First Pot Shop In Greater Boston Opens In Brookline

James Jenner, a Lyft driver, was happy that the pot shop makes using marijuana “a normality as opposed to something that is shunned against or …

BROOKLINE (CBS) — The first pot shop in the greater Boston area opened its doors at 9 a.m. Saturday. The New England Treatment Access in Brookline is just half a mile away from Boston city limits.

A police detail and a few customers were there hours before NETA’s official opening. The line then grew to about 100.

The store’s parking lot will be closed to vehicles to make room for customers to line up. There will be an express line for people who order ahead online and no line for medical patients.

NETA’s First customer in line is 38yr old, James Jenner of Salem. Originally from Brighton. Jenner sufferers from diabetic pressure sores. The amputee uses marijuana for pain. He’s excited to purchase pot, so close to home. #Neta#brookline#grandopening@wbzpic.twitter.com/dBtB7XTefB

— Tashanea@wbz (@TSWHITLOW) March 23, 2019

Brookline Select Board Chair Neil Wishinsky was the first customer. “Hopefully it will mean an additional tax revenue and hopefully additional business for some of the surrounding merchants,” he said.

James Jenner, a Lyft driver, was happy that the pot shop makes using marijuana “a normality as opposed to something that is shunned against or frowned upon.”

Tom Sullivan, also a Lyft driver said, “As you know driving thru the streets of Boston is pretty nerve-wracking. by the time you get home, you need a little something.”

@netacaremass⁩ 1st customer at its Brookline location, James Jenner, a lyft driver from Salem, excitedly tells reporters “This is a great day!” Dispensary is the first for greater Boston. ⁦@wbzpic.twitter.com/BBSxJy3FKF

— Tashanea@wbz (@TSWHITLOW) March 23, 2019

Neighboring businesses are concerned about the limited parking causing congestion in the area but NETA Director of Operational Compliance Amanda Rositano hopes people will opt for public transportation.

“Being the first dispensary accessible to public transportation, we think that’s the best option,” said Rositano. Unfortunately, the MBTA is doing some scheduled maintenance on the Green Line’s D trains which run nearby, but the T will have shuttle buses running.

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Rents soar as health companies bloom

According to a database compiled by PwC and CB Insights, $6 billion worth of new funding went into health care-related companies last year, and …

Looking at some data, firing off some e-mails, and making some phone calls to understand what’s shaking in the local innovation economy as we head into the first full work week of March . . .

To understand Boston’s shift from a tech-driven town to one focused on health care, all you need to do is look at last year’s tallies of venture capital investment in Massachusetts companies. According to a database compiled by PwC and CB Insights, $6 billion worth of new funding went into health care-related companies last year, and $3.7 billion poured into tech companies. Sounds healthy on both sides, until you look back at 2000 — the height of the Internet boom — when fast-growing tech companies attracted $6.6 billion, and their health care counterparts just $1.1 billion.

Over less than two decades, we’ve seen a big shift in where investors see opportunities. Biotech rules.

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On funding, I often hear entrepreneurs complain about not enough money being available to help them start their businesses. But according to that same data set, there has been a 50 percent increase in the total “seed” and “early stage” funding supplied to Massachusetts companies over the last three years. (Think of this as support in the infant and toddler years, typically before a company is profitable and chalking up major revenue.) In 2015, early funding totaled $1.6 billion across all business sectors; last year it was up to $2.4 billion, a record.

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All that money, combined with the fact that most biotech companies want to be located in or near Kendall Square, has led to record rents. Two real estate watchers say that some Cambridge rents are edging into the stratosphere.

“We’re seeing office leases north of $100 per square foot for existing and new construction,” says David Townsend, executive managing director at the commercial real estate firm Newmark Knight Frank. “It’s just a function of extreme scarcity in Cambridge. There less than 1 percent vacancy in the lab space market, and office space is under 5 percent.”

Aside from a big expansion that was announced by Google last month, Townsend notes that many companies looking for big chunks of space in town are biotechs such as Foundation Medicine (cancer treatments) and Sage Therapeutics (drugs for psychiatric disorders like postpartum depression.)

Where’s the cheap space?

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“You can find value options north of Boston along Route 128, in Woburn, Salem, Wakefield,” writes Liz Berthelette, research director at the Boston real estate firm Hunneman, via e-mail. What constitutes “value”? The range of $15 to $20 per square foot, she says. South of the city, Berthelette says, in areas like Quincy and Braintree, you can lease office space for about $20 per square foot.

Titles in demand

I asked three of the best-networked recruiters I know what job titles are in especially high demand in 2019. In the tech space: VP of customer success (making sure customers are happy with your product), chief revenue officer (overseeing sales), VP of customer experience (ensuring that customers are happy, whether their interactions with you are digital or not), cybersecurity engineer, machine learning engineer, robotics scientist, and chief information security officer (making sure the data are safe and keeping hackers at bay).

In the life-sciences sector, coveted job titles include director of digital health (using software to help manage health), cell engineering scientist, computational biologist (leveraging technology to get insights that help lead to successful drugs), and managers with manufacturing expertise — especially in the cell therapy or gene therapy fields.

Thanks to John Barrett, Beverly Kahn, and Pearl Freier for filling me in.

High priorities

In his second term, Governor Charlie Baker seems unlikely to lay out a lofty vision for economic development as his predecessor, Deval Patrick, did with his major investment in the life-sciences industry. But that’s probably OK. Increasing the availability of affordable housing and providing reliable public transportation are both high priorities that come up anytime I ask entrepreneurs what the state should be doing.

Worth checking out

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Two events that really brought the community together seem to have petered out: WebInno, once held quarterly in Cambridge and run by the venture capitalist David Beisel, and the annual Innovation Unconference, run by the Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council. I miss them both.

But others are still going strong, and are worth checking out.

The Boston New Technology Meetup has a gathering on March 18 that will focus on blockchain and financial services-related startups.

Mass Innovation Nights is a monthly showcase of new products; the next is March 14 at Brandeis University. The Venture Café in Cambridge has a networking and learning gathering every Thursday, but often holds mini-conferences, as well. March 28 is SheConnects, geared to women entrepreneurs.

And among the best-kept secrets in Boston are the conferences that MIT and Harvard Business School students organize during the academic year, which often attract world-class speakers.

(Online, search either “HBS student conferences” or “MIT Sloan student conferences.”)

Coming up in March: MIT conferences on private space activity, and an HBS conference on real estate development.

How low will GE go?

GE was the only Massachusetts-based company to occupy a “top 50” slot on the most recent Fortune 500 list, which ranks companies by total revenue. It showed up at 18, right after the grocery chain Kroger and one spot ahead of Walgreens. But as GE keeps selling off parts of its empire — most recently, its biopharma business — to become more nimble, how far will it drop? The new list is out in May.

Hello, Netflix (and Walmart)

Two companies I’m surprised haven’t opened tech offices in Boston: Netflix and Walmart. Walmart has a big presence in Hoboken, N.J., thanks to its 2016 acquisition of the e-commerce site Jet.com, and Netflix has an office in Manhattan. I’d put money on one of them being in Boston by this time next year.

Scott Kirsner can be reached at kirsner@pobox.com. Follow him on Twitter @ScottKirsner.

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Five things you need to know today, and good move, Mayor Walsh

Local drone company CyPhy Works, founded by well-known robotics entrepreneur Helen Greiner, co-founder of iRobot, is rebranding as Aria Insights …
By

Executive Editor, Boston Business Journal
Jan 16, 2019, 5:58am EST

Good morning, Boston. Here are the five things you need to know as you start your busy day:

Hampshire College consider no 2019 freshman class

Hampshire College, a progressive 1,400-student liberal-arts college in Amherst, is seeking a potential “long-term partner” and is even considering not admitting a freshman class this fall.

Boston Scientific settles global heart valve legal battles for $180M

Allison DeAngelis reports that Boston Scientific Corp. has settled several heart-valve patent lawsuits it has been disputing with California-based Edwards Lifesciences Corp., with the Marlborough-based medical device giant receiving $180 million.

Globe faced two age-discrimination complaints

The Boston Globe was hit with two unrelated age-discrimination complaints over the past year, one of which was just settled within the past three weeks while the other is now the subject of an ongoing lawsuit, Don Seiffert reports. In the most recent complaint, a longtime assistant foreman in the Globe’s mailroom said he was demoted to mailer, took a 35 percent pay cut in May 2018, and was called “old man” by management.


Share the “Five Things” with a friend — by sending them this link, where and they can sign up for the Morning Edition e-newsletter.


Gillette ad takes heat for taking on masculinity

In a new ad, Gillette asks men to be “The Best A Man Can Be,” and trolls suffering the symptoms of toxic masculinity slathered nasty comments across social media. The Boston Globe, CNN and others write that the viral response is exactly why the ad, which debuted Monday, is needed.

Drone-maker CyPhy Works gets new name, new focus

Local drone company CyPhy Works, founded by well-known robotics entrepreneur Helen Greiner, co-founder of iRobot, is rebranding as Aria Insights in an effort to show that its aerial robots can now do more than fly for days with no supervision — they can record aerial data and turn it into “actionable insights” for customers, Lucy Maffei of BostInno reports.

What else you need to know

Sporting chances:

  • The Celtics tip off tonight against the division-leading Raptors, 8 p.m. (ESPN)
  • Also tonight, the Bruins face the Flyers, 7:30 p.m. (NBCSN)

This day in history:

A weather eye:

  • Partly cloudy with highs reaching 41 degrees, before snow moves in on Friday.

What I’m reading:

  • “The Map Thief,” by Michael Blanding

What’s on my playlist:

  • Boston Now, a daily podcast with news in and around the city of Boston, from local broadcaster Kim Carrigan.

Good move, Mayor Walsh

Last night was Mayor Walsh’s annual State of the City address, where he took some swipes at the state of politics in Washington, D.C., and proposed a new economic development center — a “mobile” one — that will provide an “unprecedented” number of workshops and trainings for building up economic development efforts in the city’s neighborhoods.

The workshops will focus on equity and inclusion, small-business support, community economic development and more, with topics including how to apply for small-business loans and grants, how to participate in the Boston food truck public lottery process and how to lease and own commercial space, Catherine Carlock reports.

According to John Barros, the city’s economic development chief, in a press roundtable yesterday, an effort of this magnitude “has never taken place at City Hall or anywhere else in the city.”

This is a good time for the mayor’s office to be focusing on this. Despite the economy roaring along as it is, many minority-owned and immigrant-owned businesses are still shut out of the economic prosperity taking place in select parts of the city. Walsh cited an citywide unemployment rate of 2.4 percent in his address, but the unemployment rate in some neighborhoods is double or triple that figure.

So-called “mom-and-pop businesses” are a major part of the regional economy. But the entrepreneurs trying to start them and grow them need help. Walsh said it best when he said, “We support small businesses because they lift up our neighborhoods, lift up our families, and lift up all of Boston.”

He’s exactly right.

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