THE PIONEER BLOG

Where Did the Largest PPP Loans Go? Assessing the distribution of loans by industry

The coronavirus has wreaked havoc on all parts of the economy, including small businesses. As part of the $2.2 Trillion CARES Act, Congress created the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) with the explicit intent of helping small businesses survive the tumult of the past few months. The PPP provides low-interest — and, in many cases, forgivable — loans to small businesses. The Small Business Administration (SBA) defines small businesses as establishments with 500 employees or less, and the maximum loans issued were for $10 million. On July 6, the SBA published a list of businesses that received loans in the amount of $150,000 or more. Using this data, Pioneer developed a PPP Loan Tracker, which presents loan recipient and lender information […]

Pioneer wants to know how many people with dementia have died in Massachusetts nursing homes. State government can’t even tell us how many people live in them. 

Last month, Pioneer Institute sent a public records request to the Massachusetts Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS) asking for data on the population of the state’s long-term care facilities. The goal was to determine whether COVID-19 has disproportionately impacted people with serious pre-existing conditions particular to the old and frail, such as dementia. Pioneer was extremely disappointed with the response sent to us by the state Department of Public Health (DPH), which potentially revealed shocking gaps in information on the facilities that the agency oversees.    Specifically, Pioneer asked for the following: The number of residents of long-term care facilities in Massachusetts as of February 29, 2020  The number of residents of long-term care facilities in Massachusetts […]

Let’s Be There For Students

As we head into the new academic year, unsure if remote learning will continue, we must equip our teachers to ensure that all students are offered the consistent, structured, rigorous, and supportive instructional programs that they need to succeed. This video highlights two schools that have successfully transitioned to remote learning.

Data, Attitudes, and Ecommerce: Noteworthy trends in retail for the present and future

Following the July 16th release of the June Retail Sales Report that detailed a more than 17% jump in total retail sales in the U.S. from April to May and an additional 6.4% jump in June, many Americans may assume that brighter economic days are ahead. While it may be indicative of some degree of economic resilience during the pandemic, this surge holds a bit more complexity and highlights retail trends of note for both the near future and the months ahead. Figure 1. Estimated Monthly Sales for Retail and Food Services, by Kind of Business, Percentage +/-, June 2020 v June 2019, May 2020 v May 2019, April 2020 v April 2019 (millions) Source: U.S. Census Bureau Advance Monthly […]

HHS COVID Funding Tracker

As of July, the Feds have distributed $86.7 billion to medical providers, of which $2.3 billion came to Massachusetts. Pioneer’s new HHS COVID-19 Funding app shows who and how much, from the $1 sent to American Current Care of Massachusetts, to the $418,034,675 sent to the MA Department of Public Health. We also break down the distribution by city or town.

Why Landlords are Suing Massachusetts

In late July, Governor Charlie Baker extended the moratorium on evictions and foreclosures by two months after citing the need for additional housing security amid economic hardship and COVID-19. The moratorium will now end on October 17th instead of August 18th, which gives struggling tenants more time to adjust to the pandemic. The Census Bureau’s Week 11 Household Pulse Survey showed that many Massachusetts residents, especially the Hispanic or Latino population, express less than high confidence in their ability to pay their next month’s mortgage. For them, an extended eviction moratorium will provide relief while they catch-up on lost income from COVID-19. Source: U.S. Census Bureau Tenants and tenant advocates have consequently expressed widespread support. According to new regulations from […]

How Should Massachusetts Reopen Its K–12 Schools in the Fall? Lessons from Abroad and Other States

This report asserts that, with the fall semester fast approaching, Massachusetts should provide more specific COVID-19-related guidance for school districts about ramping up remote learning infrastructure; rotating in-person cohort schedules; diversifying methods of communication between students, parents, and teachers; and investigating physical distancing capabilities.  Districts must determine whether to adopt in-person, remote, or hybrid schooling options, and they will not be ready for the fall unless the state provides clear direction.

A Time to Build

The MBTA is taking advantage of anemic low ridership from the pandemic to improve its infrastructure, but the minimal ridership also creates serious operating budget issues. Pioneer Institute’s website, MBTAAnalysis, confirms that ridership cratered in recent months, which means a massive drop in fare revenue. In every category, May ridership numbers are a fraction of what they were in February. While low ridership gives the MBTA a rare opportunity to renovate without interfering with travelers, analysis from the Massachusetts Tax Payer Foundation suggests that the T could have an “existential” operating budget deficit of more than $400 million by fiscal year 2022. The MBTA faced dire financial strain in 2015 and has spent years recovering by establishing a Fiscal and […]

One UMass System, Different Reopening Plans

One UMass System, Different Reopening Plans On March 11, UMass President Marty Meehan made the decision to shift all five UMass campuses to online instruction for the remainder of the semester. This decision was echoed by many other universities across Massachusetts and the nation in response to the emergence of the coronavirus pandemic.  As the four UMass campuses that serve undergraduates continue finalizing their plans for the fall and beyond, it seems that the system is permitting each school’s local landscape to factor into campus reopening plans. This is an encouraging sign. Given that UMass-Amherst, Boston, Dartmouth, and Lowell are all unique campuses, they need not chart the same path. Table 1 demonstrates that the areas surrounding UMass undergraduate campuses […]

Bringing Back Youth Soccer Amidst COVID-19

For decades, organized youth soccer has been a staple for teaching valuable lessons and improving physical fitness of children all over the country; more than three million players from the ages of 5 to 19 are registered currently with U.S Youth Soccer. However, soccer organizations across the nation must implement several new protocols for kids, coaches, referees, parents, and other spectators to stay safe amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. While new policy is being put in place as a result of the pandemic, many of the resulting procedures will likely merit long-term use in youth soccer.   Although the game is played outdoors and primarily with players separated and kicking the ball, there are still numerous ways that the virus has […]

Announcing the Pioneer Institute & Nichols College Sports Management Policy College Case Competition

In recognition of the cancellation of many student internships for summer 2020, especially those in the sports management industry held concurrently with major sporting events, Pioneer Institute has partnered with Nichols College to provide undergraduate college students an opportunity to solve problems pertinent to the present COVID-19 crisis in a rewarding, competitive format.    The Institute is working to facilitate the adaptation of youth sports leagues to these challenging times for the benefit of our children’s physical and mental wellbeing. Enforcing cleanliness procedures among young athletes can be extremely challenging, and we believe this issue deserves more attention in advance of a potential resurgence of COVID-19 in the fall.    Youth sports are used to teach children interpersonal communication, discipline, […]

Open Letter to MassDOT Board Regarding I-90 Allston Multimodal Project

Read Pioneer’s Open Letter to MassDOT on the I-90 Allston Multimodal Project, Boston, MA National Environmental Policy Act Review Scoping Report: All At-Grade Option and 8-lane Turnpike – Throat Area

Sensible police reform includes changing ‘qualified immunity’ laws

Even in a time of painful divisions in our country, there is little doubt among people of good faith that what Derek Chauvin and three other former Minneapolis police officers did to George Floyd was criminal. If they are indeed convicted of a felony, how is it that the former officers could very well be immune from civil liability?

Coronavirus Hits Back on Communities Who Slowed Their Spread

“This couldn’t come at a worse time,” said rep. Bill Keating while discussing COVID-19’s effect on Cape Cod’s summer season. Every year, the Cape and Islands draw people from around the country to their beaches and historic communities. Tourists, celebrities, and even presidents go to visit the beautiful landscape while bringing with them enough business to support a seasonal industry that many locals rely on. But with the Coronavirus pandemic that brought stay-at-home orders, social distancing guidelines, and overall fear, the Cape and Islands are suffering. When it comes to COVID-19 and places like Cape Cod, the consequences of the virus don’t necessarily follow the spread. Nantucket County, for example, has both the highest unemployment rate (23.5%) and lowest COVID-19 […]

Even for the most remote part of Massachusetts (Franklin County), it’s far from business as usual

The Connecticut River valley is home to some of the most productive agricultural land in New England, and rural Franklin County, Massachusetts has some visible agricultural traditions. The county seat of Greenfield alone is home to several tree farms, a livestock producer, and a composting service.   At the same time, Franklin County is a poster child for the decades-long trend of declining agricultural and manufacturing jobs across the country, and COVID-19 has thrown an additional wrench into the county’s initiative to reshape its economic identity to emphasize tourism and the arts. The area’s patchwork of small towns has created an economic landscape that’s hard to categorize, as exhibited by the lack of a strong presence of any given industry […]