Chamber News

Needham / Newton
February 25, 2021 Likes Comments

Consider the price of doing nothing

If you’re 65 years or older, or have certain medical conditions, grab your luckiest lucky charm, stop reading this and log on ASAP to

About 50,000 new vax appointments are available this morning for clinics at the Natick Mall, Fenway Park, Gillette Stadium and in Springfield, Dartmouth and Danvers.
In addition, the vax clinic at Tripadvisor in Needham (managed by Newton-Wellesley Hospital/Mass General Brigham) is reopening to patients after Gov. Charlie Baker agreed to once again provide vaccine supply to the state’s hospitals.
And CVS announced it was adding 17 more stores to its network of 30 Massachusetts vaccine sites.
Baker appeared yesterday at the vax clinic in the former Sears at the Natick Mall and said the state's online appointment platform has been upgraded to stem booking angst and will now feature a “digital waiting room."
I'd still recommend grabbing that good luck charm.
Psst... here's what else you can try
You may also want to check out these secret tips to book your vaccine appointment online from Boston Magazine, or these from the Herald.
WBUR has tips too, from listeners who successfully booked an appointment.
Consider the price of doing nothing
Once this pandemic is over, we’re going to regret not having done more to address a transportation crisis that’s harming to our planet, our economy, our heath, our ability to attract talent and regularly made us late for dinner.
So it's encouraging that state Sen. Joseph Boncore, co-chair of the transportation committee, has just released an ambitious plan to raise revenue to fix public transit and roads, while reframing how we address both gridlock and economic inequities.
Boncore’s just-filed “Transportation New Deal” seeks, among other things, a phased-in 12-cent gas tax increase, MBTA upgrades and surcharges on parking spaces, reports Chris Lisinski at State House News.
His most dramatic proposal? All rides on MBTA and Regional Transit Authority buses would be free. (The T would also be barred from raising fares for five years.)
"It's the most equitable mode of public transit," Boncore said of buses. "It's going to alleviate congestion on our roadways, reduce our carbon footprint, and will help people most on the lower end of the socioeconomic scale."
The plan also includes bringing back two proposals our chamber and other business groups endorsed that were vetoed by Gov. Charlie Baker this year -- higher ride share fees and a study of congestion pricing -- and one that died in committee: regional ballot initiatives.
One thing not included in the proposal: A price tag or revenue projections.
"I'm not so naive as to think there's no cost associated with this bill," he told Lisinski. "But what I really want to talk about is what's the cost of doing nothing.
"When our transportation system is in such dire need of modernization and we choose to do nothing, the price of those actions falls on our economy and falls on those who rely on public transit."
Hope in the Huburbs
Wondering about the state of retail in the suburbs?
The excellent Form & Place blog has an illuminating interview with Adam Conviser of Conviser Property Group.
Conviser reports seeing an uptick in activity, including a slew of recent openings (Cacao Chocolatier and Lacon Paris Patisserie in Newton Highlands, Tous le Jours, a bakery/cafe coming to the former Murray's Liquors in Newton Centre) as well as some other pandemic openings: Bianca's at The Street and Sushico in Newton Centre.
And he uses the term “Boston Huburbs” to describe our market, a term I’m absolutely planning on lifting. Read the interview here.
Then there's this from Greg Ryan at the BBJ who writes: "COVID tanked the Mass. economy. So where are all the bankruptcies?"
"Experts cite several reasons for the lack of filings," Ryan writes. "The PPP and other government relief programs kept businesses alive. In many cases, banks and other creditors have been forgiving about missed payments. For some businesses, it made little sense to go through the time and expense of a Chapter 11 restructuring given how little was known about the pandemic’s course."
Need to knows
  • The amazing Newton Neighbors Helping Neighbors is organizing an effort to buy gift cards from local restaurants which will be distributed to residents experiencing food insecurity. If you operate a Newton restaurant and would like have your gift cards listed for purchase, apply here. Questions: Email Bruce Wilson. (Note: This program is separate from our Nourishing Newton program organized by the chamber in partnership with the Rotary.)
  • This afternoon (Thurs) at 5 p.m. Lasell University President Michael B. Alexander and Lasell senior administrators will provide an update from campus for neighbors, local businesses, and community leaders. Register here.
Baker order smooths license transfer process for military families
The governor has signed an executive order making it easier for military personnel and their spouses to continue their civilian careers when they are transferred to Massachusetts military installations, AP reports.
The state is home to six military installations with more than $13.2 billion in total economic activity and support for more than 57,600 jobs. Professions covered by the order include physical therapists, accountants, engineers, psychologists, barbers and cosmetologists.
Grants for ‘historic’ restaurants
American Express will award $1,000,000 in grants for restaurants impacted by COVID. The program aims to find what AmEx calls “historic restaurants who have been a cornerstone of communities for decades. This can be your favorite neighborhood hot dog stand where you loitered as a teen or the famous downtown steakhouse your grandparents loved.”
Restaurants can nominate themselves or fans of the restaurant can nominate them. Nominate a Historic Small Restaurant Here.
Openings and still closed
  • The Globe’s Kara Baskin interviewed Lydia Reichert, the chef at Jinny’s, the new wood fired pizza place opening next week at 1231 Centre St, Newton Centre. It’s the latest venture from David Punch (Buttonwood, Little Big Diner, and Sycamore).
  • The still-closed Needham Sheraton has a new owner. Paceline Equity Partners, LLC, a Dallas-based private equity manager acquired a the commercial loan. Paceline’s CEO tells Boston Real Estate Times his company is taking “a conservative view of the recovery timeline for the Greater Boston area and the broader U.S. hospitality industry.” No word on reopening.
  • The ALS Therapy Development Institute — a nonprofit lab that focuses on treatment for the devastating disease — is moving to 480 Arsenal Way in Watertown from Kendall Square, the Globe reports. With more than 30 scientists, ALS TDI is among the world’s foremost drug labs focused solely on ALS.
  • La Victoria Taqueria in Belmont is now open for takeout. Owners Alex and Elia Barrientos of Arlington also operate La Victoria Taqueria in Arlington and Beverly. ( Wicked Local)
  • The West Street Tavern & Gill in Nonantum has been closed since at least last summer, according to several sources with no word on reopening.
Here’s the next vaccine I can’t wait to get
First, I want to ditch the facemask.
After that? I want to be able to stop wearing socks pulled up over my pant legs.
That second item just might be possible thanks to the development of a vaccine to prevent Lyme disease which could be ready by 2023, reports WBUR’s Commonheath.
Massachusetts has invested $1 million toward the shot, which technically isn't a vaccine but delivers anti-Lyme antibodies directly to the patient rather than triggering the patient's own immune system to make the antibodies as vaccines do.
The feds approved human testing last year. A phase one clinical trial began last week.
Maybe someone could start building that vaccine appointment portal now.
That’s all folks. Be back tomorrow.

President, Newton-Needham Regional Chamber
Your chamber is here when you need us.


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