As we near the end of 2011, we want to take this opportunity not to opine on a subject of great weight to the Central Massachusetts business community, but to offer our "wish list" for those in the community who are in our thoughts as we head into 2012.
For businesses across Central Massachusetts: Positive macroeconomic conditions across the region, state, nation and world. We've had enough of the negatives the last three years to last us a lifetime.
For Worcester city planners: A bit of nudge to get a hotel chain to build downtown. Landing one can help make up for the loss of the Crowne Plaza rooms and boost revitalization of the area with the CitySquare development headed for completion in 2013.
For Hanover Insurance: Sunnier skies. The insurance company, a major local employer, was battered by losses from tornadoes, floods and hurricanes in 2011 and can use a year without major weather events.
For the region's hospitals: More elective procedures in 2012. As state residents reigned in their spending over the last few years, revenues for these profitable procedures fell, forcing layoffs in this important economic sector.
For the real estate industry: A speedy churn through the foreclosure backlog. The sluggish pace of returning bank-owned properties to the market is restraining property values and sales. If they pick up, that will bode well for an end to lower home values.
For photovoltaic solar installers: A continued, and even more aggressive, interest in renewable energy projects, despite a change in federal incentives from cash grants to tax breaks.
For ice skating fans, college hockey aficionados and the Worcester-area hospitality industry: An exciting and lucrative March, when the U.S. Synchronized Skating Championships and the NCAA Division 1 men's hockey tournament come to the DCU Center.
For AMSC (formerly American Superconductor): A return to the level of strength it once had — with a broader international customer base — before the Chinese company Sinovel took most of the wind out of its sales when it evaporated as the firm's top customer earlier this year.
For Worcester Polytechnic Institute: More innovations and more grant money for even more technological innovations that can lead to more business startups and stronger economic growth for our region.
For National Grid, et al: Applying lessons learned from the Halloween snowstorm to improve storm and power outage-response efforts that will benefit both businesses and homeowners the next time the lights go out.
For MetroWest officials: A major tenant to move into one of the large, vacant office spaces in the region, such as the Fidelity, HP or The Campus sites in Marlborough.
For commercial bankers: Credit-worthy, proven businesses to need more capital and boost demand for lending.
For the expanding higher education institutions in Worcester: A successful and on-schedule completion of the Albert Sherman Center at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, the second life sciences building in WPI's Gateway Park and the optometry school at the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences.
For MassDevelopment: Investments that pan out. May there be fewer Evergreen Solars and more Bristol-Myers Squibbs in the pipeline.