Chamber News

September 15, 2020 Likes Comments

Campaigns focus on shopping, dining, locally

Our restaurants and retailers are entering a critical 100-day period that will determine who survives and who doesn’t.

That’s why a coalition of business owners and residents are joining with the chamber’s Needham Business Alliance committee and the Town of Needham to launch a new marketing campaign that begins today.
The “Needham 100 Day Challenge,” is designed to support and promote the town’s businesses and restaurants during the final 100 days of 2020.
The campaign was designed by Traktek Partners, a Needham-based digital marketing agency, on a pro bono basis as a community service to its hometown.
We want to remind the public of the severity of the problems facing our businesses, while also reminding everyone that this isn’t a painful ask because we have so many terrific local businesses.
And then there's the state's shop local campaign
While we’re excited to be launching a modest (i.e. no budget, earned media, etc.) shop local campaign in Needham, I’m underwhelmed by the state’s $2 million "My Local MA" campaign.
Gov. Charlie Baker unveiled the effort to great fanfare last month, promising a program designed to encourage shopping “at local Massachusetts businesses and attractions, safely – in person, online, and using curbside pickup or takeout.”
Plans included print, television, radio, billboards and online ads through the end of the year -- all pointing to a robust "Find My Local MA" website.
Hurray! Just what our struggling local businesses needed, right?
Until I looked at the site and found…. well, not our local.
At the very least you’d hope a site called FindMyLocal.MA” would help you find local independent MA businesses, right? But good luck trying to find businesses outside of the state's tourist destinations.
BC students report violations, trouble getting tested
Boston College is scheduled to update its COVID-19 testing dashboard today.
But if reports from BC’s student newspaper, the Heights, are any indication, the prognosis may not be very good.
BC’s VP for Student Affairs Joy Moore reportedly emailed students on Friday afternoon reminding them to wear masks, social distance and not have parties, at the risk of suspension.
And yet no university officials were seen on campus to enforce the university’s restrictions that night "as dozens of students gathered adjacent to residence halls, many not wearing masks while standing in close proximity,” wrote reporters Scott Baker and Madeline Romance.
The article also said BC campus police watched from patrol cars as crowds of students engaged in similar behaviors over Labor Day weekend.
"Two Boston College Police Department squad cars could be seen near the gatherings, though the gatherings continued unimpeded, and one of the squad cars later drove away."
[BC spokesman Jack Dunn tells the Globe it was “a quiet weekend with no incidents... Students are following the rules, with the exception of a few gatherings earlier in the semester in which students did not wear masks or practice physical distancing."]
And then there’s the BC student who told Channel 7 he’s having trouble getting tested.
Freshman Tommy Merida says he didn’t feel well last week. When he reported his symptoms on the school’s check-in app, he got a message to stay home and call University Health Services.
“I called almost three times, and each time I called and chose the option to speak with someone, it said this number is not available,” Merida said.
Over the weekend, Newton Mayor Ruthanne Fuller said she was "gravely concerned about the transmission of COVID-19” at BC.
“Boston College community members are integrally connected with Newton — they live, shop, dine & drink, play sports, work and recreate amongst our community. When COVID-19 spikes within the Boston College community, this impacts all of us in Newton.”
COVID Innovation Challenge
Applications are now being accepted for the Massachusetts COVID-19 Innovation Challenge, an innovation pitch competition to identify and grow innovative solutions to help slow the spread of COVID-19.
The program will culminate with a virtual pitch event and a $25,000 prize to help kick start the commercial development of their products or services. Applications are due Friday. There’s an info session tomorrow (Weds) at noon.
Revised Arsenal St. project ready for closeup
Cresset WS Venture, developers of 202 Arsenal Street, will unveil its new plans for the property from retail to mixed use, with lab, office and retail via Zoom tonight, Watertown News reports.
Vote tonight could help Newton restaurants
This summer, Needham approved a one-time, 50 per cent reduction in the liquor license fees, as one small but still meaningful way to assist struggling restaurants.
Tonight (Tuesday), Newton’s liquor commission will vote to consider a similar, one time, 50 per cent fee reduction.
Please take a minute this morning to email Commission Chair McCarthy and let the commission know you support a onetime reduction of the 2021 license fee in Newton to support our struggling restaurants.
Bad news for the MBTA
Reduced commuter rail service could be among the many service cuts implemented by the MBTA as it prepares to slash its operating budget by as much as $600 million.
"This is going to be painful," Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack said Monday. "Any conversation about not having enough resources is painful. You can't keep promises that you can't pay for, and you can't provide service you can't afford, and that is the conversation that we're laying the foundation for."
But Chris Dempsey, director of the Transportation for Massachusetts coalition, is calling on the legislature and governor to provide more financial support, just as a coalition of business groups, including our chamber, did prior to the pandemic.

T ridership has seen a significant declines as more employees work from home and others have lost jobs. Bus and Blue Line ridership is at about 35 percent of pre-COVID levels. Green and Red lines ridership are both running at 20 percent prior levels. Commuter rail and ferry ridership is less than 10 percent.
Will your businesses help get out the vote?
Will you be giving your employees paid time off to vote, help register voters or even work the polls on election day?
Jon Chesto at the Globe writes about A Day for Democracy, the Civic Alliance, and Power the Polls -- all non-partisan efforts lead by CEOs and other leaders to increase vote engagement this year. Let us know what your company is doing.
Secretary of State Bill Galvin’s office also has information about becoming a poll worker.
Have a great day.
President, Newton-Needham Regional Chamber
Your chamber is here when you need us.


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