Editorial: Economic development by the numbers

Now, perhaps more than at any time in history, the job of creating a vibrant local economy is not for the faint of heart.

Retaining and attracting companies and the jobs they provide is increasingly difficult in the face of global competition. Even within Massachusetts, cities and towns compete more vigorously than ever to expand their tax base and employment opportunities for their residents.

The state’s Economic Development Incentive Program creates a partnership between the state, municipalities and businesses. The Economic Assistance Coordinating Council, which administers the EDIP, can offer a company State Investment Tax Credits. A municipality can offer local tax exemptions, the most common being Tax Increment Financing agreements.

Both of those provide “the financial tools and incentives necessary to stimulate development in tandem with other local support programs,” Chief Development Officer Michael E. Traynor wrote in a report on TIFs provided to City Council.

Inbox [May 24]: News and notes from WPI, Antiquarian Society, Hanover Theatre, EcoTarium, MassDevelopment, UMass Memorial, city of Worcester, Park Spirit

Have news you or your group would like to share? Let us know by emailing it to info@worcester.ma. Be sure to include a link to the full release on your site or Facebook page so we can include it and send Sun members your way.

WPI lands grant to boosts integration of Humanities and STEM

The National Endowment for the Humanities selected Worcester Polytechnic Institute, along with 17 other U.S. schools, for a Humanities Connections Grant.

WPI will receive a $100,000 grant to establish an Urban Humanities Teaching Cluster, allowing WPI to offer an integrated set of courses that push students to think about urban challenges as more than simply technical problems. With half the world’s population now living in cities and with the population of 21 cities now exceeding 10 million, the study of cities is more important than ever.

“The engineering challenges wrought by rapid urbanization and aging urban infrastructures are obvious to our students,” said Joseph Cullon, an assistant teaching professor of history and the grant’s principal investigator, “but solving them forces us to ask questions about history, aesthetics, equity, access and cultural meaning that are less transparent but equally crucial.”

Worcester Sun, May 24: TIFs add up to developing success in Worcester, ISIS attack raises local concerns + more

Plus, top Sun stories, Hitch on First Night, a new free-to-read, nursing homes in crisis and a jam-packed Inbox. This is your Wednesday, May 24, Worcester Sun.

Editorial: Farewell to First Night as we know it

Colorful, cold and bold. First Night Worcester changed a little every year, but it was always those. And for more than three decades, it was always there.

It’s too soon to say what, if anything, will replace it after its top official, Howard McGinn, said in a statement last week, “After careful review, we have decided the 35th [last year’s] would be our last event.”

But First Night Worcester Inc.’s decision to “discontinue operations” after 35 years is not necessarily a bad thing.

First Night was great in a lot of ways — and took a ton of talent and dedication to pull off every Dec. 31 — but the brand may have simply run its course. A New Year’s reorganization could be in order, and is apparently underway.

First things first — and foremost. We must thank First Night Worcester Inc. for a festive, safe and creative string of New Year’s Eve celebrations. That goes for all the nonprofit’s sponsors, partners and button-buyers, too.

Inbox [May 21]: News and notes on Worcester’s Out to Lunch Concert Series, Holy Cross, UMass Medical, WCLOC, Rachel’s Table and Youth Council

Have news you or your group would like to share? Let us know by emailing it to info@worcester.ma. Be sure to include a link to the full release on your site or Facebook page so we can include it and send Sun members your way.

Out to Lunch concert series lineup announced

The City of Worcester and the Worcester Cultural Coalition announced the eighth installment of the Out to Lunch Summer Concert Series on the Worcester Common Oval. It runs 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Thursdays, from June 22-Aug. 24.

“The Out to Lunch series is a true testament of how vibrant and culturally rich our city is,” City Manager Edward M. Augustus, Jr., said. “From diverse food to various musical genres, young or old, everyone can enjoy their lunch in a welcoming, family-friendly setting on the beautifully maintained Worcester Common.”

“By using the power of the arts and leveraging Worcester’s creative community, Out to Lunch works as a great example of what creative placemaking can do for our city,” said  Cultural Development Officer Erin Williams.

Editorial: City Council’s dog squabble deserves motherly rebuke

Don’t have children? Or are the children grown and gone?

Well, if you live in Worcester you can take heart this Mother’s Day anyway.

You’ve got the City Council.

Just kidding — mostly. But the word “childish” did get bandied about like a birthday balloon at last Tuesday’s City Council meeting.

And what, this time, caused the yapping and snarling that broke out in the chamber?

A dog, of course! A free, smart, useful, probably cute-as-a-button K-9 proposed for the police department.

Worcester Sun, May 14-20: Mariano on church closings, thoughts on Petty and Gaffney, growing up at City Hall + Mother’s Day

What if … Worcester sees a future with shorter pregnancies. Giselle Rivera-Flores takes a look back for Mother’s Day. And a whole lot more of the best commentary and storytelling in the city in your May 14-20 Worcester Sun.

Inbox [April 30]: News and notes from McGovern, Holy Cross, Venture Forum, Auburn Rotary, Anna Maria and city of Worcester

Have news you or your group would like to share? Let us know by emailing it to info@worcester.ma. Be sure to include a link to the full release on your site or Facebook page so we can include it and send Sun members your way.

McGovern taps Vaillancourt to select House roundtable

U.S. Rep. James McGovern has selected Luke Vaillancourt of Vaillancourt Folk Art in Sutton to represent the 2nd Mass. District at the upcoming U.S. House of Representatives Small Business Committee Roundtable Discussion on May 2.

Luke Vaillancourt

Luke Vaillancourt

About 30 small-business owners from around the country will share perspectives on ways government can help small businesses succeed. McGovern selected Vaillancourt because of his role in the family’s business and involvement with several regional business organizations.

“Small businesses are the heart and soul of our economy in Central Massachusetts and Vaillancourt Folk Art is a shining example,” McGovern said. “For more than 30 years, Luke Vaillancourt and his family have been a strong part of our community, running their business with pride.”

Editorial: Discussing a taxing problem

As the state and its municipalities begin to formulate their budgets for the next fiscal year, it’s worth considering the major components of government funding.

Income tax is the largest contributor, representing 23 percent of state revenue. The sales tax, which represents 10 percent of the budget, is third largest single source, behind federal reimbursements.

When it comes to cities and towns, property taxes represent the largest single portion of the city of Worcester spending plan, roughly 46 percent of the $611 million fiscal 2017 budget.

However, revenue from those three taxes — income, sales and property — has been affected, and continues to be affected, by the rise of the nonprofit sector of the economy.

Ora Szekely

Inbox [April 26]: News and notes from Clark, UMass Medical, Anna Maria, Worcester Community Action Council, Research Bureau and Bravehearts

Have news you or your group would like to share? Let us know by emailing it to info@worcester.ma. Be sure to include a link to the full release on your site or Facebook page so we can include it and send Sun members your way.

Clark prof’s latest book ‘Politics of Militant Group Survival in the Middle East’

The nature of international conflict has evolved in recent decades. Rather than conflict between state militaries, warfare increasingly takes place within regional conflict systems involving both states and non-state armed groups. Understanding the internal dynamics of these organizations is an important part of understanding the nature of international conflict, according to Ora Szekely, Clark University assistant professor of political science.

Szekely explores these dynamics within the context of the Arab-Israeli conflict in her latest book, “The Politics of Militant Group Survival in the Middle East: Resources, Relationships and Resistance.”

Szekely draws from field research conducted in Lebanon, Israel, the West Bank, Jordan, Syria and Egypt to compare the performances of four key non-state actors of the Arab-Israeli conflict ecosystem: The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), Hamas, Amal, and Hizbullah. Her research reveals how strategic domestic and foreign policy choices affect certain groups’ ability to “militarily resist and politically recover from confrontations with far more powerful adversaries.”