Chamber News

Needham / Newton
December 22, 2020 Likes Comments

Another round of PPP headed our way

Before digging into today’s chock-full-of-bullet points update, I’d like to welcome members of the Wellesley Chamber to our daily e-newsletter.

I'm sure it was a difficult decision to close your chamber after 61 years of service to the businesses and nonprofits in Wellesley. But we're thrilled to have you join forces with us.
 
Bringing our 900 member businesses and nonprofits together with Wellesley’s 200 members will create one vital chamber as we work to reopen, rebuild and recover in 2021. We can't wait to get started.
 
For more, read the BBJ story here and our own statement about our plans to expand our programs and advocacy here.
 
PPP for you and me*
 
Manny Ramirez is making a comeback. And so is the PPP.
 
With no time to spare, Congress sent a $900 billion dollar stimulus package to the White House last night. The bill includes $325 billion for a second round of the Paycheck Protection Program and other provisions that could determine whether, or not, a lot of our businesses and nonprofits make it through the next few challenging months.
 
The bill -- part of a larger 5,593-page spending bill -- jammed Congressional printers last night (my grandmother would have said: "See, that's why you don't wait to the last minute."), making it even harder than usual for anyone to know what's in it. (She wouldn't have approved of this either.)
 
But here’s a few things related to a second PPP I’ve been able to discern (including from the always-helpful Andy Medici at the BBJ).
  • Most businesses will be able to borrow 2.5 times their monthly payroll.
  • Restaurants and some others in hospitality will be able to borrow 3.5 times.
  • PPP borrowers can chose to spend their loan either over an 8-week covered period or a 24-week covered period.
  • Covered expenses have been expanded to include PPE, software, cloud computing resources and human resources and accounting needs, among other things.
  • Clarification that group insurance payments count as payroll costs, including group life, disability, vision and dental insurance.
  • A simplified PPP forgiveness application (heard that one before!)
  • Forgiveness for small businesses if they spend at least 60% of their PPP second draw loan on payroll.
  • Qualified business expenses paid with PPP loans (both round 1 and round 2) are tax deductible. (Previously the IRS had ruled otherwise)
  • Repeals previous rule that required small businesses to deduct SBA Economic Injury Disaster  Loans from PPP loan forgiveness.
  • 501c6 organizations (that includes your favorite regional chamber) will be eligible for the PPP for the first time!
What else is in there?
 
In addition to the PPP, the proposal includes stimulus checks of $600 per individual, an extended eviction moratorium and enhanced unemployment insurance of about $300 a week.
 
Also of particular interest to businesses and nonprofits:
  • $20 billion for the SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program.
  • $15 billion program for live music venues, movie theaters and museums
  • $9 billion for community development financial institutions and minority deposit institutions.
  • Business meals would be a fully deductible business expense; something a certain hotel owner had pushed for.
"The boost to the economy will be significant," writes the Globe's Larry Edelman, "adding an estimated 1.5 percentage points to annualized growth in the first three months of 2021 and about 2.5 percentage points for the year, according to Moody’s Analytics.
 
But, Edelman continues, it won't be nearly enough.
 
Baker: ‘Additional steps’ coming

Gov. Charlie Baker hinted yesterday that he could soon be announcing additional measures to help flatten the curve.
 
Unfortunately, that tends to mean new restrictions on businesses, given how impossible it has been to get people to stop going to the private parties and informal gatherings that Baker repeatedly says are the primary source of spread.
Baker said he is "basically begging everyone to stay within their immediate household" for holiday celebrations while saying he’s "currently reviewing additional steps that we can take to try to minimize the impact of all this."
 
A plea to lawmakers
 
The governor also put out a call yesterday for folks to contact state lawmakers and urge them to pass long stalled legislation that would provide more help for businesses. (State House News.)
 
Lawmakers have been sitting on an economic development bill since July 30, which includes a restaurant relief bill as well as important zoning reforms that would make it easier to get housing projects approved.
 
The legislative session concludes on Jan. 5, leaving just over two weeks for lawmakers to act.
 
"The clock is ticking on the end of the session with respect to that, but the clock is also ticking for businesses here in the commonwealth that would benefit from those resources if we could get them across to our desk, sign them, and put them to work," Baker said.
 
State awards $49 million in grants
 
The Baker administration awarded nearly $49 million in grants to 1,158 small businesses yesterday while simultaneously admitting that it wasn’t enough to meet the demand. (Globe story here.)
 
The grants, administered by the Mass Growth Capital Corporation, were awarded to businesses owned by people of color, women, veterans, LGBTQ individuals and people with disabilities.
 
More than 10,000 businesses applied for the program, so only about 10 percent of the applicants received support.
 
"The funds for the first round clearly didn't cover the ground associated with those who applied," said Baker, noting that an additional $17.5 million will be awarded soon to applicants who previously applied.
 
Wellesley’s downtown loses another anchor
 
Just weeks after learning that the Gap is leaving Wellesley, comes confirmation that Peet's Coffee will also be leaving Central Street, according to the Swellesley Report. The Peet's location will become a Chase Bank branch.
 
Losing these businesses isn’t just a loss for their customers and employees but inevitably hurts the mom and pops shops in between who benefited from both stores’ foot traffic.
 
Here’s some better news
Sweet and Sage Pâtisserie, a locally-owned bakery, has just opened its first popup at the Street at Chestnut Hill, according to Wicked Local.
 
Today’s three need to knows
  • A reminder that if you have an employee who tests positive for COVID-19, you are required to report this to and cooperate with your local board of health. It is also important that employees participate in the COVID-19 Community Tracing program. The Department of Public Health has created information and guidance for persons in quarantine or isolation.
  • The COVID Relief Coalition offers pro bono legal advice and other resources to nonprofits and small businesses. Details here.
  • A reminder to Newton retailers and restaurants: You can now request to have a parking space near or in front of your place of business designated by the city for 15-minute curbside pickup. Details and application here.
Hey, that’s me on The Codcast!
 
The dire circumstances facing our restaurants is the subject of this week’s “The Codcast” and it was my privilege to be one of the guests on CommonWealth’s always engaging weekly podcast.
 
Doug Bacon, owner of eight Boston restaurants, and I talked to reporter Sarah Betancourt about the misconceptions and the struggles the hospitality businesses need to endure through the next few months.
 
Be back tomorrow. Dine out. Take out. Shop locally. Mask up. And tip generously.
President, Newton-Needham Regional Chamber
617-244-1688
Your chamber is here when you need us.

 

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