After A Long Wait, Former City Councilor Tito Jackson’s Cannabis Business Opens In Boston – The Boston Globe

If the business were still around today, Tito Jackson might be a customer. He just opened up Apex Noire in a skinny, seven-story building near Faneuil Hall, taking over about 10,000 square feet across all the floors. (The Japanese restaurant Kamakura previously used much of the space.) He will operate the top two floors as a bar and lounge starting this spring; the rooftop level features a retractable glass ceiling and views of the Custom House tower. The cannabis sales, meanwhile, take place on the first and second floors. The first sales happened on Saturday, with a grand opening coming in February.

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“For me to be able to be Herb Jackson’s son, and now being able to own a business on State Street, that means the world to me,” Jackson said.

It certainly didn’t happen overnight. After unsuccessfully running for mayor against Marty Walsh in 2017, Jackson left elected politics behind — eventually to focus on a budding marijuana business, as recreational sales became legalized in the state. He struggled to find financing at first because few banks will take on marijuana work. He started out with backing from a multistate operator, but that relationship fell apart. Now, he uses Needham Bank, after that bank acquired the former Century Bank’s marijuana portfolio from Eastern Bank.

Jackson received investments in Verdant Reparative (Apex Noire’s legal business name) and from friends and family members. He had started a crowdfunding effort about a year ago but put that on hold; he plans to restart it soon, to accept investors for as little as $100 apiece. He ended up securing a dispensary license and a manufacturing license from the state Cannabis Control Commission and is one of Boston’s few Black business owners to acquire an on-premises liquor license on the open market.

Jackson has five employees and expects to hire another dozen in the coming weeks. It’s not just about earning a living, but also providing jobs for people from disadvantaged backgrounds. In a way, Jackson sees his entrepreneurial venture as similar to his father’s activism.

“It shows we can have a successful Black-owned business [in downtown],” Jackson said. “We not only will be financially successful here, but we also will make an impact on this neighborhood, the city, and the people who live here.”

Lego takes a ride on the MBTA

When Lego announced last week it would move its North American headquarters from Connecticut to Boston, it was a vindication for a city struggling with rising office vacancy rates in the wake of COVID-19. But the announcement was also a big win for MassEcon, a nonprofit organization that quietly pitches the state to all sorts of employers. Because MassEcon is not a public agency, it can keep projects moving forward on the QT, as opposed to state or city agencies that would be subject to public records laws.

In this case, MassEcon executive director Pete Abair said the Massachusetts Office of Business Development reached out to MassEcon last year after consultants sought full confidentiality on behalf of “Project Aquarius,” a code name for a relocation project that eventually turned out to be Lego. MassEcon handled the effort from there, until top state and city officials could be notified of the company’s identity earlier this month. The Danish company has not yet announced the address of its new office.

Abair said he was impressed that Lego executives came prepared with detailed demographic information about Greater Boston’s workforce; that’s something MassEcon usually puts together.

Aside from the availability of talent here, other big pluses for Lego as its executives weighed various competing locations were Logan Airport and the MBTA.

Yes, you heard correctly: Our mishap-prone transit system is still a selling point.

“As maligned as the T is, we have it, it moves people, it moves a lot of people,” Abair said. “It’s a real asset that not every place has.”

Is ‘mobility pricing’ back on the agenda?

Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce chief executive Jim Rooney saw his hopes for legislation to create a “mobility pricing” commission dashed last summer, when then-governor Charlie Baker amended the language in a way that caused the proposal to be stuck in legislative limbo.

Rooney last week vowed to take up the cause again this year, in his first “State of Business” address, delivered to chamber members via a livestream. This proposed commission would study new ways to pay for the state’s aging transportation infrastructure — be it congestion pricing, new tolls, or some other revenue source. Rooney is particularly worried about the future of the gas tax, an important transportation funding source that will likely decline over time as electric cars replace gasoline-powered ones. He didn’t mention Baker by name, but he did say the idea was approved by the Legislature and then not signed by the governor — twice.

“For decades, the state lurched from one transportation financial crisis to another and always relied on the quick, patchwork fix,” Rooney said. “But a focused mobility pricing commission can set Massachusetts up with a long-term strategic plan for transportation financing.”

Maybe he’ll get a more receptive audience now that Governor Maura Healey has taken over.

New Biogen boss welcomes new governor

Speaking of Healey, she isn’t the only one giving speeches as part of a new job.

New Biogen chief executive Chris Viehbacher gave the opening remarks at an Associated Industries of Massachusetts event, held at the Marriott hotel in Newton last week. The former Sanofi boss took over for Michel Vounatsos at Cambridge-based Biogen in November.

In his first public speech in Massachusetts as Biogen chief executive, Viehbacher said the state is the envy of the global life sciences industry.

He pointed to how investors, universities, and research hospitals are all in close proximity to each other here. “This area is able to attract talent from around the world,” he said. “There’s no place in the world [like it].”

When Healey, the event’s featured speaker, followed Viehbacher, she noted the similarity of their situations.

“I kidded him,” said Healey, who was sworn in as governor three weeks earlier. “He’s been on the job for six weeks. He’s a veteran.”

Walsh gets props, fields a few job requests

For a moment, US Labor Secretary Marty Walsh was rumored to be in the mix for another top Biden administration job: chief of staff.

Walsh was asked about the rumors by New England Council president Jim Brett, a longtime friend who also hails from Dorchester, after the former Boston mayor gave a speech to the council on Friday in which he rattled off several accomplishments during his time in City Hall.

Walsh said he was boarding a plane earlier this month when someone shared a New York Times article about how Ron Klain was stepping down as White House chief of staff. A short list of possible replacements in the story included Walsh. Last week, President Biden ended up naming Jeff Zients to the job.

Walsh seemed to find some humor in the episode. He said on Friday that by the time his plane touched down on the day he read the Times story, his phone was blowing up.

“I texted one or two people, and then I took off,” Walsh said. “When I landed, it was 68 texts: people congratulating me, a couple people looking for jobs. You’ve got to love Boston: …‘I want a job in the White House.’ Yeah, we’ll put you right in.”

Jon Chesto can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @jonchesto.

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