Leading economists say there is considerable uncertainty weighing heavily on the economic outlook for Massachusetts. But, for now, the state’s economy is doing comparatively well with signs of confidence in the future for small businesses. WAMC”s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief Paul Tuthill reports.
Ground was broken this week to begin construction of a new Marriott hotel in Chicopee Massachusetts. The project was permitted by local officials five years ago, but stalled when the Great Recession hit and financing dried up. But now developer Dennis Patel has secured the $15 million to build the hotel because he says demand for rooms in the region is rising.
The year long construction project will provide jobs for 12 hundred trades people, and 50 permanent jobs when it opens. The 115 room hotel, with three restaurants, an onsite bank and retail stores. It is designed to attract business and corporate travelers, and Patel projects high demand.
The recovery has been sluggish and has gone in fits and starts. Raymond Milano, the manager of the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Springfield Branch Office says capital is starting to flow.
Milano said the tornado that hit western Massachusetts last year put a damper on the recovery, but now he said weekly loan activity is back up to pre-recession levels. The local SBA office has approved 85 loans worth $5 million so far this year. Western Massachusetts accounts for 10 percent of the SBA loan activity in the state.
Frank Colaccino, president of Colvest Group, a developer of commercial real estate in Massachusetts and Connecticut says the last five years have been difficult.
Michael Goodman, an economist at UMass Dartmouth says small business growth in Massachusetts has been held back by slow gains in personal incomes and continued unemployment.
The Massachusetts economy has outpaced the nation’s as a whole for the last couple of years. But, Goodman, and other economists who comprise the editorial board of MassBenchmarks, a journal that tracks the state’s economy, warn of dark clouds on the horizon.
Patrick Administration officials are introducing a long term economic development plan at a series of meetings across the state with local government and business leaders.
The plan focuses on workforce development, nurturing the innovation economy, and empowering communities to develop their local economies. State Representative Joseph Wagner of Chicopee who chairs the Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies says local leaders had a say in developing the plan and now have a roll to implement it.
The plan , called Choosing to Compete in the 21St Cenutry, also focuses on ways to make it easier for businesses to operate and make Massachusetts more cost competitive.