Wednesday, November 25, 2020

The need for food is at a crisis level

 The Globe did a piece on the amount of food being distributed in Mass. It is disturbing to read the amount of food needed to help people during this pandemic and massive unemployment. I ask my readers to chip in with a donation to a charity you believe in. We have a few in the Ham, Salvation Army, Daniel's Table, Tri County United Way and of coarse there's the Great Boston Food Bank.  Every little bit helps them buy food. When Biden takes office I hope he will direct money to food banks across the country. 

By David Abel Globe Staff

“It’s just a terrible time for a lot of people,” said Catherine D’Amato, president of the Greater Boston Food Bank, the largest hunger-relief organization in New England, which provides food to 190 towns and cities in Eastern Massachusetts. “We’re obviously in a crisis.”

Before the pandemic, the food bank distributed about 1 million pounds of food a week to some 415,000 people. Now, the organization distributes about 2.5 million pounds a week to more than 660,000 people, and that number has been rising steadily.

As many as one in seven people in the state are considered food insecure — about 1 million residents — up from one in 13 people before the pandemic, D’Amato said. Overall, the food-insecurity rate in Massachusetts has increased by 59 percent since March, more than any other state, according to Feeding America, the nation’s largest hunger-relief organization.

Saturday, November 21, 2020

68m in grants go to 35 cities and Towns ... but not Framingham

 In yesterday's Globe, reporter Travis Anderson writes about Governor Baker's Mass-Works program. The works grant program supports building projects, road repairs and other initiatives. When I first read the piece and saw that Framingham was not on the list, I wrote to Maria Robinson and asked if we had applied and with-in minutes she wrote back the we had not. So I called the EDIC office and left a message, then I wrote to the Mayor and asked why we didn't at least apply for a chance at a few dollars.  Lastly, I wrote to Cannon and he responded that the lack of action was disturbing. And what about our council women who has LT Governor Polito on speed dial? The Globe piece is much more detailed, but has a paywall. I used the MMA url for everyone to read.

Gov. Charlie Baker, Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, and Housing and Economic Development Secretary Mike Kennealy joined members of the Legislature and local officials today to announce the 2020 Round of the MassWorks Infrastructure Grant Program.

This year’s awards will invest nearly $68 million in 36 projects to support housing, economic development and road safety projects in 35 cities and towns across the Commonwealth. The awards, announced during a virtual ceremony, are part of the administration’s Partnerships for Recovery initiative.

“MassWorks provides essential funding to cities and towns for infrastructure projects that spur housing production, create jobs and attract private investment, which are particularly important during our economic recovery,” said Gov. Baker. “We are grateful for our partnerships, both with the Legislature and with local officials, that make these investments possible, and we look forward to continued collaboration to support Massachusetts’ economy.”

Lt. Gov. Polito said MassWorks “plays a critical role in filling in the needed funding gaps that would otherwise keep these key projects from moving forward and inhibit substantial private investments in the main streets and downtowns of municipalities across the Commonwealth.” She added that the flexible funding empowers communities “to move ahead with projects that will have an immediate and lasting impact on their commercial districts, housing stock and residents.”

In total, the 2020 MassWorks awards will help create more than 3,500 new housing units, including more than 1,000 affordable units; result in more than 3,900 new jobs, support more than 7,000 construction jobs, and leverage more than $1.6 billion in private investment, according to the administration.

Among this year’s projects, 23 are reactivating underused sites, 20 are transit-oriented developments, 14 have a mixed-use component; nine are in Gateway Cities, and eight are roadway projects in small and rural communities. Additionally, eight towns are receiving their first-ever MassWorks award. The transformative projects funded by the 2020 awards were selected through a competitive process that received 100 applications, totaling nearly $208 million in requests.

The cities and towns include Acton, Amherst, Avon, Ayer, Beverly, Boston, Brockton, Buckland, Burlington, Chelsea, Dracut, Erving, Hanover, Harvard, Haverhill, Lawrence, Leominster, Lynn, Methuen, Nantucket, Northfield, Warwick, Orange, Phillipston, Pittsfield, Plainfield, Sheffield, South Hadley, Stoughton, Ware, Wayland, Wellfleet, West Brookfield, Westborough, Wilmington, and Worcester.


Monday, November 16, 2020

cannabis sales hit 1BILLION dollars in MA

 Those of you who followed my work in changing the laws regarding marijuana will probably remember me writing about the amount of money retail sales would bring in. In today's MWDN a honest look at what has come in so far... and it's amazing. A few towns have reaped huge financial benefits at a time when local receipts have dramatically dropped from the bottom line. Here in the Ham, talk from the council chair has mentioned the revenue from marijuana sales to off-set the CPA tax increase that will be in tax year 2021 going forward but the Mayor may have different thoughts. It's worth noting that the chief of staff for the City Manager Jacob Sanders was quoted as saying “It’s helpful to have, but it starts from the will of the voters and what they wanted in Massachusetts and they voted for cannabis which had the added benefits of additional revenue for the city.”

“We’ve been very fortunate that we’ve had Caroline’s Cannabis operating in the town of Uxbridge. Caroline’s been a great neighbor and business partner,” Uxbridge Town Manager Steven Sette said of the town’s first retail marijuana store. 

Sette reported the town has received roughly $400,000 from marijuana businesses — there are now three operating in town — in a year, and that the town lifted the cap on manufacturing and cultivation businesses to be more accommodating to the industry.

“From the beginning, Uxbridge has welcomed cannabis businesses to the town,” Sette said. “We have worked with them through the licensing process, and we have locations for people to operate and build out their facilities.”

It was a similar story in Leicester, home of one of the first two retail marijuana stores on the East Coast.

“It has created positive cash flow for the town,” David Genereux, town administrator in Leicester, said. 

Leicester has received a total of $885,048 in local option sales tax from marijuana so far, Genereux reported.

And in Worcester, Jacob Sanders, chief of staff for City Manager Edward M. Augustus Jr., said the $3 million in revenue the city has so far received from legal cannabis was particularly helpful this year. 

“Revenue’s always helpful, especially in a time like COVID,” Sanders said.  “It’s helpful to have, but it starts from the will of the voters and what they wanted in Massachusetts and they voted for cannabis which had the added benefits of additional revenue for the city.”

Two adult-use marijuana dispensaries opened on Nov. 20, 2018 — Cultivate in Leicester and NETA in Northampton — becoming the first legal marijuana retail stores on the East Coast.

In the first year of sales (November 2018-19), 33 marijuana retailers generated $393.7 million in gross sales and ultimately rang up $444.9 million for the full 2019 calendar year, according to the CCC. 

Since Jan. 1, dispensaries have already surpassed the previous year’s revenue, even with two months of closure due to COVID-19, generating $539 million in gross sales, the commission added.