Chamber News

May 07, 2020 Likes Comments

Confidence down but a glimmer

Fifty-eight days into the shut-down, confidence among Massachusetts employers continues to erode, according to the Associated Industries of Massachusetts Business Confidence Index. The index is now just slightly over the all-time low set during the great recession of 2009.

On the other hand, Gov. Charlie Baker said yesterday that he hoped to “begin reopening certain types of businesses in a limited fashion” on May 18 (including reportedly golf courses as soon as today).
"I think you'll likely see some decisions made over the course of the next several days if, in fact, the trends we've seen so far continue," Baker added.
Realistically speaking, that seems like the best we can hope for.
What should business owners do until we know more? Lots. If you missed it, check out the video and/or the slides from our “Planning to Move From Crisis to Recovery” webinar yesterday. Presenters Janey Bishoff and Pattie Hunt Sinacole laid out some very pragmatic tips.
Also, here’s some useful information from the CDC on cleaning and disinfection practices, as well as the importance of creating a plan specific to each place of work.
And for the bigger picture, the Boston Chamber just released this thoughtful agenda for an economic reopening which outlines three areas -- childcare, transportation and testing -- where employers and employees need information from government. (Jon Chesto’s take here.)
Meanwhile in Needham
Needham is among the best-run municipalities in Commonwealth. One reason why is Town Manager Kate Fitzpatrick (who the chamber honored for 30 years of service back in January).
Pragmatic, compassionate and modest (that last one matters when you answer to an elected board), we’re fortunate to have Fitzpatrick at the helm anytime, but especially during a crisis.
We’re also fortunate that she frequently shares her experience and humor in “Very Kate,” Fitzpatrick’s blog.
Here’s how she began yesterday’s blog post....
“Have you been wondering what it is like to work in a medium sized metro-Boston community during a global pandemic? Every day there are about 1,289 decisions to make, and when you look up from your computer it is already 5:00.”
Read the rest here. It’s worth it.
Need help? Ask a mentor
A reminder that last month the chamber launched our mentorship program.
We already have mentors ready to assist with HR, communications, digital marketing, Quickbooks, pivoting to online communications/ e-commerce, tax planning, selling, business networking and more. Use the mentee application if you want to tap into this free resource.
Or if you believe you have expertise to share, and would like to help a fellow member click here to apply to be a mentor.
Ideally, everyone will gain new insights and perspectives.
Yes, more PPP updates
Are you still thinking about applying for a Paycheck Protection loan, or perhaps still waiting for your lender to help? The Boston Business Journal is reporting (pay wall) that multiple Massachusetts banks say they’ve worked through their backlog of Paycheck Protection Program applications and are now accepting new customers. (Here’s a list of chamber member banks.)
In other PPP news, the safe harbor period to return PPP loans/withdraw applications that do not meet the economic need certification has been extended from today (May 7) to May 14, the U.S. Treasury announced this week. They also said the SBA plans to provide additional guidance on how it will review the certification prior to May 14. More here.
And Attorney General Maura Healy is leading a group of 24 state attorneys general asking Congress to revamp the PPP. Among the suggestions that every applicant nationwide can probably relate to: create a portal where you can check the status of your application. The AGs also want to prohibit publicly traded companies “with access to alternative funding sources” from applying and a series of specific measures to help minority owned businesses.

The race for Congress
Looks like that crowded field of candidates to replace Rep. Joe Kennedy III in Congress is going to remain crowded.
Ten Democratic candidates tell Politico that they’ve collected enough signatures to appear on the primary ballot in September, and one Republican candidate is vying to get on the ballot as well.
Newton City Councilors Jake Auchincloss and Becky Grossman, former Alliance for Business Leadership President Jesse Mermell, City Year co-founder Alan Khazei and former Obama administration aide Dave Cavell, say they’ve submitted enough signatures. Former Wall Street regulator Ihssane Leckey, attorney Ben Sigel, tech entrepreneur Chris Zannetos, teacher Nick Matthew and public health expert Natalia Linos also say they’ve turned in more than 1,000 signatures, which should also allow them to qualify under recently revised rules.
Former Attleboro City Councilor Julie Hall, the only declared Republican in the contest is currently collecting signatures according to the Sun Chronicle. All candidates still need to be officially certified.
Babson program revamped
As area universities take their classes, incubator programs and even graduation ceremonies virtual, Babson College has launched “Summer Catalyst,” a 10-week virtual accelerator designed to replace the school’s renowned Summer Venture Program, Boston Inno reports.
Meanwhile, businesses and nonprofits who would like to work -- at no cost to you -- with a team of entrepreneurial Babson grad students should consider applying to the college’s Graduate Experiential Learning Programs. Check out the: Babson College Graduate Student Consulting Program Application or contact Sophie Gray for additional information and further conversation. The chamber worked with a group from this program a few years back and found the program to be really beneficial.
Finally, this morning….
  • I goofed yesterday when I mentioned the date we're holding for chamber’s Children’s Charitable Golf Tournament (an important fundraiser for us and a local children’s charity). The correct date is Monday Aug. 3 at Woodland. Registration is now open. If the tournament is canceled or postponed, you’ll be eligible for a full refund.
  • Is there anything cooler than being the subject of a “Jeopardy!” answer? Last week Historic Newton’s bright green Durant-Kenrick House and Grounds was pictured with this clue: "This architectural style was popular for houses in colonial New England." “None of the contestants could identify ‘saltbox,’ perhaps because Durant-Kenrick, with two stories front and back and two chimneys, is not a standard saltbox house!,” Historic Newton wrote in a Facebook post. “Still, we were happy to see our museum shown and welcome visitors to learn more when we reopen.”
Let us know how we can help.
President, Newton-Needham Regional Chamber
Your chamber is here when you need us.


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