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Updated: December 25, 2023 Economic Forecast 2024

Results: How did WBJ do with its 2023 predictions?

A concrete office tower beyond a field of green grass. One half of a sign that once read Telegram and Gazette is visible atop the building Photo | Christine Peterson 100 Front St., home of the Telegram & Gazette's offices. The Telegram sign on the building was removed in August 2023.

In December 2022, the WBJ Editorial staff made 10 bold predictions for news events to happen in Central Massachusetts throughout the year. Turns out, we missed the mark on all but two.


The Telegram & Gazette will be sold.

Gannett, the corporate owner of Worcester’s newspaper of record, sold a number of smaller Central Massachusetts publications in 2022. While Gannett doesn’t appear to be too interested in investing into the Telegram & Gazette’s news operations, it didn’t sell the publication either. Regardless of corporate interest, the Telegram’s news content appears to have been reinvigorated under new Executive Editor Michael McDermott.

[Related: Check out the WBJ newsroom's predictions for 2024.]


Six major planned MetroWest developments will be stopped by NIMBY efforts.

After neighbors successfully sued a Hudson warehouse from happening, it appeared the overcrowding and traffic concerns in MetroWest would lead to more developments falling by the wayside. While some may have scrapped their plans quietly, only one publicly fell to NIMBY efforts: 300 proposed apartments off Assabet River Trail in Marlborough.


The number of large Central Massachusetts organizations led by people of color will increase 50%.

Of the 50 largest employers in the region, six (Waters Corp., Worcester Polytechnic Institute, College of the Holy Cross, Quinsigamond Community College, Community Healthlink, AbbVie, and Digital Federal Credit Union) were led by a person of color at the start of 2023. As of Dec. 18, zero companies joined that elite group, and the president of Community Healthlink resigned, with a successor yet to be named.


Ten cannabis businesses in Central Massachusetts will close.

After years of rapid expansion, the legal marijuana industry faced contraction in 2023. A number of businesses closed operations, such as Trulieve closing Worcester and Framingham operations as it exited the state, and CommCan closing its Southborough dispensary. Despite the contraction, the number of closures never hit 10.


Three high-profile businesses serving the electric vehicle market will open or expand in Central Massachusetts.

Two Central Massachusetts companies – Ascend Elements in Westborough and Aspen Aerogels in Northborough – in 2022 announced plans for nearly $2 billion in investment to serve the EV battery market. While other companies took notice, such as Marlborough laser manufacturer IPG Photonics, this year didn’t bring significantly more entries into the EV market.


Three more college presidents will retire or resign.

Two local college presidents did step down in 2023: Fitchburg State University President Richard Lapidus said in October he will resign at the end of the school year. At Nichols College, former President Glenn Sulmasy was forced to resign in October after a CNN investigation uncovered allegations of misconduct when he was previously an instructor at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy.


A dozen Canal District businesses will close or sell out.

The Worcester neighborhood remains in transition in the wake of the Polar Park baseball stadium opening in 2021, with businesses moving in and out, along with properties being bought and sold. While a handful of smaller businesses closed their spaces in the Worcester Public Market, including the high-profile retailer Worcester Wares, the number of closures never reached a dozen.


Tenet Healthcare will sell the MetroWest Medical Center.

The Framingham and Natick healthcare facilities saw plenty of transitions in 2023, including its CEO resigning after less than six months on the job, but Dallas-based Tenet still owns the facility, where operations appear to have stabilized.


More than 500 proposed units of Worcester housing will be canceled or downsized.

In December, the former Worcester location of Smokestack Urban Barbecue was put back on the market, ostensibly ending a planned 375-unit development. This came after the Franklin Lofts development reduced its planned 421-unit complex by 14% and a proposed development at 153 Green St. cut 10 of its units. A number of the other 4,000+ proposed units in various stages of development remain in limbo, as high construction costs and interest rates make financials more uncertain for developers.


Unionization will rise at high-profile Central Massachusetts employers.

We initially predicted more labor unions at Starbucks, Amazon facilities, and colleges in the region, expecting they would build off of union efforts at those organizations in 2022. While those didn’t happen, union drives did happen at Planned Parenthood in Marlborough and Worcester, along with Framingham Union Hospital.

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