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October Unemployment Rate Steady at 7.3%

Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development
BOSTON – The Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development reported Thursday that preliminary October estimates show an increase of 10,800 jobs in Massachusetts, for a total of 3,239,300 jobs. The total unemployment rate remained at 7.3 percent, well below the national rate of 9.0 percent, and the state's lowest monthly rate since January 2009.
 
Eight of the 10 private sectors added jobs in October with the largest gains in Education and Health Services (4,700); Financial Activities (1,900); Construction (1,700); Professional, Scientific, and Business Services (1,700); and Government (2,600). There were losses over the month in Leisure and Hospitality (2,700) and Information (1,300) although both sectors are still up over last year.

The October job gain follows a revised 5,500 job loss in September.

The October estimates show 3,237,700 Massachusetts residents were employed and 253,500 were unemployed, for a total labor force of 3,491,200. The labor force increased by 12,400 from 3,478,800 in September, as 13,900 more residents were employed and 1,500 fewer residents were unemployed over-the-month. Since October 2009, there are 69,300 more residents employed and 50,900 fewer residents unemployed as the labor force increased by 18,400. Totals for October may not add exactly because of rounding.

Read the full release here.

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Tighe & Bond Commemorative Book Covers Century

WESTFIELD, Mass. — Tighe & Bond recently published "Engineering a Century of Progress, The Evolution of Tighe & Bond" to mark its 100th anniversary. These commemorative books will be distributed to key clients, employees and local historical associations.

Headquartered in Westfield, the civil engineering firm is a household name for many municipalities, as well as numerous other public and private organizations throughout New England.

It began with James Tighe, an Irish immigrant who began his career in 1892 as an engineer for the Holyoke Water Department and later as the city engineer. In 1911, Tighe established a private engineering practice and, in 1926, formed a partnership with Philip Bond, who added expertise in municipal engineering. 

After weathering the Great Depression, Tighe & Bond began expanding its work force. Today, it has more than 200 employees in six offices in Massachusetts, Connecticut and New Hampshire.


James Tighe established his engineering firm in 1911.
"This auspicious year also has afforded Tighe & Bond numerous successes in our expansion, growth in new markets, awards, and recognition as a great place to work," said David Pinsky, the firm's president. "At its annual Best Firms to Work for Summit in San Diego in September, ZweigWhite recognized Tighe & Bond as one of the best civil engineering firms to work for in the nation. We ranked second among mid-size firms and eighth overall."

This past May, the Engineering News-Record once again ranked Tighe & Bond among the top 500 design firms in the nation. And in January, Tighe & Bond acquired Appledore Engineering, a highly regarded, 23-year-old civil engineering firm located in Portsmouth, N.H.

As part of Tighe & Bond's 100th anniversary celebration, the firm has established The Centennial Project to identify two worthy projects for nonprofit agencies in need of services. This past October, the company awarded $100,000 of pro bono engineering and environmental services to two nonprofit organizations. The dollar amount of the services – which will be split between the Boys & Girls' Club of Greater Holyoke Inc. and the Big Pond Preservation Association/Horizons Inc. of Connecticut – is earmarked to support a specific noteworthy project for each group.  

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SABIC Unveils Plastics Technology for Secure IDs

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — SABIC Innovative Plastics debuted two new Lexan film technologies at the Cartes & IDentification in Paris on Monday.

The polycarbonate film simplifies adding security features ID cards to combat identity theft and counterfeiting. The technologies are advances on SABIC's Lexan Secure ID film portfolio introduced several years ago.

"Identity theft and the risk of counterfeiting call for increased functionality and innovation in electronic ID card design," said Lennard Markestein, global marketing director for Innovative Plastics' Specialty Film & Sheet. "These two new Lexan film technologies are critical additions to our ID card film portfolio, providing our customers significantly higher productivity in card production while incorporating a laser-engravable layer and a brand-new option to create more sustainable cards with longer useful life of the ID cards.

Lexan SDCX has a core layer of white opaque or transparent Lexan film with a clear, laser-engravable cap layer. Lexan SC92E hard-coated film for card overlays surpasses standard PC film in durability, including scratch and chemical resistance, helping to extend useful life and reduce resource consumption.

As more sophisticated security features are incorporated into the latest electronic ID cards and documents, additional layers are required to construct them. Lexan SDCX films also provide outstanding resistance to heat and frequent bending

Potential applications for these new SABIC films include electronic ID cards, military, government and police ID cards, passport data pages, green cards, driver licenses and border crossing cards.

Read the full press release here.

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Bollywood Bockbuster Features North Adams Effects Studio

Staff Reports
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Local special effects company Synthespian Studios has a hand in the international blockbuster "Ra.One" that opened over the weekend.

The visual effects shots in the estimated $39 million Bollywood science-fiction opus (a record-buster for India) can be traced to the small North Adams studio. 

Helmed by industry veterans Jeff Kleiser and Diana Walczak of Williamstown, Synthespian Studios' best known film work is the X-Men trilogy (they're responsible for Mystique's transformations) and more recently made a young, blond doppelganger for Bruce Willis in "Surrogates." The new Columbia logo for Columbia Pictures is also their handiwork.

 "Ra.One" star Shah Rukh Khan signed Kleiser in 2010 as lead visual effects supervisor over more than 3,500 SFX in the film. His Red Chilies Entertainment special effects company hired Synthespian to execute 120 visual effects shots for the film involving complex digital transformations of live-action characters.

Graphics programmers headed by Helge Mathee wrote custom software (nicknamed "Q-Bricks") that emulates artificially intelligent systems, giving the component digital cubes a dynamism as they break apart and re-form, behaviorily collaborating with one another as they transmute into unified characters and objects.

Kleiser said the film not only raises the bar with groundbreaking visual effects, but further reflects a globalizing paradigm shift for the production process itself. The film's extensive postproduction work is being carried out by some 800 artists working at 10 different facilities around the world. While most shots were produced in India by redchillies.vfx, Synthespian brought together an array of talent from the United States, Canada, Germany, France and South Africa.

It's a breakthrough that focuses on quality talent rather than proximity or cost, said Kleiser.

"'Ra.One's visual effects represent a global effort from many different companies. It is only through recent advances in digital connectivity that this sort of remote, virtual collaboration has been possible," he said. "We can pick out a team from around the world, and work with them remotely on even the most complex shots that require elements to be created in separate locations and composited together into the same shot. Five years ago, this would have been inconceivable."

"Ra.One," which opened in India and other locations worldwide, features the story of an evil computer game character that breaks out of the virtual world. Rukh Khan plays the programmer and game charactor G.One who stops him. The film — which the features everything from action to musical numbers — has received mixed reviews but opened strong at the box office.



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SABIC Plastics Investing in China

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Saudi Basic Industries Corp. is making significant investment in China.

Its Innovative Plastics division, headquartered in Pittsfield, has made its third Chinese engineering thermoplastics investment this year.

The plastics division, Chongqing Xiyong Micro-electronics Industrial Park, and the Chongqing Economic and Informatization Commission announced on Thursday a memorandum of understanding in which SABIC would establish an engineering thermoplastics compounding plant in Chongqing.

"We are in China, for China. In the more than 30 years we've operated in this region, we've cultivated long-term customer relationships that have helped make SABIC the first supplier many of the world's leading [orginal equipment manufacturer] call when designing their customers' innovations," said Charlie Crew, executive vice president, head of SABIC's Innovative Plastics business."

Chongqing Mayor Huang Qifan said, "This compounding plant in Chongqing Xiyong Micro-electronics Industrial Park is SABIC's third investment in China in 2011 to further enhance the electronics industry."

Today, SABIC in Asia has 41 offices, nine manufacturing sites and five Technology & Innovation Centers across 12 key Asian countries servicing a portfolio of customers across diverse industries.

Innovative Plastics strategic business unit is a multibillion-dollar leading, global supplier of engineering thermoplastics.
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