Posts tagged with "Massachusetts"

In nine states nationwide, the wealthy are looking at a tax increase

September 28, 2020

Legislators in nine states—among them, New York, California, Massachusetts, and Maryland—have renewed their efforts to hike taxes on high earners. The states are facing multibillion-dollar revenue shortfalls, due to the costs of the coronavirus pandemic; as well as lost revenue from shuttered businesses.

Indeed, Democratic lawmakers are arguing that the wealthy—who have largely have escaped the economic hardships of the pandemic—should pay more of the costs and help those who have suffered most, reports CNBC.

However, Republicans and some Democratic governors say tax hikes at the state level will only cause the wealthy to move to lower-tax states, such as Florida and Texas.

After New Jersey passed its “millionaire’s tax” last September— under which state residents who earn more than $1million per year will face higher income taxes, while 800,000 lower-income families will get a tax rebate—legislators in other states renewed similar efforts with greater vigor.

Along with New York, lawmakers in California, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maryland, Wisconsin, Hawaii, Oklahoma, Vermont have proposed various forms of tax increases on high earners, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Those states account for more than one-third of the U.S. population, and nearly half of the nation’s millionaires, according to population data and wealth surveys.

Research contact: @CNBC

Staples reinvented: Office supplies, a podcasting studio, co-working space, and career coaching

February 3, 2020

The floor-to-ceiling aisles of Post-it Notes, pushpins, pencils, and printer paper? History. The endless rows of three-ring binders and back-to-school bargains? Gone.

Instead, there are light-filled co-working spaces with snack-stocked kitchens, digitally tricked-out meeting rooms, and podcasting studios, reports The Boston Globe of the new concept for the 30-year-old retain chain—now being tested in Massachusetts.

Meet the new Staples: It’s not just an office supply superstore anymore, it is, the company puts it, a “destination dedicated to continued curiosity, growth, and development.”

Staples built a leading national brand as the traditional stationery store on steroids when it first started out in 1986, the Globe says. But since then, the workplace—and how we shop for i —have undergone transformational changes. Cloud-based computing, telecommuting, and the ease of one-click ordering have diminished demand for big-box stores stocked with reams of paper, the new outlet notes.

 Now, in a dramatic effort to stay relevant, Staples is recasting itself as a place where you can co-work, record a podcast, stock up for your next Uber shift—or even get fingerprinted for a job.

“It’s not about product anymore. That’s something you can buy anywhere online,” Michael Motz, chief executive of the Staples U.S. Retail group told the Globe as he loped across one of the newly renovated Staples Connect stores in Needham, Massachusetts. “It’s about, how can we provide solutions for you? It’s the connection to your everyday life.”

But whether the full-scale makeover will be enough to steer the company into better financial health remains to be seen.

“It’s about us being more relevant and part of the community,” Motz said.

Staples used to devote just 10% of each store’s footprint to offering services like printing and shipping, said Brian Coupland, the company’s VP of Retail Merchandising. About half of the redesigned Needham store’s layout is dedicated to services now—with desks renting for $299 a month, and private offices for $599 a month (in downtown Boston co-working desks rent for $499 a month and offices go for $999 monthly).

Members and store customers can get free access to fancy AV-enabled meeting rooms that will also host seminars and workshops. And members can use podcast studios gratis (available to nonmembers for $60 an hour). Concierge services like legal, funding, or HR advice are available for small-business customers. And anyone can apply for a TSA PreCheck, a special state license, or a background check.

According to the Globe, even the store aisles “feel less cluttered and more playful than they once did; in the pen section, doodle pads invite customers to try a drawing challenge and a crafting section includes displays of paper cut into floral designs.”

 Coupland said outside consultants helped them to upend their traditional approach to office supplies, resulting in products like its new patented “squircle” highlighter markers (they have square edges so they won’t roll off desks). And kiosks offer gig-economy accoutrements: An Uber station offers charging cords, candies, and bottle water; Airbnb hosts can find Nest thermometers, smart locks, and Wifi hubs.

The store said it has more than 400 members across its various locations, but when a reporter toured the newly-designed downtown space earlier this week, the co-working site was empty.

However, Charles Smith—who has been co-working at the Staples’ Brighton location since 2016—told the Globe that he now rents a dedicated office in the space. The cannabis consultant also regularly works at the Needham store, and says he loves its flexibility: He can get downtown easily for meetings, parking is free, and he can get home to his three kids in Wellesley in minutes.

“Having a commute that’s half of what the average person commutes is a big advantage,” he said. He’s said he’s found mentors on site, and he regularly uses his discounts for printing and marketing tools, so he’s excited the company is expanding its offerings.

Research contact: @BostonGlobe

Actress Jenny Slate to deliver address to one-person graduating class on tiny Massachusetts island

June 5, 2019

The single graduating student on a tiny Massachusetts island—Cuttyhunk—is nonetheless receiving the star treatment, Ethan Genter of The Cape Cod Times reported on June 3.

Cuttyhunk Elementary School, a one-room schoolhouse on an island with a year-round population that hovers around a dozen, will have actress, comedian, and writer Jenny Slate address that lone student, Gwen Lynch, at this month’s graduation ceremony for the eighth-grader.

Slate—a native of Milton, Massachusetts—is familiar with the island, said Michael Astrue, poet, former commissioner of the Social Security Administration, and a Cuttyhunk summer resident, who has been charged with finding speakers for the last two years.

Finding a speaker for the event hasn’t been easy—even though Lynch could be described as the “Most Likely to Succeed,” the “Class Clown” and the Valedictorian of her one-person graduating class. However, Astrue knows Slate’s father, Ron—and reached out.

“I thought there was a shot that she might be between gigs and chilling out on Martha’s Vineyard,” he said.

Slate’s parents have put their family home in Milton on the market and plan to relocate to Martha’s Vineyard, a stone’s throw away from Cuttyhunk, according to a recent report from

Jenny Slate has been in touch with Gwen, according to Astrue, and she is blown away that the comedian is befriending her and taking the time to speak at her graduation. The pair met last weekend to get to know each other better.

Gwen also has been practicing her own speech for the big day,l The Cape Cod Times reports.

“She’s excited,” said Michelle Carvalho, the school’s only teacher.

Amazingly enough—since the island only has about a dozen residents—Slate has another Cuttyhunk connection. She is dating Ben Shattuck, who runs a writer’s residency on the island, as well as a music residency on nearby, 75-acre Penikese Island. Slate has posted about the residencies on social media and has said that she will be helping with them.

Astrue expects a full house at graduation, which is held at the church across from the school. “It will be a packed room and most of the town will be there,” he said.

When Gwen graduates—leaving the school without any students—Cuttyhunk Elementary plans to convert into a STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts, and Mathematics) academy for off-island visiting schools. The school has been running pilot programs for the academy this spring.

Carvalho is sad to see her last pupil go, but is looking forward to what the new academy plans bring.“It’s an ending but also a beginning, hopefully,” she told The Cape Cod Times.

Photo source: @EthanGenterCCT