Chamber News

Needham / Newton
January 21, 2021 Likes Comments

Can Facebook help save restaurants?

After a bumpy start, it feels like 2021 began for real yesterday. Here's the latest.

Can Facebook help save our restaurants?
 
Bars on the South Shore say they’re getting a major boost from a Facebook group focused on pizza pubs, the Brockton Enterprise reports.
 
The South Shore Bar Pizza Social Club boasts nearly 24,000 pizza loving members who are flooding pubs, taverns and and dive bar with take out orders.
 
“Bar pizza has not only survived, it has thrived," said Kerry Byrne, a former Boston Herald food writer who started the Facebook group out of concern for local restaurants and how a decline in indoor dining would impact them.

Several groups in our market are also dedicated to supporting dining local, although so far none are quite as big as that South Shore group, at least not yet.
 
There's the MetroWest-focused Chew On This, with nearly 12,000 members.
 
Both Needham Restaurants and the Chamber’s own Shop Dine Needham proudly support the town's dining scene. And there’s Watertown and Surrounding Community, Eating Local Stimulus.
 
If there’s a similar dining-dedicated Newton or Wellesley group, we couldn’t find it. Here’s hoping someone starts them. And let me know what else I missing.

And here’s a few Instagram feeds to follow as well:
@allovernewton
@metrowestfoodies
@wellesleytakeout
@chewonthis1985

Meanwhile, the suburban takeout scene remains woefully underrepresented on Boston Globe’s big “Project Takeout” map, As of last night, it only listed nine restaurants in Newton, two in Needham and two in Wellesley that offer takeout.

If this bugs you too, email Food & Travel Editor Chris Morris and remind her that our suburban restaurants are struggling too.
 
128 Biz Council head laments ‘heart breaking’ vetoes

Add Monica Tibbits-Nutt to the list of high-profile transportation experts who were frustrated by Gov. Charlie Baker’s recent heart-breaking vetoes in the transportation bond bill.

The only difference here is Tibbits-Nutt is a Baker appointee to the boards of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation and the MBTA’s Fiscal and Management Control Board, notes Bruce Mohl at CommonWealth.

Tibbits-Nutt posted a lengthy Tweet series this week that began by pointing out the many good projects in the $16.5 billion bond bill.

But she's not happy with vetoes of two programs that also had support from this chamber and other business groups: the formation of a commission to study tolling as a way to manage congestion; and a proposal to raise fees on Uber and Lyft rides.
 
“Many of the vetoes represent missed opportunities for building a more equitable transportation system for all residents of the Commonwealth,” tweeted Tibbits-Nutt who is also executive director of the 128 Business Council, which operates shuttles serving Needham, Newton and other communities in our area.
 
Tibbits-Nutt also lamented the striking of reduced fares for low-income people as well as a veto of a program providing grants to transportation management associations, private organizations, including the Business Council.
 
“The programs that were vetoed won’t potentially make it back onto a legislative agenda for several years—maybe longer,” she added.
 
Hardly 'Sleepy Joe'
 
Here's a look at some the actions taken by Joe Biden in his first half day as President of the United States.
 
Calling all Wellesley businesses and nonprofits

On Thurs. Feb. 4 the chamber will be holding an open house information session for Wellesley-based businesses and nonprofits. If you are a former Wellesley Chamber member with questions about the transition, or if you’ve never been a member and are not even sure what the chamber can do for your organization – this is an opportunity to learn more.

We’ll have a short presentation, but mostly this will be an opportunity to ask questions and discuss ways in which the chamber can best serve your company and the Wellesley community at large. RSVP here or by emailing info@nnchamber.com
 
Today’s need to knows
 
  • Although the Paid Family and Medical Leave Act (PFMLA) has been in effect for over a year, with employers withholding contributions since Oct. 1, 2019, benefits became available for the first time on Jan. 1. The Boston Chamber has this summary.
  • The Needham Unite Against Racism Initiative (NUARI) Working Group is creating a vision statement for racial equity in Needham and guiding principles that will inform future actions to achieve that vision. A draft statement is here. Feedback is welcome here. The next meeting is Jan. 25, 6 p.m. via Zoom.
  • NBC10 Boston, NECN and Telemundo Nueva Inglaterra and the Comcast NBCUniversal Foundation is accepting applications from nonprofits through Feb. 12 for its annual Project Innovation grant challenge. The stations will award a total of $315,000 to up to 12 community organizations in May.
Galen Street life sciences center advances
Boston Development Group’s proposed new life science building on Galen Street just outside of Watertown Square just received thumbs-up from the town’s Planning Board, Watertown News reports. Next stop is the Zoning Board of Appeals, which could grant final approval next week.
BisNow has more details about this project, as well as Alexandria Real Estate Equities’ latest Watertown projects.
 
“Life science clusters will be found in areas where developers have the correct zoning and access to public transportation,” Boston Development’s Jodie Zussman said in explaining why her company is bullish about working in Watertown.
 
In other local biotech news, Abcuro (located at LabShares Newton) has raised $42 million to continues its development of immunotherapies for autoimmune diseases and cancer, according to Endpoints News.
 
When will business bounce back?

The BBJ has published a series of articles exploring when an economic recovery can be expected in a six key sectors. Here’s the relevant links….
More SBA whiplash (and other PPP news)
 
Yesterday, I asked for feedback from anyone who has applied for the just opened new round of the Paycheck Protection Program to tell me how the process was going. Overwhelmingly, our members said it’s been smooth sailing, a big improvement over the chaos in 2020.
 
One thing that hasn’t changed is the SBA’s infuriating habit of continually revising its rules.
 
Sure enough, the agency has once again updated its forgiveness applications, including a one-page application for borrowers that received a PPP loan of $150,000 or less.
 
A simpler form is likely good news but less frequent SBA whiplash would be a positive too.
 
And here’s one more interesting PPP tidbit: If your business did not receive a PPP loan in 2020 you might actually be able to get two PPP loans in 2021 — if you act fast, experts say. The process would require getting a PPP loan, spending it and applying for a second PPP loan before the program expires. The BBJ’s Andy Medici explains.
 
Be back tomorrow,
President, Newton-Needham Regional Chamber
617-244-1688
Your chamber is here when you need us.
 
P.S. Finally this morning if you, like me, couldn't stop re-watching the video of Amanda Gorman yesterday, enjoy her interview last night with Anderson Cooper.

 

 

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