BUSINESS & ECONOMY

The Airbnb posting for a bedroom rented out by Northampton, Mass., resident Rachael Naismith.
Screen shot / Airbnb

The budget recently approved by the Massachusetts Senate would add a new tax to short-term room rentals such as Airbnb. The company is in favor of the tax, but not everyone is as enthusiastic.

The Senate proposal would apply the 5.7 percent state hotel tax to Airbnb-type rentals. Cities and towns would be able to tack on another six percent.

Rachael Naismith of Northampton has been renting a room in her home through Airbnb for more than four years, and doesn't sound thrilled with the plan.

A jar next to the register in the Haymarket Cafe in Northampton, Massachusetts collects money for a "common account" for diners who can't afford to pay for their meals.
Katherine Davis-Young / NEPR

If you could pay a little extra for your meal to help feed a hungry person, would you? That’s what one restaurant in western Massachusetts is hoping diners will consider when they come in to eat.

But making changes to the restaurant business model is complicated. 

Employees at Tree House Brewing in Monson, Mass., fill beer growlers.
Jesse Costa / WBUR

Craft beer enthusiasts in Massachusetts looking to take home growlers from their favorite breweries now won't have to rely just on glass jugs provided by the beer maker.

In an attempt to clarify regulations, the state's Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission said that customers can get their own beer growlers filled, so long as there's nothing printed on the outside.

Berkshire Bank offices in downtown Pittsfield.
Adam Frenier / NEPR

News this week that Berkshire Bank plans to move its headquarters from Pittsfield to Boston caught some local officials by surprise. But they're hoping the bank's move could still end up being a positive for Berkshire County and its largest city.

The Connecticut Statehouse in Hartford.
Jim Bowen / Creative Commons

A bill that would expand protections for pregnant women in the workplace awaits action by the Connecticut Senate. It cleared the House of Representatives on Tuesday on a 120-30 vote.

Democratic Rep. Liz Linehan said the measure would require businesses to provide reasonable accommodations for pregnant workers, which could include more frequent breaks and the ability to work while sitting. The bill does include an exemption for businesses that would experience "undue hardship" when accommodating a worker.

Berkshire Bank offices in downtown Pittsfield.
Adam Frenier / NEPR

Berkshire Bank says its planned move to Boston will have little impact on workers at its current headquarters in Pittsfield.

The move to Boston is largely driven by Berkshire's planned acquisition of Commerce Bank, which has 19 branches in central and eastern Massachusetts.

Sean Gray, chief operating officer of Berkshire Bank, said there will be no job losses in Pittsfield and the city will remain an operational center for the bank.

He said moving its headquarters to Boston will get executives closer to regulators, lawmakers and the financial hub of the region.

People playing the slot machines at the Plainridge Park Casino
Don Treeger / The Republican

Net revenue at the first casino to open in Massachusetts was essentially flat in the first quarter of 2017 compared to last year.

The total at the Plainridge slots parlor from January to March was roughly $38 million. The information was presented Wednesday at a meeting of the state gaming commission.

A view from the hilltop at Bree-Z-Knoll dairy farm in Leyden, Mass.
File Photo / The Republican

New research from the Franklin Regional Council of Governments makes clear that rural towns in the western part of the state face far different challenges than those closer to Boston. 

Researchers took a look at towns with fewer than 500 people per square mile -- that's about half the cities and towns in the state. 

Linda Dunlavy is executive director of the Franklin Regional Council of Government. She said rural communities across the state face education challenges, but for different reasons.

Haymarket Cafe in Northampton, which is closing for part of May 1, 2017, to support workers and immigrants.
Jim Kinney / The Republican

The first day of May — May Day — is also known as International Workers Day. In honor of it, roughly 20 businesses and organizations in the Pioneer Valley are closing their doors for the day.

It's part of a nationwide effort, and immigrants are a key part of the focus.

A screenshot from the West Mass branding video.
Video by Steve Porter / PORTERHOUSE MEDIA

Booster organizations for western Massachusetts are pausing their rollout of a new brand for the region. "West Mass" was chosen earlier this year as a new name for the Pioneer Valley, the region made up of Hampden, Hampshire and Franklin counties.

The new moniker, commissioned by the Greater Springfield Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Western Massachusetts Economic Development Council, was geared toward attracting tourists and new businesses to the region.

But closer to home, "West Mass" did not go over well.

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