Chamber News

Needham / Newton
December 11, 2020 Likes Comments

Chamber members helping chamber members

Taking a cue from Needham and other communities, Newton is rolling out a program to make it easier for customers to engage in curbside pickup. 

“Our retailers and restaurants have taken a body blow because of COVID-19 so I’m continuing to find ways to help them,” said Mayor Ruthanne Fuller. “Starting Dec. 15, we’ll pilot an emergency program to allow businesses to request reserving a parking meter space in front of their business for short-term, 15-minute parking spots to make it easy for us to stop quickly and conveniently for pickup and takeout.”
Curbside pickup is super important these days because it offers customers a safe, contactless, local alternative to Amazon and GrubHub. We appreciate that the mayor is rolling the program out city-wide.
Businesses interested in having a designated curbside spot near them should complete this request form. Contact Newton’s Economic Development Director Devra Bailin if you have questions.
Chamber members helping chamber members
Yesterday, I noted that Needham’s Exchange Club is showing its support for local businesses by buying $50 gift cards for each of its nearly 100 members to any Needham business of their choice.
Today, we have a story about how an employer also found a way to support local in lieu of its annual employee holiday party.
The Bulfinch Group has arranged with its just-down-the-street neighbors, Bakers' Best Catering (both chamber members, of course), to deliver one hundred dinners to Bulfinch associates to be enjoyed during a Zoom “toast” next Friday.
Associates will be able to select from several family meals for those home with children, or from a carefully curated selection of elegant couples’ dinners for parties of two.
“Michael Baker and his team have created an incredible menu for our associates that offers something for everyone,” says Seth Medalie, the Bulfinch Group's president. “It’s a wonderful way for us to say thank you to our team for their dedication as well as a way to team with and support a local business.”
There's still time for you to do something similar for your colleagues or clients:
If you’re a chamber member doing something special for your team or customers this holiday season by partnering with another chamber member, please let me know about it.
Another way to help your fellow members (and favorite chamber)
To date we’ve raised just under $4,000 for our Pay It Forward Campaign, our initiative to help underwrite half of the cost of 2021 dues for our small businesses and nonprofits who may struggle to stay on as chamber members.
At an average of $160 per member. the money raised so far will cover about 25 members next year. Thanks to everyone who has donated or is able to. Learn more here.
COVID surge leads to transit roll backs
Commuter rail operator Keolis is cutting service by more than half starting Monday to cope with a COVID-fueled staffing shortage, reports State House News
Regular service will be reduced from 541 trains each weekday to 246 daily trains for at least two weeks. Weekend service will not be affected. The new schedules are online.
Green, Red and Orange Line trains will also run up a minute less frequently also because of staff shortages due to the pandemic. Some bus schedules will change too.
This week the T suspended 11 employees without pay for violating its mask policy. Another 52 workers have received written warnings and 90 verbal warnings, reports Bruce Mohl at CommonWealth.
Study asks if the Paycheck Protection Program protected enough paychecks
Many business owners and nonprofit leaders will tell you that the PPP kept their operation afloat during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic.
But a study from the University of Chicago concludes that the federal program only had a small effect on employment — and at a relatively high cost, reports Andy Medici for the BBJ.
The economists conclude that much of the $522 billion spent on PPP was used to build up savings buffers and make nonpayroll fixed payments, while the Small Business Administration’s own eligibility rules limited how much money went to the businesses most in need.
Ultimately, they concluded the program cost about $120,000 per job saved.
“We don’t want to take a stance on whether the program was worth it or not but it was a relatively high number per job saved,” one of the report's authors told Medici.
But the researchers also found that the PPP may have helped strengthen balance sheets for businesses and allowed them to meet nonpayroll commitments, such as rent or other recurring payments, or build up cash reserves.
And that helped those businesses – and the economy -- survive the months that followed.
Of course, they rushed the darn thing
The hastily-created PPP was originally intended to prop up business for only eight weeks. Over the subsequent months, the SBA has altered its rules many times, causing headaches for both loan recipients, lenders and even one email newsletter writer in eastern Massachusetts.
One local banker yesterday told me that many of his clients are now struggling completing the SBA’s loan forgiveness process. Some forgiveness applications have been kicked back, seeking additional information for loans of as little as $4,000.
If you've received, or applied for PPP forgiveness, let me know how the process went or is going.
Congress is now looking at changing the rules for a new round of PPP loans, the Hill reports.
And that brings us to our next item
“Disarray.” “Bickering.” “Trading blame.” “Finger-pointing.” “Unworkable.”
Those are the words being used to describe the current state of stimulus deliberations designed to provide the relief that everyone seems to agree we need – but somehow our representatives in Washington D.C. just aren’t willing to do anything about.
And scary.
Today’s three need to knows
  • A reminder that the state returns to Phase 3 Step 1 Sunday, with added rules and restrictions. Details here. If you have questions, input, or comments regarding the requirements, submit them here.
  • The SBA, One SouthCoast Chamber and the MA Small Business Development Center is hosting a webinar on PPP Loan Forgiveness Tips & Hints, Dec. 15 at 1 p.m. Details here.
  • The COVID Relief Coalition offers pro bono legal advice and other resources to nonprofits and small businesses. Details here.
Watertown approves 3rd pot shop
Watertown’s third and final recreational marijuana dispensary, located in a complex on Pleasant Street, received planning board approval this week, reports the Watertown News.
Bud’s Goods & Provisions (best name yet) will be part of the Water Mills at Bridge Point mixed-use development at 330-350 Pleasant St., which includes 99 residential units.
The board recently approved dispensary Sira Naturals on North Beacon Street, although it is not yet open.
Will your company require a COVID vaccine?
Experts advise employers to decide now if they’re going to require employees to get vaccinated. Read what some say here. AARP looks at it from the employee’s perspective here.
BisNow has just published a four part report asking “How the vaccine can help real estate and how real estate can help the vaccine succeed.”
If you have questions about the roll-out, here’s the state’s vaccine website. Here’s the state’s presentation from earlier this week. And here’s the state’s responses to frequently asked questions
And if there's not enough to give you heartburn, worrying about this might.
First it was toilet paper. Then it was meat.
Now, the latest shortage is antacids. The New York Times has the hard to stomach details.
Sounds like yet another reason to take extra good care this weekend. Dine out. Take out. Shop locally.
Be back Tuesday,
President, Newton-Needham Regional Chamber
Your chamber is here when you need us.


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