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Comcast to extend low-cost broadband to low-income college students

Broadband provider Comcast will now offer its low-cost broadband service to college students receiving federal Pell Grants. It’s the latest expansion of Comcast’s Internet Essentials program for low-income households. The service provides broadband with 50 megabit download speed for $9.95 a month. Comcast said that 10 million people have used the service since its launch a decade ago. Comcast is also donating $15 million in Internet service and computer gear to low-income families, including 25,000 free laptops. The company has already given 500 new laptops to Boston nonprofit Tech Goes Home, which provides digital literacy training to families and provides participants with free laptops. Comcast has committed to provide $1 billion in aid over the next ten years to deliver computer and Internet services to 50 million low-income people in the United States. — HIAWATHA BRAY



Burlington company hires former CEO of MCEC

Burlington-based power plant owner FirstLight Power has hired Stephen Pike, who just left the CEO’s job at the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, to be the company’s new general counsel. It will be a reunion for Pike and FirstLight chief executive Alicia Barton. She had hired him to be general counsel for the MassCEC in 2013 when she ran the quasi-public agency, bringing him to the agency from Davis Malm & D’Agostine where he practiced corporate law. He became acting chief executive at MassCEC when Barton left in 2015, and then he later took the CEO role on a more formal basis. In his new job, Pike is taking over for Marc Silver, who is retiring, and he will report directly to Barton. FirstLight’s primary focus is on hydroelectric facilities but it has been expanding its efforts in solar power and electricity storage plants as well. The company employs about 130 people. “We are positioning ourselves for growth ahead,” Barton said. “Steve’s background in corporate law and clean energy leadership is really ideal for the path we hope to chart looking forward.” — JON CHESTO



Google to buy Manhattan office building for $2.1 billion

Google on Tuesday announced it would spend $2.1 billion to buy a sprawling Manhattan office building on the Hudson River waterfront, paying one of the largest purchase prices in recent years for an office building in the United States and providing a jolt of optimism to a New York City real estate industry lashed by the pandemic and the shift to remote work. The transaction comes during a precarious period for the city’s office market, the largest in the country, as the swift embrace of hybrid work and the shedding of office space have presented the most serious threat to the industry in decades. While Manhattan has a glut of office space available for lease, setting record highs during the pandemic, the four firms that make up so-called Big Tech — Amazon, Apple, Google, and Facebook — have staked a bullish position on the future of New York. — NEW YORK TIMES


McDonald’s plans to reduce plastic in toys by 2025

McDonald’s plans to “drastically” reduce the plastic in its Happy Meal toys worldwide by 2025. The burger giant said Tuesday it’s working with toy companies to develop new ideas, such as three-dimensional cardboard superheroes kids can build or board games with plant-based or recycled game pieces. McDonald’s said it’s also exploring using recycled plastic toys to make new restaurant trays. McDonald’s won’t say how many Happy Meals it sells each year. But it said the new goal will reduce virgin plastic use by 90 percent compared to 2018 levels.



Home rents soared in July

Rent for single-family homes in the United States surged 8.5 percent in July, the biggest increase since 2005. The Phoenix metropolitan area led US cities with an 18.9 percent year-over-year gain, according to a report Tuesday by CoreLogic Inc. Miami (17 percent) and Las Vegas (14.3 percent) also saw big jumps. Single-family rents have climbed amid a lack of affordable properties to buy. With little inventory available for first-time buyers, Americans looking for backyards and extra rooms have been pushed into the rental market. — BLOOMBERG NEWS


A third of US small businesses have scaled back reopenings

One-third of US small businesses scaled back fully reopening their operations amid the growing health concerns of the Delta variant, a new report shows. About 63 percent of small businesses were fully open as of August, down from 85 percent in May, according to a survey of 550 small companies from Kabbage, a data company owned by American Express. The findings add to other findings from Alignable showing businesses pushed out their expectations for a recovery by one quarter. — BLOOMBERG NEWS


AstraZeneca to build new plant in Ireland

AstraZeneca will invest $360 million building a new manufacturing facility for small molecules in Dublin, dashing UK hopes that the drugmaker would develop the site at home. The plant will ensure that Astra’s global supply network can meet the needs of its pipeline of new medicines, the company said in a statement on Tuesday. — BLOOMBERG NEWS


Maersk profit to be biggest ever for a Danish company

A.P. Moller-Maersk is now heading for a full-year profit that will match its combined results from the past nine years and make business history in its home country Denmark. A combination of several extreme factors — including bottlenecks caused by pandemic consumption — are boosting earnings at the world’s largest shipping line. The company last week raised financial guidance for the third time in five months. Net income will reach about $16.2 billion in 2021, according to the average estimate of seven analysts surveyed by Bloomberg after the Sept. 16 profit upgrade. — BLOOMBERG NEWS



Shell shareholders get a surprise windfall

Royal Dutch Shell shareholders will get an unexpected $7 billion payout after the company promised to give them three quarters of the proceeds from the sale of Permian shale oil fields to ConocoPhillips. The cash pledge comes less than two months after Shell raised its dividend by almost 40 percent and started $2 billion of share buybacks. — BLOOMBERG NEWS


AutoNation hires former Stellantis NV executive as CEO

AutoNation appointed a top executive at Stellantis NV as its new chief executive, an unexpected move that puts the former head of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles in charge of the biggest chain of car dealers in the United States. Mike Manley, who has served as head of the Americas since Stellantis was created earlier this year when PSA Group merged with Fiat Chrysler, will succeed the retail chain’s longtime CEO Mike Jackson, the company said in a statement Tuesday. — BLOOMBERG NEWS


Walmart to highlight healthy and sustainable products

Walmart will spotlight particularly healthy or sustainable products with a new ”Built for Better” tag on its website, an attempt to entice shoppers who want to vote for better nutrition and environmental stewardship with their wallets. The initiative will start with almost 2,000 items, the world’s biggest retailer said Tuesday, and the number is set to grow. The goods will be grouped into two areas, those considered better for the customer’s health and those deemed good for the planet. — BLOOMBERG NEWS