Chamber News

July 27, 2020 Likes Comments

A super important vote on Beacon Hill today

A simple reform that could help address state’s housing crisis will finally get another shot before the House today.

Housing Choice would empower communities to approve mixed use development projects with a simple majority rather than the onerous two-thirds requirement that exists now.
 
This means municipalities would still have final say in projects while preventing a minority of opponents from thwarting a proposal that has majority support; something that happens all too often these days.
Championed by Gov. Charlie Baker, the proposal has broad support from business organizations (including our chamber), environmental groups, local mayors, municipal organizations and housing advocates statewide.
 
The housing shortage threatened region's economic vitality before COVID and the situation has become even more dire. It forces employees to move further and further from jobs, contributing to the worst traffic in the nation and the warming of our planet.
 
The chamber supports passing Housing Choice without changes or exemptions. Keeping the law simple and unencumbered is critical towards its passage and, in turn, creating the housing we urgently need.
 
Restaurant relief up for debate too
 
Housing Choice is actually part of a larger jobs bill that, among other things, features a proposal to legalize sports betting, with a provision to help restaurants.
 
The proposal would license mobile and in-person betting on professional and college athletic events.
 
It would also create a new “Distressed Restaurant Trust Fund,” financed in part from legalized sports betting proceeds, Jon Chesto reports for the Globe.
 
“The bill provides for directing 30 percent of new sports-betting revenue to the restaurant fund. That translates to $15 million a year, assuming the Senate approves this language. The money would be doled out in one-time grants, up to $15,000 per restaurant, to address the financial impact of COVID-19, and could be used to cover rent, payroll, and insurance, among other expenses,” Chesto explains.
 
The gambling bill would put Massachusetts in the company of 22 other states, as well as the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, in legalizing betting on sports.
 
US Chamber sues administration over immigration

The Newton-Needham Chamber is not affiliated the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. And there certainly have been times when positions taken by the USCC haven’t aligned with our local business interests. But not always.

Last, week the USCC along with the National Association of Manufacturers, the National Retail Federation and TechNet, filed a joint lawsuit in federal court opposing the administration’s proclamation suspending new non-immigrant visas.
 
“If you want businesses to grow and the economy to rebound, you allow skilled workers to come here legally to work and contribute to the well-being of our nation; you don’t lock them out,” Thomas J. Donohue, the U.S. Chamber’s CEO wrote in a New York Times oped.
 
“If you want the next revolutionary start-up to be founded in America, you welcome foreign students; you don’t threaten to upend their lives and send them home during the middle of a pandemic. And if you want children to grow up to reach their potential and live their American dream, you give them the tools and certainty to succeed; you don’t kick them out of the only country they’ve ever known.”
 
Crosspoint’s former HQ under redevelopment
 
Dallas-based Lincoln Property Company has begun work on a 140,000-square-foot building in Waltham expected to offer 35,000 square feet of rentable lab space on each of its four floors, the BBJ reports.
 
The building, at 300 Third Ave., was Crosspoint Associates’ former HQ before they moved across the street from Newton Nexus in Newton.
 
“The strong demand from life sciences tenants simply can’t be met with the existing inventory across Cambridge, Boston and inner suburbs,” said Lincoln’s Jeff Moore. “There are several life sciences companies with large requirements in the market right now.”
 
Four events of note
  • We’ve just announced a new chamber Zoominar for this Thursday at 10 a.m. looking at how COVID has impacted the local office and retail market. Learn what to expect when looking for new office or retail space, whether landlords are providing discounts or incentives and how space will be different going forward. 
  • The SBA’s New England Regional Administrator Wendell Davis will lead a discussion on the Paycheck Protection Program and Loan Forgiveness, today (July 27) at 7 p.m. Details here.
  • The Mass Restaurant Association has assembled a panel to discuss business interruption insurance on Thursday. July 30, 2 p.m. Even though you may have been denied or discouraged from filing a claim, the panel will explain how there may in fact be coverage. Details here.
  • The Pioneer Institute will host a virtual policy briefing, "Hard-Hit Industries: Rebuilding Restaurants, Retail, and Travel & Hospitality” on Weds. July 29 at 3 p.m. featuring Mary Connaughton, the Institute’s Director of Government Transparency and Director of Finance and Administration. More Information.
New space for art in Newtonville
 
One of the amenities at Trio (Mark Development’s mix use development in Newtonville, formerly Washington Place) will be an art gallery curated by the New Art Center. This is significant, given the scarcity of local art galleries.
 
Submissions are limited to New Art Center students and faculty, which sounds like another great reason to check out this Newton treasure’s classes.
 
OK, this is terrifying
 
This photo was taken Saturday in Boston Harbor. I know, right?
 
Nominations open tomorrow
 
Finally, nominations open tomorrow (Tuesday) at 7 a.m. for the 50 Influential Business People of Color in the western suburbs list.

We see this as an opportunity to showcase the individuals and employers who are making a positive contribution to the economic and social fabric of our west suburban businesses and nonprofits.
 
Look for a link to the nomination form in tomorrow’s newsletter.
 
Stay cool!
President, Newton-Needham Regional Chamber
617-244-1688
Your chamber is here when you need us.

 

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