BOSTON — Massachusetts residents will have to pay a little more next holiday season for their online purchases.
Gov. Deval Patrick and Amazon announced on Tuesday an agreement for the online retail giant to collect and remit state sales taxes beginning next Nov. 1. According to the press statement, Amazon also plans to create hundreds of high-tech jobs in Massachusetts in coming years.
Online retailers for years have been under pressure to collect state sales taxes even if they don't have a physical presence in the state. Brick-and-mortar merchants say Web retailers failure to collect taxes puts them at a disadvantage, states that they're losing billions in revenue.
Amazon already collects sales taxes for California, Kansas, Kentucky, New York, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Texas and Washington. Massachusetts and five other states will be added in the next couple years.
"We are thankful Amazon was willing to come to the table and we will continue our conversations with them about creating jobs here," said Patrick in a statement. "This agreement is a win for all sides, and I am pleased it promises to generate millions in long-term revenue for the commonwealth."
Patrick and Amazon officials reiterated support for federal legislation to resolve the sales tax issue. The Supreme Court in 1967 determined that collecting sales tax would place an undue burden on what were then catalog sales but technology has vastly changed the remote retail industry.
"We appreciate Governor Patrick's commitment to Massachusetts jobs and investment and his support for legislation now before Congress that would provide a final resolution to the sales tax issue," said Paul Misener, Amazon vice president of global public policy. "We look forward to creating hundreds of high tech jobs in Massachusetts and continuing to work with Governor Patrick, state leaders, retailers and Congress to pass federal legislation permitting interstate sales tax collection."
Best Buy at Berkshire Mall Staying Open
By Larry Kratka On: 05:52PM / Monday April 16, 2012
LANESBOROUGH, Mass. — It looks like the Best Buy store at the Berkshire Mall will be staying open.
Best Buy is reeling from online competition and announced last month that it would be reducing the number of locations in an effort to cut costs. The company has just disclosed the list of retail locations it plans to close this year, which will come to a grand total of 50 stores in the United States.
Boston and Wareham will lose one store each but that's it for Massachusetts. No stores are closing in nearby New York or Connecticut.
The hardest hit states were California, Illinois and Virginia. Best Buy officials said they expect most of these stores will permanently close by May 12. Three additional locations are expected to permanently close later this summer. Best Buy operates 1,400 stores across the nation.
USA Today reported the electronics retailer is also cutting 400 corporate jobs. CEO Brian Dunn stepped down last week. The company has said it will be opening some 100 smaller and more profitable "mobile" stores.
Recycle, Renew and Reuse Technology Program Launched
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Berkshire Bank announced the launch of its Recycle, Renew and Reuse Technology Partnership Program.
Through the program, small Berkshire County non-profit organizations will have the opportunity to apply to receive a limited number of computers, telephones and other technology equipment. The technology has been made available as the result of equipment upgrades and recent mergers.
“We are excited to be able to recycle this technology for use by some of the really important non-profit organizations doing great work in our community, but which may not have the resources to maintain up-to-date computers," said Lori Gazzillo, assistant vice president of community relations at Berkshire Bank.
Cranwell Resort, Spa and Golf Club has launched a nifty app for iPhone and Android. The Cranwell app offers a guide to the hotel's amenities, recommendations and special offers. Plus it features a map of activities in the Berkshires.
"The way that our customers search for and book their vacation experience is shifting," said Norma Probst, director of marketing for the resort. "This new feature will enable us to connect with our guests and prospective visitors before, during and after their stays."
The app, one of 20 hotel and resort apps developed by DeCare Systems Ireland Ltd., offers quick access to real-time reservations and Cranwell phone and email contacts and images of the historic resort. App users can explore all the facilities of the resort in a few easy taps — from information on wining and dining at the hotel's restaurants and bar, to room and suite accommodations.
Users can access sections on the Spa at Cranwell, golfing or skiing, as well as a profile of their conference and wedding facilities. Then they can shoot off an e-mail to tell their friends all about it.
The app also offers an area guide (notably clustered mostly in South County along Route 7) for taverns, dining, shopping, outdoor and cultural activities, hospitals and transportation, along with a Google map to show you how to get there. We're not sure where they're drawing the information, but the North County section is pretty skimpy. The locations do, however, get you not only a location but access to contacts and Web pages.
The "news" section is also sparse, consisting of mainly tweets and retweets from Cranwell. But then it is designed to promote Cranwell and areas of interest to its patrons, not the local or national media.
Cranwell Resort says it partnered with O'Rourke Hospitality's Smart Stay App to provide "a highly specialized service solution for mobile travelers to the Berkshires."
We downloaded the app to try it out and found it very easy to use. If you're coming to the Berkshires and don't know your way around, this is a nice littlemobile concierge. The free app can be downloaded for iPhone, iPad and Android systems.
Looks like Cranwell is out front with offering the area's first mobile application — at least we can't find anyone else who's doing it.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Guidance systems for nuclear missiles deployed on new and old Navy submarines will come from the hands of local workers.
Nearly 300 employees of local defense contractors received job security with a $494 million government contract released in December to modernize the country's Trident II missiles' guidance systems.
"Work on the MK 6 guidance system operations contract is performed in Pittsfield by 244 General Dynamic employees, 32 Raytheon Company employees and eight Draper Laboratory employees. This award is a continuation of our existing work and will sustain current employment levels over the next three years," said Kathleen Granchelli, direct of media relations and communications at Draper, in an e-mail. That information was provided by General Dynamics, she said.
The Department of Defense announced the contract last month to Cambridge-based Draper Laboratories to build guidance systems for the missiles deployed on Ohio-class submarines. Local employees at General Dynamics, Raytheon and Draper will be responsible for 11 percent of the project.
The system is an inertial guidance that sends steering commands to the missile during launch. Pittsfield's contingent will be providing technical engineering.
"Draper and its subcontractors' current efforts are to the ensure that the MK 6 can reliably operate its critical function through the year 2042. This includes replacing 1980s electronics with new technology," Granchelli said.
The system is for Trident II missiles that were developed in the late 1980s with a long-range and highly precise guidance system that allows for first-strike capability. The missile is considered one of the most important part of the country's nuclear arsenal.
The $494 million is a base contract with unexercised options that can be funded annually.
Draper is a nonprofit organization that provides research and development for multiple government agencies including NASA, the Air Force and the Navy. The laboratory has a satellite location on Merrill Road.