"The Color of Wealth in Boston," a new report by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, could be accurately summed up in one word: white. By nearly every measure, white households in Greater Boston had more wealth than African-Americans, Caribbean blacks, Cape Verdeans, Puerto Ricans, and Dominicans, painting a worrisome picture of a region with "staggeringly divergent" levels of wealth by race. The report found that the median white household in Greater Boston has $256,500 in net assets, such as retirement savings, stock, or a checking account, while none of the minority group households studied had net assets over $18,000. Nearly half of all Puerto Ricans do not have bank accounts, and a quarter of blacks do not, according to the study. About 93 percent of whites have a savings or checking account or both.
2. Organizers scramble to line up event sites
With its sights on bolstering local support for the Olympic Games, the Boston 2024 organizing committee said Tuesday it will cement the locations of key venues before Massachusetts voters go to the polls in November 2016. But the Games organizers have made little progress on securing the privately owned properties targeted for the Olympic stadium and athletes' village. The tallest task could be negotiating the purchase of 20 acres at Widett Circle off Interstate 93 that is owned by the New Boston Food Market, a cooperative of two dozen meat and seafood wholesalers. Boston 2024 has targeted the industrial site for the Olympic stadium.
3. Tax breaks for Amazon
The state's Economic Assistance Coordinating Council voted Tuesday to give Amazon.com Inc. $3.25 million in state tax breaks, cementing the company's plans to build a 1-million-square-foot fulfillment center in Fall River and Freetown. In return for the tax breaks, Amazon promised to create 500 permanent jobs that will last a minimum of five years, in addition to as many as 2,000 seasonal and part-time jobs. The economic council also approved $11.6 million in local tax breaks Amazon negotiated with Fall River and Freetown. Jay Ash, the state's secretary of Housing and Economic Development, argued the area badly needs such blue-collar jobs and Massachusetts needs incentives to offset a relatively unfriendly business environment.
4. Genzyme movin’ on up
Genzyme said Friday that it will move out of the company's Cambridge headquarters at 500 Kendall Square — known as the "Genzyme Center" — when its lease expires in three years. About 950 employees will move from the signature building to a new headquarters to be constructed nearby at 50 Binney St. The biotech company signed a lease this week with Alexandria Real Estate Equities, which will develop the 10-story, 251,000-square-foot Binney Street property. The new building is expected to house about 1,300 employees. The lot is now a construction site along a row of recently opened buildings housing biopharmaceutical offices and labs and other buildings under construction.
5. Back to the future for Biogen
A dozen years after the merger of Biogen Inc. and Idec Pharmaceuticals Corp. created Biogen Idec, Inc., the company dropped the Idec and returned to the original name: Biogen. The Cambridge company, founded in 1978, calls itself the world's oldest independent biotech. The name change and a new logo reflect some changing commercial priorities and shifting power inside companies that bet huge sums on risky product development. Biogen today is the world's largest maker of multiple sclerosis therapies, with several of its drugs generating sales of more than $1 billion annually.
6. Karmaloop files for bankruptcy
Weighed down by millions in debt and poor business ventures, the Boston streetwear company Karmaloop Inc. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy Monday. Rapper Kanye West and hip-hop entrepreneur Dame Dash expressed interest in buying a majority stake of the 15-year-old company, said Greg Selkoe, founder and chief executive of Karmaloop. Selkoe founded Karmaloop from the basement of his parents' Jamaica Plain home in 2000. Karmaloop.com became known as a go-to online boutique for urban streetwear, but Selkoe's attempts to parlay that success into more than a dozen other e-commerce sites and side businesses ultimately failed. The bankruptcy filing listed $10 million to $50 million in assets and $100 million to $500 million in liabilities.
7. Energy prices fall
National Grid's rates for gas and electricity are set to drop at least 25 percent after a long, cold, and expensive winter. The state approved the utility's basic electric service rates for May through October and a typical household electric bill will fall about $30 from the winter. Consumers, however, will pay slightly more for power than they did last summer. Massachusetts gas prices fell 9 cents per gallon last week to $2.32 a gallon, according to AAA Northeast.
8. Heinz to buy Kraft in merger of food giants
H.J. Heinz Co. announced plans Wednesday to buy Kraft and create one of the world's largest food and beverage companies. The deal would bring together longtime staples in American kitchens, including Oscar Mayer lunch meats, Jell-O desserts, and Ore-Ida potatoes. The combination of the two companies was engineered by Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway and Brazilian investment firm 3G Capital, which teamed up two years ago to buy Heinz. The merger reflects the pressures facing some of the biggest packaged food makers in the nation as consumers migrate toward options they consider less processed.
9. MIT professor receives computer science’s ‘Nobel’
Michael Stonebraker, an MIT professor who did foundational research in database management systems, was named the winner of the Alan M. Turing award in computer science on Wednesday. The computer science community regards the Turing Award, given by the Association for Computing Machinery, as akin to the Nobel Prize for its field. The award, funded by Google, comes with $1 million. "Michael Stonebraker's work is an integral part of how business gets done today," said Alexander Wolf, president of the Association for Computing Machinery. Stonebraker has conducted research and taught at MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory and the University of California Berkeley.
10. And then there were two
One of the three Howard Johnson's restaurants still in business has been sold and will close after a nearly 60-year run in Lake Placid, N.Y. Owner Mike Butler says his family-run eatery will closes March 31. The chain was launched by Howard Johnson as an ice cream stand at Wollaston Beach in Quincy in the 1920s. At its peak, there were more than 1,000 restaurants and 500 motor lodges in 42 states and Canada. Two are still operating, one in Bangor, Maine, and the other in Lake George, N.Y.