Chamber News

July 29, 2020 Likes Comments

Community Colleges see enrollment spike

With so much uncertainty surrounding reopening colleges this fall, the state’s community colleges are seeing an enrollment spike, according to the MetroWest Daily News.

Their two-year programs can be appealing as students look to stay closer to home to continue their education or seek new job skills in a changing jobs market.
 
“The value of what parents are willing to pay for [college] experience is changing, and a lot of families are rethinking (their original college plans),” said Alison McCarty at MassBay Community College with campuses in Wellesley, Framingham and Ashland.
 
Community colleges benefited from federal stimulus aid, which helped the colleges transition to the remote learning models back in March.
 
Let's play 'Double Jeopardy!'
 
“Two trillion dollars.”
 
“What is the difference between the Democrat's and Republican's stimulus bills?"
 
Actually, there’s many differences between the Republican-led Senate plan released yesterday and the Democrat’s House bill approved in May.
 
This New York Times article provides a quick comparison but basically the biggest difference is the Dems give state and local governments $1 trillion and the GOP basically zero, while also slashing unemployment benefits. (Here's Larry Edelman’s take on the flaws with unemployment insurance.)
 
The Republican plan (turns out, even a lot of Republicans don’t like it) also offers automatic forgiveness for Paycheck Protection Plan loans under $150,000.
 
And there would be second round of PPP loans for small businesses ("small" in D.C. means fewer than 300 employees), with a special set aside for companies with 10 or fewer employees (my idea of "small"). The BBJ has all the PPP details.
 
Oh, and the GOP plan offers a 100 percent deduction for business meals for the rest of 2020, because, apparently, someone thinks you should spend your afternoons wining and dining, rather than fighting to meet payroll, pay rent and avoid foreclosure.
 
Meanwhile on Beacon Hill
 
The House passed a major economic development bill Tuesday after two days of amendment-wrangling, sending it to the state Senate, which plans to start deliberations today on its own bill.
 
The good news: The House bill includes Housing Choice, Gov. Charlie Baker’s long sought after proposal which would allow cities and towns to approve desperately needed housing near transit and commercial districts through a majority vote.
 
The bad news: Housing Choice (as well as an online gambling bill that channels some revenue to help restaurants) weren’t in the Senate bill as of last night, according to State House News.
 
That doesn't mean it's dead. It just means the coalition of businesses and housing advocates who are championing this have their work cut out.
 
Testing. Testing. Testing.
 
Short of a vaccine, the only way offices can confidently and successfully reopen will be through testing that’s affordable and doesn’t require long wait times for results.
 
Presently, individual tests can cost $100, or more. Results sometimes take weeks.
 
The Globe’s Scott Kirshner writes about several Boston-area startups that hope to change that.
 
“Without testing, businesses will be stuck in a cycle of opening and closing facilities as cases of COVID pop up. It’ll be misery,” says Jason Kelly, CEO at Gingko, which is working on a saliva-based test.
 
Some of these entrepreneurs believe it will be possible to get the cost down to $10 to $20, Kirshner adds.
 
Today, tomorrow, events of note
  • We’ve all heard about sales clerks and managers having to confront a customer without a face covering or ignoring social distance protocols. Join us this afternoon (July 29) at 2:30 via Zoom for a conflict resolution workshop designed to provide tools to help de-escalate difficult customer interactions.
  • Reminder about the chamber Zoomar, tomorrow at 10 a.m. looking at how COVID has impacted the local office and retail market. Learn what to expect when looking for new office or retail space, whether landlords are providing discounts or incentives and how space will be different going forward. 
  • The Mass Restaurant Association has assembled a panel of to discuss business interruption insurance tomorrow (July 30) at 2 p.m. Even though you may have been denied or discouraged from filing a claim, the panel will explain how there may in fact be coverage. Details here.
More on Newton’s zoning
 
Yesterday, I noted (last item here) that a recent Globe story and a lot of list serve and blog chatter suggests that Newton's City Council is considering a proposal that “would end single-family only zoning in large swaths of city.”
 
It's more accurate to say that the council is considering a proposal that would "allow multi-family housing,” not "end" single family homes.
 
Newton City Councilor Andreae Downs reached out to provide added context:
 
“The draft [zoning] proposal keeps structures within some modest sizes (not the super sizes we now see, totally based on the size of the lot), but once we have that and some open space, we basically are saying we don’t care what goes on inside,” Downs writes. “One family? Two? Mother-in-law? Small business? As long as it doesn’t change the outside (much) and isn’t noxious, what is the city’s interest in what else goes on within the four walls?
 
“That translates to possibly more units (they are allowed), but they would probably be smaller, and the profit from tearing down and building anew would be less.”
 
Okay, I peeked
 
We officially opened nominations yesterday for the Newton-Needham MetroWest 50 Most Influential Business People of Color list.
 
I couldn’t help but peek to see how it went.
 
Within a few hours, we received some terrific nominations.
 
In order for this project to be successful we’ll need help spreading the word, especially in Watertown, Waltham, Wellesley, Natick and Framingham where we have fewer members.
Please share this page on your social media feeds, company newsletters and with CEOs, HR directors, recruiters, friends, customers and colleagues.
 
And don't forget to submit your own nominations.
President, Newton-Needham Regional Chamber
617-244-1688
Your chamber is here when you need us.

 

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