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Worcester’s economy grows in 2nd quarter
Following a slow start to the year, the Worcester Economic Index, a quarterly economic analysis compiled by Assumption College Professor of Economics Thomas White, Ph.D., has shown that the greater Worcester economy grew at a modest clip during the second quarter of 2017. Since March, the WEI is up 1.1 percent on an annualized basis.
The WEI is estimated using Bureau of Labor Statistics data on employment and unemployment in the Worcester metropolitan area. The unemployment rate slightly increased to 4.6 percent in June while household employment has gone up by 6,400. The BLS payroll survey also showed an increase of 4,200 jobs since June 2016.
“The data shows a labor market that is steady but without much growth, which is the reason the WEI grew at a modest 1.1 percent rate during the second quarter,” White said.
According to White and the WEI, recent performance of two local leading indicators — new business incorporations and initial unemployment claims for Massachusetts — are showing positive signals. The number of new business incorporations in the Worcester area rose in the second quarter of 2017 by nearly 16 percent compared to this time last year. Also, the number of initial unemployment claims filed during the second quarter in Massachusetts fell 6.7 percent from the second quarter of 2016.
“These are positive signs for the economy, as an increase in incorporations means new businesses may look to hire workers in the near future, while the drop in initial claims suggests established firms are retaining their personnel,” White said.
Over the coming six months, the WEI is expected to continue grow slowly.
Largest municipally owned solar farm in New England goes live
The largest municipally owned solar array in New England was officially connected to the power grid during a ceremony last Thursday at the former Greenwood Street landfill.
The Greenwood Street Solar Farm covers 25 acres with 28,600 solar panels. It is expected to produce enough energy to power 1,340 homes and is expected to save the city $60 million or more over its expected 30-year life.
“Worcester is proud to be at the forefront of the green energy movement,” City Manager Edward M. Augustus Jr. said. “With solar panels stretching as far as 19 football fields, this project is a highly visible example of work that has gone on under the radar for years to make Worcester a leader in renewable energy. From improvements to make our municipal buildings more energy efficient, to the conversion of every streetlight in the city to LED bulbs, and solar panels at nine different schools, Worcester is making huge strides in protecting our environment and our taxpayers’ money.”
The $27 million solar project is expected to pay for itself after six years.
“When Councilor (George) Russell and I proposed this in 2012, we had no idea it would be so successful. This project makes good environmental sense and good fiscal sense,” said Mayor Joseph M. Petty.
“The Greenwood Street solar array represents another important milestone for Worcester’s adoption of clean energy, allowing the city to reinvest their energy savings in the community,” Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito said.
Former U.S. drug control chief to speak in Worcester
The city of Worcester will host a community forum and Q&A with Michael Botticelli, the former director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, on the future of addiction recovery. The event will be held at 4 p.m. Tuesday in the Levi Lincoln Chamber, Third Floor, City Hall, 455 Main St.
Botticelli, one of the nation’s leading addiction experts, served as the Director of National Drug Control Policy at the White House under President Obama. He was previously Director of the Bureau of Substance Abuse Services at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.
The event is free and open to the public.
District 1 City Councilor candidate forum on Wednesday
Greater Worcester Our Revolution will host a Worcester District 1 City Councilor
candidate forum at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at Congregation Beth Israel, 15 Jamesbury Drive, Worcester.
The candidates are, in alphabetical order, William Coleman, Edward Moynihan, Sean Rose and Gerardo Schiano.
QCC to offer state’s first drone certificate program
Quinsigamond Community College is the first community college in Massachusetts to offer a drone certificate program.
“We are pleased to be able to offer individuals and companies a complete package of courses addressing the brand new tech careers drones are creating and the skills needed to work in these fields,” Dean of Center for Workforce Development and Continuing Education Kathleen Manning said.
These new tech careers are continuing to evolve and increase with no sign of decline. A report released in 2013 by the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International projected that by the year 2025 there will be more than 100,000 new jobs in unmanned aircraft.
QCC’s drone certificate program will feature a series of online and in-person courses designed to teach students everything they need to know about drones and help prepare them to take and pass the Federal Aviation Administration Drone Pilot Exam.
For additional information or to register for classes, visit www.QCC.edu/WD
You Inc. creating support group focused on aging
You Inc. is creating a group for adults 55 and older to explore and process the challenges and adversities of aging.
“Aging Together” topics may include but are not limited to: social isolation, depression, anxiety, loss of independence, physical health difficulties, and phase of life stressors.
The group will meet 11 a.m.-noon Wednesdays beginning Oct. 11 at 81 Plantation St.
For more information, contact Megan Vaillancourt at (508) 849-5600, ext. 335.