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

BAKER PREPPING MEASURES AS RIVAL STATES EYE TECH JOBS

By Matt Murphy

NEWTON, MASS., FEB. 25, 2015…..Gov. Charlie Baker warned the state’s high-tech executives on Wednesday that their edge in the national economy is under attack from other states, hinting that he will put forward ideas soon to help ensure a strong supply of workforce talent to keep their businesses growing.

Baker returned to Massachusetts this week after spending the weekend in Washington D.C. at the National Governors Association winter meeting where he dined at the White House on Sunday night at a table with President Barack Obama, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper and Indiana Gov. Mike Pence.

“Colorado is coming on and coming on strong,” Baker told a banquet hall full of executives at the annual meeting of the Massachusetts High Technology Council at the Newton Marriott. “I saw Governor Hickenlooper from Colorado when I was at the NGA meeting and he couldn’t help but make this point to me many, many times over the course of several days. I need a really good rejoinder on that one, folks.” Continue reading

WPI data tool to measure Mass. tech strength

By Emily Micucci

Worcester Polytechnic Institute announced the development of a new system to help evaluate Massachusetts’ competitive position among leading technology states.

Known as Massachusetts’ Technology, Talents and Economic Reporting Systems (MATTERS), the system was developed by WPI students and faculty in collaboration with the Massachusetts High Technology Council, an advocacy group. It provides corporations with critical information regarding expansion, as well as essential data for developing public policy that attracts and retains business.

“This reporting dashboard makes important data accessible to those who need it. It also demonstrates the impact that our faculty and students can have on the state’s competitiveness, especially in the technology sector,” Stephen Flavin, vice president of academic and corporate development at WPI, and a member of the Massachusetts High Tech Council, said in a statement Wednesday.

MATTERS allows users to compare technology strengths between states. For example, they can look at how Massachusetts and New York stack up on talent, cost and economy metics, as well as national rankings on tax climate and technology indexes. The tool can be accessed online here.

Business Leaders patient as snow, red ink occupy Baker

Baker-Polito Administration Announces Plan to Close Fiscal Year 2015 Budget Gap

Solution protects local aid, avoids tax hikes and any draw from the Stabilization Fund

By Governor of Massachusetts – Press Office

BOSTON – Governor Charlie Baker and Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito today announced a series of proposals to close the Fiscal Year 15 (FY 15) budget gap recently identified by the Administration. The fixes include a combination of the Governor’s 9C authority to adjust Executive Branch spending, as well as legislation for additional spending reductions, non-tax revenue adjustments, and other one-time fixes.

As originally promised, the plan announced today does not raise taxes, cut local aid, or draw down on the state’s Stabilization Fund. The total budget imbalance addressed for FY 15 was adjusted slightly, from $765 million to $768 million due to updated tax data and other factors such as last week’s winter storm. After today’s proposal, spending for FY 15 is still a 7.7% increase over FY 14. Continue reading

Massachusetts High School Graduation Rate Improves

By The Associated Press

Massachusetts education officials say the state’s high school graduation rate is up to 86.1 percent, with some of the strongest gains among minority and low-income students.

On Tuesday, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education announced that the four-year graduation rate for students who entered as ninth-graders in 2010-11, or who transferred in, improved for the eighth consecutive year.

In addition, the state’s annual dropout rate declined to 2 percent in the 2013-14 year, the sixth consecutive year below 3 percent and the lowest rate in more than three decades.

The biggest gains were made by black males, whose graduation rate improved by 3.1 percentage points over the previous year; Hispanic students showed a 2.4 percent improvement; and students from low-income families improved by 2.5 points.

Battle over banning noncompete agreements brews on Beacon Hill

By Jon Chesto
Boston Globe

State lawmakers are reviving efforts to limit or ban contracts that restrict employees from working for competitors after a compromise failed last summer.

Noncompete agreements represent one of the most divisive issues in the technology sector, pitting entrepreneurs and venture capitalists who argue noncompetes stifle innovation against established companies, such as EMC Corp. of Hopkinton, which say the contracts protect intellectual property. Noncompetes often prohibit people from working for competing firms for a year or more after departing their previous employer.

Legislators last week filed at least six bills seeking to limit the use of such agreements. They include bills by Representative Lori Ehrlich, a Marblehead Democrat, and Senator Will Brownsberger, a Belmont Democrat, that would essentially ban noncompetes in the state. (Company owners who sell their businesses could still be bound by noncompetes after the sale.)The New England Venture Capital Association, a trade group in Cambridge, plans to unveil a coalition encompassing different industries next month to push the Legislature to outlaw noncompete agreements in most instances. The goal is to make the rules here similar to those in California, one of three states in which noncompetes are essentially illegal and Massachusetts’ biggest competitor in the innovation economy.  Continue reading

MITRE Deepens its Commitment to Veterans

By Betsy Yates, Media & Community Relations Lead
The MITRE Corporation

Bedford, Mass., January 20, 2015 – MITRE recently participated in the Massachusetts High Technology Council’s (MHTC) annual meeting, which included the launch of the New England Tech Vets initiative and NewEnglandTechVets.org—a new program that connects military service members and veterans with jobs in New England and across the United States.

MITRE continues to support a related program, the NVTC Veterans Employment Initiative, run by the Northern Virginia Technology Council (NVTC), or NovaTechVets.org, which launched in 2013. Both programs operate a website powered by Monster.com in conjunction with Military.com. And each initiative has the same goals—to support veteran hiring and retention by providing tools and resources to match them with jobs, internships, mentorships and certifications, helping them translate their skills to a civilian workforce, and providing them with access to thousands of job opportunities. Continue reading

Spouses hold out hope for new work visa rules

Obama’s action could aid those languishing

By Jessica Meyers
Boston Globe

WASHINGTON — Geetha Thangasamy battles the loneliness with television. She scours the Internet to keep her skills as a software engineer fresh. And now, after 6½ years, her patience may pay off.

The Norwood woman is among thousands of foreign-born residents who cannot work in the United States because their partners were brought here on a special visa for highly skilled workers. Family members receive different visas that do not allow them to hold jobs.

Many spouses spend up to a decade in English classes and place their own careers on hold as the family inches through a backlogged process to become permanent residents.

All that appears ready to change. President Obama’s recent executive action on immigration supported a pending rule that allows some of these spouses a chance to work. Continue reading