Chamber News

June 04, 2020 Likes Comments

Breaking news: Government does some useful stuff

The monthly jobs numbers for May will be released tomorrow. Look for them to show that we’ve reached 20 percent unemployment nationwide.

On a more positive note (as we wait for Gov. Charlie Baker’s announcement on Saturday) here’s several useful things our federal, state and local leaders did yesterday to help save businesses, bring back jobs and grow our economy.
Congress, finally, agrees to fix PPP!
Pigs fly! Both houses of Congress have agreed to loosen some of the restrictions that was preventing the Paycheck Protection Program from helping the small business it was supposed to help.
After some angst last night, the Senate passed the bill on a voice vote that was previously approved by the House, clearing it for the president’s signature. The bill would:
  • Lower to 60% from 75% the minimum portion of the PPP loan that must be spent on payroll. The rest must be spent on rent, utilities and other business-related expenses.
  • Extend from eight to 24 weeks the amount of time the loan can cover.
  • Extend from two to five years the time new PPP loans must be paid back if the amount provided doesn't convert into a grant.
  • Loan forgiveness still possible if FTEs won’t come back, or if revenue in December is below Feb 2020 levels.
  • Payroll tax deferment restored.
The National Restaurant Association compares the changes in this chart.
Beacon Hill looks to help restaurants
Meanwhile, on Beacon Hill the House passed a bill yesterday designed to benefit the state’s restaurant recovery. The Included in the bill:
  • Authorizing mixed beverages to be sold to go (currently only beer and wine can be sold to go)
  • Place a 15 percent cap on the fees 3rd party delivery companies such as DoorDash or GrubHub can charge restaurants.
  • Removes the interest and penalties that restaurants may incur if they fail to pay their state meals tax on time through the end of the year;
  • Streamline of the process to authorize increased outdoor dining opportunities for on-premises consumption
The Restaurant Recovery bill now moves the state Senate.
Municipalities revise dining rules too
Newton’s Licensing Commission took a helpful vote yesterday too; agreeing to allow restaurants to serve customers outside on sidewalks and in private parking lots and also allow outdoor alcohol service. We’re still awaiting full details about the city’s outdoor dining program. Officials promise they’ll be out today.
Needham has been busy streamlining its outdoor dining rules too. Because of limited sidewalk space, plans include sectioning off part of municipal lots and even converting some parking spaces on streets to provide enough room for social distancing. By all accounts, the town is bending over backwards to accommodate requests.
Needham is also adding even more picnic tables in public spaces, including to Greene’s Field tomorrow. The town would like to add even more but they’ve run out of tables.
If your business has some outdoor tables you could loan to the town for the summer, let me know and I’ll connect you to the right person.
Fed's Main Street Lending Program nears launch
The Federal Reserve’s $600 billion Main Street Lending Program is close to launching, The BBJ reports.
The program is designed to provide relief loans for small and middle-market companies with no more than 15,000 employees or $5 billion in annual revenue.
The program is for companies that were strong before the pandemic.
Unlike the SBA’s PPP, the Main Street loans will not be forgiven and must be repaid over four years. The Fed issued some initial guidance on the program last week.
Tomorrow is the final day to apply for Newton’s COVID-19 Care Fund
Quick reminder: Newton-based workers and residents who need emergency relief have until tomorrow (Friday) to seek help from the Newton COVID-19 Care Fund. To apply, go here.
Today at 3: Sharing our Streets
As we begin to reopen, and as public health guidelines continue to encourage physical distancing, how can municipalities re-purpose street space to accommodate increased demand for walking and biking?
MAPC is hosting a webinar to discuss different strategies for creating more space on our road for pedestrians and cyclists, as well as innovative ways to extend the curb to support outdoor dining and retail. Register here.
Do you have your COVID-19 Control plan yet?
Important reminder to all businesses but especially Phase 2 businesses: All businesses in the Commonwealth must develop a written control plan outlining how its workplace will comply with the mandatory safety standards for operation before reopening. Control plans do not need to be submitted for approval but must be kept on premises and made available in the case of an inspection or outbreak. You may use the COVID-19 Control Plan template or create your own written plan.
You must also complete, sign, and post the Compliance Attestation Poster and post the Employer Guidance and Worker Guidance posters. These should be displayed in an area within the business premises that is visible to employees, customers, and visitors.
This morning: An important conversation about child care
One of the biggest challenges to restarting our economy is dependent upon helping employees find a place to keep their kids safe.
According to a Census Bureau survey adults in households with children were more likely to report permanent loss of employment and food shortages since the pandemic began. Adults not living with children were more likely to indicate their unemployment was due to a furlough or otherwise was a temporary state.
This morning at 11 a.m. we’re hosting a panel discussion exploring the challenges this industry and our families face as day care and day camps reopen. I’m excited about the caliber of speakers we’ve lined up and urge you to join us if you can.
Be back later with more!
President, Newton-Needham Regional Chamber
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