers and promised to fight against one of the world’s most expansive trade deals.

The cheers by labor and environmental groups in Washington were met with silence by companies back in Massachusetts, where the state’s thriving life science and tech sectors consider the trade pact critical to the region’s economic prosperity.

This disconnect pits Warren and some in the Democratic delegation against the state’s key business groups as lawmakers consider legislation that would propel the deal forward.

“This [trade pact] is a huge opportunity not to be missed,” said Christopher Anderson, president of the Massachusetts High Technology Council. Continue reading

EMC to face critics who worry it’s stagnating

By Jay Fitzgerald

EMC Corp., the largest technology company in Massachusetts, thinks Wall Street doesn’t understand it.

So on Tuesday, the Hopkinton company — known best for its data-storage business, it employs 68,000 people worldwide and reaps $24 billion in annual revenue — will hold a strategy summit in New York City. EMC hopes to convince analysts, investors, and others it really is on the right track.

Most of its top executives, including longtime chief executive Joseph Tucci, will be present to share information, review strategic options, answer questions, and listen to ideas and criticisms.

But chances are the summit won’t change many minds. Increasingly, critics say EMC has become a stagnant goliath that isn’t doing enough to pump up its share value and articulate a long-term vision for the 36-year-old company. Continue reading

Baker considers merger of tech, biotech, energy agencies

By Robert Weisman and Priyanka Dayal McCluskey

The Baker administration is considering a plan to merge the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center with quasi-public agencies that support the clean energy and high-tech industries.

Jay Ash, the state’s new housing and economic development secretary, said state officials have been talking to business groups about possibly consolidating the agencies.

“It’s being discussed,” Ash said. “We’re looking at ways to better coordinate our services. Everything’s on the table for economic development. But there’s no proposal.” Continue reading

High-tech council creates data dashboard to keep state on right road

By Jordan Graham

A top tech industry group unveiled a new tool to compare Massachusetts to other states yesterday as Gov. Charlie Baker said the state needs to solidify its position as a high tech leader by working harder to be more competitive and lowering the cost to do business.

“The goal here is to strengthen the areas we have a national lead in, and rectify or improve the areas we can now see a disadvantage,” said Chris Anderson, president of the Massachusetts High Technology Council. “This is actually going to be very helpful for not only keeping track of what our peer states are doing, but informing our decisions.” Continue reading

New online data analytics tool will show how Mass. ranks in talent, competitiveness

By Sara Castellanos

A new online data analytics tool being unveiled this week by the Massachusetts High Technology Council will show how the state measures up against other states in key areas including talent and business competitiveness.

The project, called Massachusetts Technology, Talent and Economic Reporting System (MATTERS), has been in the works for about a year, according to Mark Gallagher, executive vice president of Mass. High Tech Council’s Public Policy and Communications division.

The MATTERS tool will have its own website and will contain more than 30 different metrics including tax policy, cost, talent supply and demand, from various databases, indices and sources.

“The purpose here is to make this data actionable and to use the data to identify where Massachusetts is performing well or not performing well,” Gallagher said in an interview. Continue reading