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Michelle Wu of Boston is mayor of many firsts

When Michelle Wu became the first woman and first person of color to be elected mayor of Boston in November, she was blessed with nearly $350 million in one-time federal funds behind a promise of “transformative change” in its first $3.99 billion. annual budget. Unlike other cities using the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 to shore up revenue lost during the pandemic, Wu is committed to providing more accessible housing, free public transit, and making Boston “the greenest city around.” of America” ​​with Covid-19 relief money.

“We are changing to ensure that investments in public transport and active transportation mean that we will not be a car-centric city, but a city focused on climate, health and opportunity,” said the 55th mayor. of Boston during a June interview with Bloomberg News. in his town hall office.

Wu, the daughter of Taiwanese immigrants who earned her bachelor’s degree and law degrees from Harvard University, has reason to be confident. Among major cities in the Northeast, Boston is the only state behemoth north of Delaware and east of Minnesota showing robust population growth, increasing 7.4% since 2010 in the last 2020 census. grew by just over half that rate, Ohio and Pennsylvania a third as much, Connecticut barely, and Illinois lost nearly 80,000. New Jersey rose 5.7%.

For all its trappings as a mecca for higher education – about 152,000 students, or 10% of Massachusetts’ population – not all of “Beantown’s” prospects are favorable, as evidenced by the city’s difficulty in making in the face of a state audit documenting an “entrenched dysfunction”. in the primary and secondary school system of 46,000 students. Wu also inherits a less-than-stellar outlook for city finances, which shows increasing liabilities with spending outpacing revenue over the past three years.

Although data compiled by Bloomberg shows that Atlanta and Phoenix emerge from the pandemic with superior investment quality scores (IG1), particularly supported by falling liabilities, rising tax revenues and median income, Boston is lower (IG4) among 10 levels of creditworthiness based on total assets, building permits, total liabilities, house price index, excess of income over expenses, other sources of finance, property tax income, median income , non-agricultural employment and unemployment.

But Wu can count on a non-governmental asset that makes Boston exceptional in the whole world. No city has three biotech companies that rival the performance of Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc., Moderna Inc. and Biogen Inc., which have appreciated an average of 358% over the past three years and seen their combined sales increase 800% in the last year alone. .

Health care represents 40% of businesses in Massachusetts and 50% of these activities are biotechnology and pharmaceuticals. The 57 Massachusetts biotech companies in the Russell 3000 Index have produced a total return of 37% and 286% over the past two and three years, significantly outperforming their peers in California (down 8%, up 28 %), New York (1%, 104%) and New Jersey (down 11%, up 96%), according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Employment in the Massachusetts biotech industry has increased 45% over the past year, while non-farm employment in the United States has increased by 4%, biotech companies in California, New York and of New Jersey adding 13%, 19% and 23%, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Biotech is becoming Boston’s fastest-growing source of revenue, with the 20 biotech and healthcare companies among the city’s 64 publicly traded companies generating $1.57 billion in profits, or 48% of the combined total.

The biggest movers include Karuna Therapeutics Inc., whose valuation has increased 18 times since its IPO three years ago. Only its neighbour, Moderna, topped that performance among the world’s 50 largest biotech companies. Since its IPO in June 2020, Cerevel Therapeutics Holdings Inc. has gained 140%, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

All of this “strengthens Boston as a home for big ideas that can change the world,” Wu said. “Life-saving technology, cutting-edge care happens here. We are very lucky because this is not a situation that I or any mayor in recent history have started. Boston has the bones and foundations of everything we need to truly be the leading city of the future.

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This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the Editorial Board or of Bloomberg LP and its owners.

Matthew A. Winkler, Editor Emeritus of Bloomberg News, writes about the markets.

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