Firms leaving behind the suburbs

Businesses are migrating from the suburbs to Boston and Cambridge at an accelerating pace, leaving behind white elephant office parks and putting more pressure on transit services in the urban core.

Phillips NV is the latest firm to make the leap, announcing plans to relocate its North American headquarters and nearly 2,000 jobs from Andover to Cambridge. Philips CEO Frans van Houten said the move is part of an effort to transform the company into an innovation business focused on health care.

“This is all about location and proximity to innovation,” he said. “We need to be in the hot spots of health care innovation, close to universities, where you can find the talent for the next generation of innovation.”

Phillips is hardly unique. Bose moved from Framingham to Boston Landing. Reebok relocated from Canton to the Seaport District, an area that also attracted PTC of Needham and LogMeIn of Woburn. Other companies making the move included Autodesk, Converse, and General Electric, which traded the suburbs of Connecticut for Boston.

WBUR took note of the trend in November, citing three reasons for the migration: “access to talent, public transportation, and a collaborative open-source culture.” Put another way, the companies are going where younger workers are headed in growing numbers.

“There’s a whole generation in the technology workforce [who are] in their 20s and early 30s, and they live in urban areas. Many of them don’t have cars, [they] walk to work, ride the subway to work,” said Ben Hicks, who leads the software technology division at the recruiting firm WinterWyman in Waltham. “And you put yourself at a big disadvantage if you’re in Framingham, as Bose is, or you’re in Burlington or Andover.”

A lot has been written about the exodus to downtowns, but less about what’s been left behind. Many suburbs and smaller communities across the country are struggling with the loss of long-time corporate residents. Andover Town Manager Andrew Flanagan said he immediately called Jay Ash, the state secretary of housing and economic development, as soon as the Phillips announcement was made.

“The state and the town are committed to working together to maintain the economic vibrancy of Andover and the region,” Flanagan told the Eagle-Tribune. “We will do all we can to work on maintaining the economic infrastructure that has long been in place in Andover.”




Senate allies see a potential path for Stan Rosenberg to return as Senate president. (Boston Globe) Rosenberg and his husband are separated. (State House News) Rosenberg said other senators have been told to avoid lots of contact with him during the course of the current ethics investigation, but senators said that was news to them. (Boston Herald)

Gov. Charlie Baker says he won’t take up an option being offered by the Trump administration for states to impose work requirements on Medicaid recipients. (Boston Globe)

The state’s clean energy procurement is not following the regular playbook, as bidders mount “outside” campaigns in a bid to influence the outcome. (CommonWealth)

State tax breaks for the film industry totaled $100 million last year. (Boston Business Journal password protected)


Worcester’s comeback seems for real this time. (CommonWealth)

Marty Walsh puts people who make threats over parking spaces they’ve saved on double secret probation, saying he’ll ban all space-savers if they don’t clean up their act before he quickly tweets that he doesn’t actually plan to end the practice. (Boston Globe)

Brewster, one of the few Cape Cod towns that hasn’t enacted a ban or moratorium on legal pot, is rushing to pass regulations for the siting and operations of recreational retail, grow, and manufacturing facilities. (Cape Cod Times)

A year after being put off, Fall River officials received approval to issue bonds using the state’s lower bond rating, potentially saving the city hundreds of thousands of dollars in interest payments and attracting a larger pool of buyers. (Herald News)


President Trump, in an Oval Office meeting yesterday with congressional leaders, questioned why the US is having “all these people from shithole countries come here,” a reference to immigrants from Haiti, El Salvador, and African nations. This morning, Trump appeared to deny the “shithole” remark. (Washington Post) With his White House comments, says Herald columnist Kimberly Atkins, Trump stayed true to one consistent belief that predates by decades his arrival in office: “little love for nonwhite immigrants or people of color already living on US shores.”

At an Oval Office signing of a fentanyl trafficking bill, US Rep. Niki Tsongas urged President Trump to focus on the opioid crisis and leave marijuana for another time. (Lowell Sun)


Boston City Councilor Ayanna Pressley met earlier this week with former governor Deval Patrick to discuss a possible Democratic primary challenge to US Rep. Michael Capuano. (Boston Globe)

A three-judge federal panel has ruled North Carolina’s congressional map is unconstitutional, drawn solely for political reasons to keep Republicans in control, and ordered state lawmakers to create a new map within 14 days or have a special master draw one. (U.S. News & World Report)


Salem is preparing to seek state approval to impose a 6 percent tax on short-term (Airbnb) rentals. (Salem News)

Walmart, the country’s largest private employer, announced it would redirect some of its savings from the new tax cut to increase wage and benefits for its minimum wage workers, an action embraced by Republicans that shows the plan works. But within hours the retail giant said it was closing 63 of its Sam’s Club stores, putting thousands of workers out of a job. (New York Times) Worcester is home to one of the Sam’s Club stores. (MassLive) National Grid said it will seek a lower rate hike because of the tax law. (State House News)

In addition to reducing its menu, Dunkin’ Donuts is cutting back on its workforce, announcing a 6.6 percent reduction worldwide, including 40 workers at its corporate office in Canton. (Patriot Ledger)

DraftKings, on the other hand, is hiring. (Boston Globe)


The Bridgewater-Raynham school district is eliminating the “pay to ride” bus program for students who live within 1.5 miles of their school, forcing the parents to find another mode of transportation. (The Enterprise)

Boston school superintendent Tommy Chang makes another run at changing grade configurations by eliminating middle schools in the district. (Boston Globe)


Brown University is teaming up with a California for-profit health care firm to try to acquire Providence-based Care New England Health System, a moved aimed at blocking Boston-based Partners HealthCare System from buying the Rhode Island network. (Boston Globe)

John McDonough offers up part 2 of his silver linings view of the tax cut law. (CommonWealth)


A Lowell Sun editorial calls commuter rail the T’s weakest link. Gov. Charlie Baker says of Keolis, the commuter rail operator, “They need to up their game.” (Boston Herald)


Pilgrim nuclear power plant is back online after a six-day shutdown following last week’s storm but not before officials were forced to replace a leaky safety valve discovered during the shutdown. (Cape Cod Times)

Nancy Clark of Mothers Out Front says more natural gas coming into New England is not the answer to climate change. (CommonWealth)

NOAA announced longtime policy insider Michael Petony will replace John Bullard as the Northeast Regional Administrator overseeing fisheries management. (Standard-Times)


A Globe editorial rips Boston Mayor Marty Walsh for his foot-dragging on police body cameras and urges him to move ahead with their full deployment across the department.

Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan is catching up with other DAs in the state by instructing her office’s prosecutors not to seek to hold defendants on bail for minor, non-violent charges. (Boston Globe)

Worcester County Sheriff Lewis Evangelidis prevails in whistleblower suit. (Telegram & Gazette)


Boston Herald publisher Pat Purcell defends his hefty pay to Globe columnist Kevin Cullen, but doesn’t win him over. “Workers at the Herald are getting screwed,” Cullen concludes. “It’s not fair. And that the guy at the top is leaving with millions while ordinary workers are left swinging in the wind is merely a sad, depressing, and absolutely accurate metaphor for America in 2018, when CEOs earn hundreds and hundreds of times more than the people who give their blood, sweat, and tears for a company.”

Trump’s “shithole” remark triggered an uncomfortable  problem for media outlets, with some using the vulgarity in the headline, many running it in the story, while others used asterisks, dashes, and “bleeps” rather than spelling it out or saying it. (New York Times)

MinnPost, a nonprofit news site, offers excess ad inventory to fellow nonprofits at sharply reduced rates. (Lenfest Institute)