Chamber News

Needham / Newton
December 02, 2020 Likes Comments

Are you in a position to pay it forward?

As your chamber looks back on 2020...and forward to 2021, there’s two things we know for certain:

  • A robust and engaged membership is critical for our ability to advocate for the economic and cultural vitality of our communities.
  • COVID-19 has hit some categories of business harder than others.
So today we’re launching what we’re calling our Pay It Forward Campaign.
The campaign will raise funds to establish a grant pool to help local businesses and nonprofits retain their status as active members (or become new members) and allow them access to chamber member benefits while supporting the chamber’s advocacy and programming.
At-risk small businesses will be able to apply for a confidential 50/50 matching grant for their 2021 chamber dues starting in January. A committee consisting of current engaged members will review the applications to determine viable, in-need candidates.
If you’re in a position contribute financially to our Pay It Forward Campaign, please DONATE HERE.
I'm grateful for your consideration.
Reach out if you have questions.
Read his lips: No new closings.
Gov. Charlie Baker said yesterday that he is not currently planning any further shut downs of the economy,
"There's been a lot of misinformation going around about things that are going to get shut down here, there, everywhere, at a moment's notice. People have enough stress in their lives without having to deal with the rumor-mongering," Baker said at a news briefing.
“At this time the commonwealth is not planning any additional closures or restrictions. We’ll continue to follow closely the public health data, and continue to make decisions based on that.”
He said there’s no plans at this time to loosen any restrictions either, including requirements for restaurants to stop seating diners at 9:30 p.m. nightly.
Needham-Newton Corridor work starts Monday
Construction begins Monday (Dec. 7) on the $31.1 million Needham Street to Highland Avenue redesign project, Jenna Fisher at Patch reports.
Crews will start construction on Highland Avenue from Webster Street to Highland Circle at the Charles River, between 7 a.m. and 3:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. Work on the Newton side of the project won’t begin until next summer.
Two-way traffic and access to cross streets will be maintained at all times.
Completion date for the project is Aug 2023.
A video presentation and other materials are available on the project website.
Dare we get our hopes up?
A bipartisan group of lawmakers introduced a federal stimulus proposal worth about $908 billion on Tuesday, aiming to break a months-long partisan impasse over emergency federal relief for the U.S. economy amid the ongoing pandemic, the Washington Post reports.
We’ve had many false starts before but this proposal reportedly provides funding for small businesses, schools, health care, transit authorities and student loans plus a $300 a week unemployment benefit, $160 billion for state and local governments and a temporary moratorium on some coronavirus-related lawsuits against companies and other entities.
Today’s three need to knows
  • The minimum wage in Massachusetts will increase to $13.50 per hour starting Jan. 1. The minimum base wage for tipped employees will increase to $5.55 per hour. The rate of premium pay (applicable to many retail employees) for working on Sundays, Memorial Day, Juneteenth, Independence Day, and Labor Day, will be reduced to 1.2 times an employee’s regular rate of pay. Premium pay for working on New Year’s Day, Columbus Day, and Veterans Day, however, remains at 1.5 times the employee’s regular rate.
  • The City of Newton will host identical presentations on the efforts to rewrite the city’s zoning ordinance, tonight at 7 p.m. (Dec. 2) and again tomorrow (Thursday) at noon. RSVP to attend. Details here.
UI fraud complaints accelerating
Rarely do a few days go by when we don’t hear from a chamber member who has been subject to unemployment fraud.
Last week, Gov. Baker said the volume of fraudulent claims is making it impossible to get an accurate count of how many new claims are actually filed in a given week.
This leads to longer lag times for people who are appropriately entitled to benefits and headaches for anyone who’s identity has been stolen.
“There’s a tremendous amount of sort of bot-based fraud going on,” Baker said.
Baker said 31,000 unemployment benefits claims were filed in Massachusetts last week, of which only 1,000 passed the state’s screening process.
U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling is in the process of hiring a an assistant U.S. attorney to focus on prosecuting cases of unemployment insurance fraud and other fraud related to the CARES Act, reports.
Here's the state’s website for reporting fraudulent claims and additional information.
Equality vs equity
Find a few minutes this morning to read the interview in the Globe with Nneka Nwosu Faison, executive producer of the newsmagazine “Chronicle” on WCVB-TV, a chamber member business and probably someone we overlooked for our 50 Most Influential Business People of Color list. (I say probably only because we had close to 200 nominations and narrowing down the list wasn't easy for our judges.)
Nwosu Faison talks about the challenges she faced as a Black TV reporter in New England. I was especially inspired by her explanation of the difference between equality and equity:
“Equality is giving people of different heights the same size box to stand on so they can see over a fence. But the tall person doesn’t need the same size box as a short person. Equity is giving people what they need so that everyone can be at the same level.”
Be back tomorrow! (Don't forget to sign up for tomorrow's Regional Real Estate program.)
President, Newton-Needham Regional Chamber
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