Chamber News

Needham / Newton
November 20, 2020 Likes Comments

Are we wasting our time sanitizing surfaces?

Can we start by acknowledging that it’s not nearly as onerous wearing a face mask while walking on a chilly November morning as it was on a steamy day in August?

And then let’s ask: Why are we still spending so much time and money scrubbing and sanitizing surfaces when the science overwhelmingly says the virus is spread by air?
“All over the world, workers are soaping, wiping and fumigating surfaces with an urgent sense of purpose: to fight the coronavirus,” notes the New York Times.
“But scientists increasingly say that there is little to no evidence that contaminated surfaces spread the virus. In crowded indoor spaces like airports, they say, the virus that is exhaled by infected people and that lingers in the air is a much greater threat.
Adds Dr. Kevin P. Fennelly, a respiratory infection specialist with the National Institutes of Health: “In my opinion, a lot of time, energy and money is being wasted on surface disinfection and, more importantly, diverting attention and resources away from preventing airborne transmission."
Experts still endorse hand washing with soap and water for 20 seconds or hand sanitizer. But all that time and money spent cleaning would be better used to improve ventilation and air filtration.
Best Places to Work list is out
The Boston Globe’s 2020 Top Places to Work in Massachusetts list was released late last night and, not surprisingly, its full of many of our favorite local employers, ranked by size.
In fact, there’s too many here for me to list them all and still get a reasonable night's sleep. Find all the lists here.
Also congratulations to Examity in Newton and ClinLab Staffing in Watertown for qualifying for the BBJ’s 50 Fastest-Growing Private Companies in Mass list .
Buffalo games Newton again
First came Cam Newton’s humiliating fourth quarter fumble against the Buffalo Bills.
Now this.
Buffalo Games, the nation’s largest maker of jigsaw puzzle maker, has just acquired the Newton-based Ceaco, the nation’s No. 2 jigsaw maker.
Buffalo Games’ CEO Nagendra Raina said the acquisition is a chance to combine with a “design powerhouse” but that Ceaco (located at Chapel Bridge Park) will remain in Newton, according to a Buffalo Business First story posted on the BBJ’s website .
“It’s a very talented staff in Massachusetts, a company that has great relationships with retailers, and it’s a great fit with our brands,” Raina said. “We will be investing in their business to ensure they prosper.”
Unemployment spikes, while some benefits may disappear
COVID-19 cases aren’t the only numbers on the rise: Last week’s total new unemployment claims in Massachusetts reached the highest level in more than five months, reports Chris Lisinski at State House News .
The state received more than 52,000 new applications for standard unemployment benefits and over 8,000 claims for the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program for gig workers and others.
The claims surpassed 60,000 for the first time since June 6, when Massachusetts was still early in a multi-phase plan to reopen the economy following months of forced shutdowns.
That's still nowhere near the more than 100,000 per week in late March and early April, but reflect a uptick in the need for joblessness aid as the state copes with a second surge.
The increase comes as 12 million Americans, including 314,300 Massachusetts residents, could lose unemployment benefits on the day after Christmas.
Today’s three need-to-knows
  • Proposals for Needham-based community-oriented arts, humanities, and science programs has been extended to Dec. 14. Grants can support a variety of artistic projects and activities in Needham -- including organizational support, exhibits, festivals, field trips, short-term artist residencies, or performances in schools, workshops, and lectures. Details here. Pandemic-related considerations here.
The need has only accelerated
One of my favorite chamber networking events is our annual toy drive, organized by our Young Professionals Group.
Not only is it fun to see which committee member draws the short straw and comes dressed as Santa, they fill many bins full of toys and gift cards to assist with the Village Bank’s and City of Newton Dept. of Health and Human Services’ annual drive.
Like everything else, the event isn’t happening this year.
But the need has only accelerated.
So the committee has pivoted to an online fundraiser and even found a way to help some local retailers in the process.
Funds raised between now and Dec. 9 will be used to purchase toys for newborns to age 10 from Just Next Store in Auburndale and Henry Bear’s Park in Newtonville. Go here to donate.
If you’d prefer to pick out your gift in person – head down to Henry Bear’s or Just Next Store where there will be a collection box --- or drop by any Village Bank location (drop off details here).
The Young Professionals Group will also host a short virtual celebration on Dec. 9 from 12:30-1 p.m. RSVP here.
Yep, Mnuchin too
Efforts by the Trump administration to make the transition of power as difficult as possible extends to lending programs mid-sized businesses as well as initiatives that support the markets for corporate bonds and municipal debt.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is refusing to extend the pandemic-era programs, which are run by the Fed but use Treasury money to insure against losses. The programs provided an important backstop that has calmed critical markets since COVID took hold in March.
By asking the Fed to return unused funds (against its wishes), Mnuchin could prevent President-elect Joe Biden’s incoming Treasury secretary (due to be named next week) from restarting the programs in 2021, the New York Times notes.
“The Federal Reserve would prefer that the full suite of emergency facilities established during the coronavirus pandemic continue to serve their important role as a backstop for our still-strained and vulnerable economy,” the Fed said.
West Newton's The Local not closing after all
The Local in West Newton may not be closed for good after all.
The 12-year-old gastro pub has been closed since July. A “for lease” sign has been hanging over the front door.
"I cut a deal with the landlord yesterday," owner Frank Santo, president of the Wellesley Restaurant Group, tells Jenna Fisher at Newton Patch. "It's going to be reopening, I don't know when, but probably sometime in December."
"The landlord has been great," Santo said. "And once he came around and realized that you know, this is the situation it's not going away any time soon, he had a change of heart and decided to work with us. And that's why we're opening and it looks like we'll be there for a good long time to come."
The chamber's real estate committee hosted a great panel yesterday that explored one side of that delicate relationship between landlords and tenants. Watch the video replay here.
Skip something today to watch this
Finally, this morning. Take some time this morning to watch this chilling and inspiring video featuring stories of our heroic front-line team at Beth Israel Deaconess Needham.
It's humbling to be reminded what our health care workers have been through; are bracing for again; and how much our support matters.
That's it for today. Be super careful out there. Be back Tuesday.
President, Newton-Needham Regional Chamber
Your chamber is here when you need us.


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